José María Arguedas is one of the few Latin American authors who loved and described his natural surroundings, and he ranks among the greatest writers of any time and place
He saw the beauty of the Peruvian landscape, as well as the grimness of social conditions in the Andes, through the eyes of the Indians who are a part of it. Ernesto, the narrator of Deep Rivers, is a child with origins in two worlds. The son of a wandering country lawyer, he is brought up by Indian servants until he enters a Catholic boarding school at age 14. In this urban Spanish environment he is a misfit and a loner. The conflict of the Indian and the Spanish cultures is acted out within him as it was in the life of Arguedas. For the boy Ernesto, salvation is his world of dreams and memories. While Arguedas’ poetry was published in Quechua, he invented a language for his novels in which he used native syntax with Spanish vocabulary. This makes translation into other languages extremely difficult, and Frances Horning Barraclough has done a masterful job, winning the 1978 Translation Center Award from Columbia University.