Letters of a Peruvian Woman (Oxford World's Classics)
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One of the most popular novels of the eighteenth century, the Letters of a Peruvian Woman recounts the story of Zilia, an Inca Virgin of the Sun, who is captured by the Spanish conquistadores and brutally separated from her lover, Aza. She is rescued and taken to France by Déterville, a nobleman, who is soon captivated by her. The novel portrays Zilia's feelings on her separation from both her lover and her culture, and her experience of a new and alien society. By fusing sentimental fiction and social commentary, Françoise de Graffigny created a new kind of heroine, defined by her intellect as much as her feelings and challenging traditional assumptions about the role of women both in fiction and society. This first fully annotated English translation of the novel includes a comprehensive introduction, appendices containing extracts from Graffigny's principal source, Garcilosa's Royal Commentaries of Peru, as well as contemporary French and English continuations/adaptations of the novel.
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of ceremony28 seems to me to be a superstition of these peoples: I think they must ﬁnd in it some insight into my illness; but one evidently needs to belong to their nation to feel its beneﬁts, for I have experienced next to none. I still suﬀer from an inner burning which quite consumes me; I scarcely have enough 27 28 Cacique is a kind of provincial Governor. The Indians had no knowledge of Medicine. 26 Letter Four strength to knot my Quipos. I spend as much time doing this as my feeble
make us virtuous,* just as one needs only to love you to become lovely. LETTER SEVENTEEN I no longer know what to think of the spirit of this nation, my dearest Aza. It moves to extremes with such rapidity that one would need to have more ability than I have to form a judgement about its character. 52 Letter Seventeen They have shown me a spectacle completely diﬀerent from the one I saw before. The ﬁrst one was cruel, terrifying, it repelled one’s reason and was an aﬀront to humanity. This
you love your honour and my peace of mind. LETTER THIRTY-EIGHT To the Chevalier Déterville In Malta If you were not the noblest of men, Sir, I would be the most humiliated; if you did not have the most generous of souls, the most compassionate of hearts, would it be to you that I confess my disgrace and despair? But alas! what have I left to fear? what is there for me to worry about? All is lost. It is no longer the loss of my liberty, of my position, of my homeland that I lament; it is no
time passed so easily, that their Labour seemed a Recreation, so great was their Devotion towards their God and their King’ (Book V, ch. 2). 10 that few nations can claim to have bettered them in this respect: Graﬃgny’s reference here is, for once, inaccurate. The Introduction to the General and Political History of the Universe by Samuel, Freiherr von Pufendorf, deals only with Europe. Bruzen de La Martinière wrote on the Americas in a continuation added to the seven-volume edition of 1738; this
attempts, undertaken in the name of the reader’s satisfaction, to turn the disruptive into the reassuring. This aesthetic response imitates, ironically, the cultural response of characters to Zilia in the novel itself. The heroine’s diﬀerence is seen as defective or threatening, and the aim is to neutralize it. The diﬀerent changes proposed for the novel restore the primacy of feeling as the deﬁning characteristic of a heroine, but they imply too a desire to underplay her analytical qualities, by