Françoise de Graffigny: Lettres d'une Péruvienne [Letters of a Peruvian Woman]

(1023 words)

Mme de Graffigny's short novel was a great success in its own time, both in French and in translation (including four versions in English). A work of remarkable intelligence and ambition, it has deservedly acquired some academic prominence in ours. The story is told through letters by the heroine – who is in fact an Inca Princess. Raised as a Temple Virgin, the youthful Zilia is affianced by custom but also by love to her close relative (fairly clearly her older brother), the Crown Prince Aza. But on the day of the marriage the Inca capital is invaded by the Spanish conquistadors. Imprisoned alone, Zilia is then placed on a Spanish ship which is captured by the French. Their gallant young commander Déterville, clearly smitten by this …

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Howells, Robin. "Lettres d'une Péruvienne". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 November 2009
[, accessed 10 October 2015.]