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About the Book

The Villagers is a story of the ruthless exploitation and extermination of an Indian village of Ecuador by its greedy landlord. First published in 1934, itis here available for the first time in an authorized English translation.

A realistic tale in the best tradition of the novels of social protest of Zola, Dosto­evsky, José Eustasio Rivera, and the Mexican novels of the Revolution, The Villagers (Huasipungo) shocked and horrified its readers, and brought its author mingled censure and acclaim, when itwas first published in 1934.

Deeply moving in the dramatic intensity of its relentless evolution and stark human suffering, Icaza’s novel has been translated into eleven foreign languages, including Russian and Chinese, and has gone through numerous editions in Spanish, including a revised and enlarged edition in 1953,on which this translation is based, but ithas never before been authorized for translation into English. His first novel, but not his first published work, The Villagers is still considered by most critics as Icaza’s best, and itis widely acclaimed as one of the most significant works in contemporary Latin American literature.

Thirty years after its original publication in Ecuador, The Villagers still carries a powerful message for the contemporary world and an urgent warning. The conditions here portrayed prevail in these areas, even today. The Villagers is an indictment of the latifundista system and a caustic picture of the native worker who, with little expectation from life, finds himself a victim of an antiquated feudal system aided and abetted by a grasping clergy and an indifferent govern­ment.


The author, Jorge Icaza, was born in 1906,in Quito, Ecuador, where he still lives and where he owns and manages a book store. A dramatist and a short-story writer as well as a novelist, Icaza is the author of over fifteen plays, collections of stories, and six novels. His most recent novel, El Chulla Romero y Flores,appeared in 1958.

The translator, Bernard M. Dulsey, is Professor of Spanish in the Uni­versity of Missouri at Kansas City. Mr. Dulsey, who received his doctorate from the University of Illinois, is prose fiction editor for Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia for the Handbook of Latin American Studies,the yearly publication of the Library of Congress, and a contributor to various scholarly journals in this country and abroad.


“A naturalistic account of the life of the Ecuadorian Indian, which carries a power­ful statement of social protest against the capitalistic forces that exploit and per­petuate the misery of the rural huasipun­guero… Bernard Dulsey’s translation of The Villagers delivers all the impact of the original Spanish version.”—Saturday Review

“Shocking details, sex, and crude language are necessary parts of this reve­lation of avarice and bestiality… After 30 years, the author’s fury and compassion illuminate conditions which still exist among the Andean Indians.”—Library Journal