Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Brief History of Puerto Rico's Literature

Puerto Rico's literature dates back to the era of conquest and colonization. The early settlers, along with friars and governors, began to describe the new land they had discovered and its Taíno inhabitants. Their letters and documents provide clues to what life was like in the Caribbean before the coming of Columbus.

Notable in this collection are letters written by Puerto Rico's first governor, Ponce de León, to both the rulers in Spain and the ecclesiastical hierarchies in Seville. Here are found the first descriptions of the "conquistadores", the vocabulary and descriptions of the mythological rites of the Taíno people appear for the first time. Many pre-Columbian names have survived, town names such as: Humacao, Coamo, Utuado, and Caguas. It is believed that the Taíno language became extinct by mid-16th century, although pockets of Amerindian culture may have survived in the remote hinterlands.

Spanish cronists like Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, Fray Tomás de la Torre, Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, and others are among the most notable writings about the island...

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