Juan León Mera
|Juan León Mera|
|Born||Juan León Mera Martínez
June 28, 1832
|Died||December 13, 1894 (aged 62)
|Occupation||Essayist, Novelist, Politician, Painter|
|Notable work(s)||Cumandá (1879) a novel, "Salve, Oh Patria" (1865) the National Anthem of Ecuador|
Juan León Mera Martínez (Ambato, June 28, 1832 – Ambato, December 13, 1894) was an Ecuadorian essayist, novelist, politician and painter. His most emphasized works are the Ecuadorian National Hymn and the novel Cumandá (1879). Additionally in his political career he was a functionary of president Gabriel García Moreno.
He was born on Ambato on June 28, 1832 and died in the same city on December 13, 1894. His father, Pedro Antonio Mera Gómez was a businessman while his mother Josefa Martínez Vásconez, raised her only son alone due to the fact that he abandoned her during her pregnancy. His infancy was humble while during his first years of life he lived at the “Los Molinos” country property, located in Ambato. In order to support the family his maternal grandmother rented the property to her brother Pablo Vásconez, who was a political activists who fought against the politics of Juan José Flores. León Mera received his education at home, which in large part was carried out by great-uncle as well as his uncle Nicolás Martínez who was a doctor. At the age of twenty he traveled to Quito to study painting with the noted pictural artist Antonio Salas, where he learned how to paint oil and watercolor. At the age of 33, he and Antonio Neumane created the Ecuadorian National Hymn, "salve, Oh patria".
In the year 1854, he published his first verses of poetry in the newspaper La Democracia, with the help of writer Miguel Riofrío. He founded the Ecuadorian Academy of language in 1874 and was a member of the Real Academia Española.
He is considered one of the precursors of Ecuadorian literature for his famous national novel Cumandá which shows the complicated racial and social intricacies of Ecuador following independence. It was published in Quito in the year 1879 and later in Madrid in 1891. This novel was later utilized by Ecuadorian dramaturgists of the 20th century Luis H. Salgado (1903-1977), Pedro Pablo Traversari Salazar (1874-1956) and Sixto María Durán Cárdenas (1875-1947) to each write an opera.
In addition to being a writer and painter he was a political conservative and follower of Gabriel García Moreno. He was the governor of Cotopaxi, Secretary of the Council of State, Senator, President of the Cámara del Senado and National Congress. His former residence, the museo "La quinta de Juan León Mera", in the city of Ambato, exhibits his possessions.
|Year of Publication||Literary work|
|1861||La virgen del sol|
|1865||Himno Nacional del Ecuador|
|1868||Ojeada histórico-crítica sobre la poesía ecuatoriana|
|1872||Los novios de una aldea ecuatoriana|
|1879||Cumandá o un drama entre salvajes|
|1883||Los últimos momentos de Bolívar|
|1884||La dictadura y la restauración de la República del Ecuador|
|1889||Entre dos tías y un tío|
|1890||Porqué soy cristiano|
|1892||Antología ecuatoriana: cantares del pueblo|
|1903||Tijeretazos y plumadas|
Works based on his novels
Three operas have been based on Juan León Mera's novel Cumandá:
- * Cumandá, una ópera de Luis H. Salgado
- * Cumandá, una ópera de Sixto María Durán Cárdenas
- * Cumandá o la virgen de las selvas una ópera de Pedro Pablo Traversari Salazar
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