The <i>As If</i> of the Book of Kings

Mark Thurner

in History's Peru

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780813035383
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038940 | DOI:
The As If of the Book of Kings

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This chapter is a meditation on the brilliant art and theory behind the early-eighteenth-century histories of Spain and Peru written by the Creole polymath Pedro de Peralta Barnuevo (1664–1743). This chapter suggests that colonial dynastic history was a “letter to the king” that was written not so much as a libellus but as if the ear of the distant king was within its acoustical range. Composed within imaginary royal earshot, dynastic histories would not only require the prescribed forms of a respectful appeal but also a bright-eyed, noble, and sweet poetics worthy of the educated king or prince whom it “imitated” in word. In short, history would acquire the noble aura of the sovereign subject to whom it was addressed. As if presence in words of the imaginary prince, history was, in the words of Pedro de Peralta Barnuevo, an “animated reason” that was “truer than life.” As animated reason, history could stand in a sovereign, critical and futural position vis-à-vis the people it tutored.

Keywords: art; theory; early-eighteenth-century histories; Spain; Peru; Pedro de Peralta Barnuevo; libellus; sovereign; colonial dynastic history; letter to the king

Chapter.  10599 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Society and Culture

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