Language, Authority, and Indigenous History in the “Comentarios reales de los Incas”

Image of cover of book
Zamora, M. Language, Authority, and Indigenous History in the “Comentarios Reales De Los Incas”. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

IRH Fellow:
Margarita Zamora, 2001-2002 Resident Fellow

The Comentarios reales de los Incas, a classic of Spanish Renaissance prose narrative, was written by Garcilaso Inca de la Vega, the son of an Inca princess and a Spanish conquistador. It is filled with ideological tensions and apparent contradictions as Garcilaso attempts to reconcile a pagan New World culture with the fervent Christian evangelism of the period of the discovery and conquest of America. This study of the Commentarios, is original both in adopting the perspective of discourse analysis and in its interdisciplinary approach. Margarita Zamora examines the rhetorical complexities of the Comentarios, and shows how Garcilaso turned to the linguistic strategies of humanist philology and hermeneutics rather than traditional historiography in order to present Inca civilization to the Europeans. Zamora’s book reveals how Garcilaso’s views of the Incas were shaped by his dual background, his commitment to humanism and Christianity, by the expectations he had of his readers, and by the disruptive practices of his time.