Isaac J. Barrera

Isaac J. Barrera

Isaac J. Barrera (Otavalo, February 4, 1884– June 29, 1970) was a writer, journalist, literary critic, historian, biographer and university professor. As a journalist, he founded several influential literary magazines and worked on the editorial staff of El Comercio between 1933-1955, authoring over 7,000 articles in this period. He wrote biographies on Vicente Rocafuerte and Simón Bolívar. He also authored book-length studies on Ecuadorian literature, the history of journalism in Ecuador, and colonial Quito. His best-known book is Historia de la literatura ecuatoriana (1944; History of Ecuadorian Literature), which organized authors by genre and provided comparative analyses of their works, as well as an examination of the literary theories underpinning them. He was a member of the Ecuadorian Academy of Language. In 1973, a collection of his poetry was published posthumously.



He was born to Estanislao Barrera Nicolalde and Tomasa Quiroz Moreno, both natives of Otavalo.


In 1903 he married his first cousin Carmen Barrera Almeida, who acted as his French teacher and his secretary. They had seven children, but only three reached adulthood: Jaime, Inés and Eulalia.


  • Ecuadorian Academy of Language
  • Ecuadorian Academy of History
  • Ecuadorian Cultural Institute

Studies on modernismo

From January 1 – April 10, 1910, he inaugurated the literary section of “El Comercio” with a series of fourteen studies on the literary movement modernismo, making him known as a literary critic within Ecuador. A book containing his studies on modernimo was published posthumously in 1971: “Estudios sobre modernismo literario.”

Founder of magazines

In 1912, together with Ernesto Noboa y Caamaño, Arturo Borja and Francisco Guarderas, he founded the monthly magazine “Letras,” which contained in its pages all the news of the moment in the field of poetry and literature. Barrera directed it from 1913 to 1919. It greatly influenced a change in literary taste in Ecuador, which shifted from romanticism to modernismo.

In 1925 he founded and directed the political weekly “El Sol” with Homero Viteri Lafronte.

Grupo América

He was one of the founding members of the famous “Grupo América” where the country’s intelligentsia shone for twenty years.


Isaac J. Barrera published his articles under various pseudonyms, including:

  • Azpeitia
  • JIB
  • Jesús Quijada
  • Fernando Soto G
  • J. Collahuaso
  • Juan Rivera

Awards and recognitions

  • In 1963 he received a tribute from the Cantonal Council of Otavalo.
  • In 1964 he received the Sebastián de Benalcázar decoration from the Municipality of Quito.

Selected works


  • Rocafuerte: estudio histórico-biográfico (1911), read it for free here.
  • Simón Bolívar, libertador y creador de pueblos (1930), read it for free here.
  • Próceres de la patria: lecturas biográficas (1939)


  • Historia relatada por Pierrot (1913)
  • La Melancolía de una tarde (1914)
  • Relación de las fiestas del primer centenario de la batalla de Pichincha, 1822-1922 (1922)
  • Quito Colonial (1922)
  • Dos escritores italianos modernos (1923)
  • Literatura ecuatoriana, apuntaciones históricas (1926)
  • Epistolario de Montalvo (1927), read it for free here.
  • Libro de lecturas (1928)
  • Albert Samaín (1929)
  • Tres estudios literarios. Goethe, Montalvo, Mera (1932)
  • Literatura hispanoamericana (1934)
  • Estudios de literatura castellana: el siglo de oro (1935), read it for free here.
  • Los grandes maestros de la literatura universal (1935)
  • Historia de la literatura ecuatoriana – Volumes 1-2 (1944)
  • Siglo XVIII (1944)
  • Siglos XVI y XVII (1944)
  • La literatura del Ecuador (1947)
  • Federico González Suárez, Pedro Fermín Cevallos (1949)
  • Un soneto famoso y discutido (1953)
  • Juan Montalvo (1953)
  • La prensa en el Ecuador (1955)
  • Historiografia del Ecuador (1956)
  • De nuestra América: hombres y cosas de la República del Ecuador (1956)
  • De nuestra América: hombres y cosas de la república del Ecuador (1956)
  • Consideraciones sobre el concepto literario (1959)
  • Ensayo de interpretación histórica. Introducción a los acontecimientos del 10 de Agosto de 1809 (Quito, 1959)
  • El Ecuador en el siglo XIX (1960)
  • Poesía popular, alcances y apéndice: índices. (1960)
  • Al margen de mis lecturas: de Cervantes a Montalvo (1964)
  • Quito colonial, siglo XVIII, comienzos del siglo XIX (1971)
  • Estudios sobre modernismo literario (1971)
  • Unidad y pureza de la lengua en España y América (1972)
  • Del vivir. Reflexiones de juventud (1972)
  • Tres historiadores ecuatorianos (1976)


  • El dolor de soñar (1924; novella), read it for free here.


  • Poesía (1973)

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