Miguel Ángel Asturias (1899–1974)
Hombres de maíz
Buenos Aires: Editorial Losada, 1949
The celebrated writer Asturias was born and raised in Guatemala. He is perhaps most famous for his novel El señor presidente, inspired by the life of Guatemalan dictator Manuel Estrada Cabrera. Trained as a lawyer, Asturias wrote his thesis in Guatemala on the “The Social Problem of the Indian.” His ideas on the Maya evolved over the decades.
While Hombres de maíz is not a “Maya novel,” it is a great work of literature that brought new awareness to Maya culture worldwide, in the tradition of the novela indigenista, or indigenous novel. Its title, Men of Maize, acknowledges the creation story of the Popol Vuh, in which humans are successfully fashioned from maize.
Asturias received a Nobel Prize for literature in 1967. A concrete cast of a Maya stele, shown below, marks his grave in Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.
William A. Whitaker Fund
Rare Book Collection PQ7499 .A75 H6 1949
Asturias stele, color photograph, 1996.
Lent for exhibition by Claudia Funke