8 julio, 2024

Jorge Icaza Coronel: who he was, biography, style and works

Who was Jorge Icaza Coronel?

Jorge Icaza Colonel (1906-1978) was an Ecuadorian novelist. He was a native of the city of Quito and was universally known for his novel huasipungoof an indigenous character, which showed the mistreatment suffered by the indigenous people of Ecuador at the hands of the Creole whites.

He began his career writing theater, after having belonged to a performing arts group. Some of his early playwriting works were The intruder, By the old and Without sense. From there he jumped into the narrative.

Because of the works that Icaza wrote, he was considered a protest author. In addition, Quito was associated with leftist literature, framed in the proletarian novel, which in Ecuador took indigenous people as protagonists.

His contributions to Ecuadorian culture and letters were not in vain, since they helped him serve the government as ambassador of Ecuador in Moscow, Russia. He also served as cultural attaché of the Republic in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Among his best-known literary works are, in addition to huasipungo: cholos1938, dazzled half life, from 1942, six stories, from 1952, The chulla Romero and Flores, of 1958, and Caught upone of his most mature works, from 1973.

Biography of Jorge Icaza Coronel

early years

Jorge Icaza Coronel was born on June 10, 1906 in Quito, Ecuador. He was the son of José Antonio Icaza Manzo, a liberal who fled the city after the fall of General Eloy Alfaro in 1910, and who shortly after left his son orphaned due to an ulcer.

With his mother, Amelia Coronel Pareja, Icaza moved to Chimborazo, where his family owned a farm. It was in those lands where he came into contact with the indigenous people of the area, their language and customs.

Amelia Coronel married again in 1911 with a merchant named José Alejandro Peñaherrera Oña. Then, the child was left in the care of the Salazar Gómez couple in Quito.

Later, he returned to his mother’s side, as the adaptation conflicts that arose with his stepfather were resolved and a beautiful relationship was born between the two.

Upon returning to her mother, Icaza began her education by attending the school of the Young Ladies of Toledo and later the San Luis Gonzaga school. From 1917 he attended the San Gabriel school and two years later he entered the Mejía National Institute, where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1924.


Icaza felt attracted to medicine and the same year he graduated from high school he entered the Faculty to obtain a medical degree.

However, her stepfather died in 1925 and her mother the following year. So, she was left without support and without ties in the world.

As a young man, Icaza was an outgoing and good-looking boy. He decided to enter the world of dramatic arts and it was then that he entered the National Conservatory as a theater student.

His debut was at the renowned Teatro Sucre, where he performed in the play Grab a hair and their participation generated very good reviews. From that presentation she joined the Compañía Dramática Nacional, which showed the most recent stage shows in the world in Quito.

During those years his true vocation awoke, writing. He devoted himself to this work, first arranging texts, and then creating his own plays, such as The intrudera three-act comedy in which he was also one of the actors, in 1928.

In 1929 he presented two other works called the nameless comedy and by the old. In addition, he wrote for the magazine Clarity.

literary beginnings

Jorge Icaza continued in the theater for a while longer. Aside from his career as an actor and playwright, he had other jobs, including serving as Oficial Mayor of the Treasury of the Treasury.

He opened his own company, which he named after the actress Marina Moncayo, who was part of the group. With her he premiered Which is it?, a work written by him. Later, he continued to perfect himself in dramaturgy, in which he increasingly showed greater mastery.

His first steps off the stage were taken in 1933 with the work sierra muda series of short stories that captivated critics.

The following year, Fenia Cristina Icaza Moncayo was born, a daughter he had with Marina Moncayo, who was his wife from 1936, as well as a co-worker.


The real burst of fame for Jorge Icaza came in 1934, with the publication of his novel huasipungo. It became the author’s most famous novel.

in the pages of huasipungo it reflected the suffering of the Ecuadorian indigenous people caused by the white lords, who gave the natives cruel and inhumane treatment.

Two years after its first edition, Icaza’s novel toured the world at the hands of Editorial Sol, which made it the novel of the year. Some consider that this work eclipsed the rest of the author’s work, with which he also addressed the life of Ecuadorian mestizos.

In 1935, he published On the streets, which won the First Prize in the National Contest of Grupo América in Quito. In his plot he mixed the agrarian with the urban element, uniting two worlds that both in life and in literature had been distanced in Ecuador.

He did not completely separate from the theater, where he took his first steps, since he continued to write plays such as Flagellumwhich he published in 1940.


In 1937 he founded the Agencia General de Publicaciones bookstore, together with Pedro Jorge Vera and Genaro Carnero Checa. In that establishment the Guayaquil intelligentsia met, but it did not produce great profits. The following year he began editing the Writers and Artists Union magazine.

In 1940, Icaza attended the 1st Indigenous Congress in Mexico and acted as a lecturer in Costa Rica. Thanks to huasipungothe fame of the Ecuadorian quickly spread throughout the continent.

He was always concerned about the recognition and work of the artists of his country. For this reason, he contributed to the foundation, in 1944, of the House of Ecuadorian Culture.

He maintained links with the political left. Icaza’s work was always loaded with social content. He attended the inauguration of Venezuelan President Rómulo Gallegos, who, like Icaza, was a writer.

In 1949 he served the government of Galo Plaza as Cultural Attaché in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Ten years later he held the position of Director of the National Library. Around this time, he undertook an international tour that took him to the Soviet Union, China, and several European countries.

Last years

Starting in the 1970s, Jorge Icaza claimed that he felt his health was deteriorating. Despite this, he strongly resisted almost another decade of life in which he even published some works.

In 1973 he was in the United States as a lecturer and later began to serve as Ambassador of the Republic of Ecuador to the Soviet Union, Poland and West Germany.


Jorge Icaza died on May 26, 1978 in Quito, at the age of 71. The writer suffered from stomach cancer.


Jorge Icaza showed great interest in the life of Ecuadorian indigenous people and mestizos in his texts. That is why he was considered one of the most important indigenous writers on the continent, along with José María Arguedas.

His style, of crude realism, was always associated with denunciation and social commitment, and his work contributed to giving visibility to the problems that indigenous people were going through, not only in Ecuador, but throughout the Americas.

Works by Jorge Icaza


huasipungo (1934).

On the streets (1935).

cholos (1938).

dazzled half life (1942).

Huairapamushcas (1948).

The chulla Romero and Flores (1958).

in the chola house (1959).

Short stories

sierra mud (1933).

six stories (1952).

stories (1969).

Caught up and The oath (1972).

big canyon and Mama Pacha (posthumous, 1981).


– The intruder (1928).

– The comedy without a name (1929).

– By the old (1929).

– Which is it? (1931).

as they want (1931).

Without sense (1932).

Flagellum (1936).


Jorge Icaza Colonel. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org.
Icaza Colonel Jorge. Recovered from enciclopediadelecuador.com.
Jorge Icaza. Recovered from essayists.org.
Castellano, P. and Orero Sáez de Tejada, C. (2000). Spanish Encyclopedia.

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