Palma, Ricardo

Palma, Ricardo pälˈmä [key], 1833–1919, Peruvian scholar and author. Palma abandoned an active early career as a naval officer, journalist, and politician to achieve note as a historian with a book on the Inquisition in Lima (1863). After the War of the Pacific (1879–84) he was in charge of rebuilding the destroyed national library. He made it one of the finest libraries in South America and served as its director for many years. Palma, however, won enduring fame and a unique place in Spanish-American letters as the creator of a new genre, the tradición, or historical anecdote. Part fiction and part historical reconstruction, these sketches and stories about colonial Peru are permeated by wit, love of the past, and all-encompassing imagination. They were published in a long series of volumes, Tradiciones peruanas (1872–1910); some have been translated into English under the title The Knights of the Cape (ed. by Harriet de Onís, 1945).

See study by S. L. Arora (1966).

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