Juan del Valle y Caviedes
Juan del Valle y Caviedes (11 April 1645 – 1697), often referenced as Caviedes, was a Colonial poet from Viceregal Peru. He belongs chronologically to the Spanish American Baroque Colonial period, and shares much with Baroque writers such as Mateo Rosas de Oquendo, Sor Juana and Bernardo de Balbuena. He was a sharp social and political critic, pointing out the shortcomings and hypocrisies of the traditional and smug Spanish American colonial administrators.
Caviedes was born in Porcuna, Andalucía, Spain in 1645. He came to Peru at an early age and settled in Lima, later spending some time in the mining area of Huancavelica, where life was hard even for a Spaniard at the top of the social pyramid. As has been shown by various critics, a false biography based on the author's satirical works suggested that he dissipated his fortune on gambling, drink, and women of dubious morals and that as a result of having contracted a venereal disease he directed his satirical bite at the damage done by physicians and their indifferent and rapacious attitude toward their patients. Much to the contrary, however, in his satire of doctors and medicine Caviedes is actually following a long-standing satirical Western tradition.
As a writer Caviedes shares many characteristics with several of the writers of Spanish Golden Age, such as Francisco de Quevedo and Luis de Góngora, partially because of his satirical, biting, vulgar, popular, and picaresque wit. But behind this criticism is a sharp social and moral attack on the abuses, injustices, and double standards of the Colonial period. He is also the author of serious love and religious poetry.
When Caviedes moved to Lima the targets of his biting satire included not only doctors, but also Lima aristocrats and even the Viceregal court. Following satirical tradition, he attacked many professions, among them lawyers, tailors, and street women, with an emphasis on the grotesque, the scatological, the ugly, and the immoral. With some exceptions, the scandalous aspects of his work made publication difficult during his lifetime, but his works circulated in handwritten chapbooks and were collected in various manuscripts. There are several modern editions of his complete works.
Sample of work
"Colloquium that a seriously ill doctor had with Death"
- From: Diente del Parnaso/ Tooth of Parnassus (1689), Translated by Jack Child
- Take care that in your eagerness
- if you treat doctors this way
- you'll force the priests and sacristans
- to go on all fours.
- Because neither sunstroke nor excess
- or the worst parents-in-law
- fruit or snow without liquor,
- bullet, stockade or song
- kill in one year as many
- as the best doctor.
- Cabanillas Cárdenas, Carlos F., Guerras físicas, proezas medicalez, hazañas de la ignorancia, edición crítica, estudio y anotación, Tesis de Doctorado, 2009.
- Chang-Rodríguez, Raquel. Voces de Hispanoamérica. Boston: Heinle & Heinle, 2004, pp. 70–74.
- Child, Jack. Introduction to Latin American Literature: a Bilingual Anthology. Lanham: University Press of America,1994, pp. 97–101.
- Englekirk, John E. An Outline History of Spanish American Literature. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1965, p. 29.
- Lasarte, Pedro. Lima satirizada (1598-1698): Mateo Rosas de Oquendo y Juan del Valle y Caviedes. Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2006.
- Solé, Carlos A., (ed.) Latin American Writers. New York: Scribner’s, 1989. (3 volumes), pp. 79–83.
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