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The Peruvian President praised her; the Church excommunicated her; angry mobs rampaged through her house and press. Clearly, writer, publisher, and reformer Clorinda Matto de Turner possessed a knack for igniting both enthusiasm and outrage in her 19th-century audience. The latest installment in Oxford University Press's acclaimed Library of Latin America series, her novel Torn from the Nest may excite a little less protest now than it did in 1889, but it remains a radical document in many ways: in its nascent feminism, its impassioned defense of indigenous rights, and most especially in its critique of Church corruption and advocacy of married Catholic clergy.
Translated into English for the first time since 1904, this seminal Latin American novel uses a time-tested plot--a star-crossed romance between a member of the landed gentry and a doe-eyed mestizo maiden--as a vehicle for exposing how priests, politicians, and Creole landowners exploited Indian populations. "If history is the mirror where future generations are to contemplate the image of generations past, the task of the novel is to be the photograph that captures the vices and virtues of a people," Matto writes in her preface. The key word here is photograph, and Matto demonstrates her commitment to the newfangled method of naturalism throughout the novel, meticulously reproducing the landscape and native customs of the mountain town of Killac. Its plot, language, and characterization, however, are steeped in the worst excesses of Romantic idealism, and the modern reader may find some of its more breathless passages hard to take. As a historical document, however, Torn From the Nest is invaluable for anyone seeking to understand the early days of liberalism--or literary realism--in Latin American intellectual circles.
"This new and engaging translation by John H.R. Polt is part of Oxford University Press's wonderful Library of Latin America series."--The New York Times Book Review
"A century ago this story of love doomed by priestly immorality provoked cries of outrage in Peru. There is in its message much that is still relevant today."--Library Journal --This text refers to the Paperback edition.