Remembering José Miguel Oviedo (1934-2019)

LALS is deeply saddened by the loss of José Miguel Oviedo, Trustee Professor of Latin American Literature in the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Pennsylvania. 


A prolific writer and literary critic from Peru, José Miguel Oviedo was instrumental in advancing Latin American research at Penn. His is widely known as a scholar of Peruvian and Latin American Literature, and he is the author of the two-volume history of Latin American literature: Historia de la literaturea hispanoamericana, which is divided into two works – De lo orígenes a la Emancipación (1995) and Del Romanticismo al Modernismo (1997).  His critical reviews and surveys covered authors such as Ricardo Palma, Mario Vargas Llosa, and José Martí, and he compiled a variety of anthologies of Peruvian prose and poetry, and Cuban and 19th century Latin American short stories, among other pieces.  He also published several short story collections, including: Soledad & Compañía (1987), La vida maravillosa (1988) and Cuaderno imaginario (1996).


José Miguel Oviedo was the Director of the Casa de Cultura de Perú, and he received prestigious and important scholarships such as the Guggenheim fellowship and Rockefeller grant.


He is remembered fondly and brightly by many LALS affiliated faculty members and LALS students.  Several years ago, LALS named the annual undergraduate student paper award in his honor.  


We are forever grateful and indebted for his tremendous contributions to Latin American literature and to our Latin American and Latino Studies program. 


Please find below a remembrance written by Ignacio Javier López, Professor and Chair of the Department of Romance Languages,  José Miguel Oviedo’s home department at Penn.


Also, please find here his obituary in Spanish published in El Comercio.


Here are some other articles about his life:


Written by Ignacio Javier López, Professor and Chair, Department of Romance Languages 


 José Miguel Oviedo (1934-2019), Trustee Professor of Latin American literature in the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Pennsylvania, died yesterday at his home in Philadelphia. A native of Lima, Perú, José Miguel Oviedo was a member of the famous Peruvian Generation of 1950. A world-known specialist on Latin American literature and culture, he did his primary education at the Colegio La Salle in Lima, where he shared a desk with Nobel Prize-winning novelist Mario Vargas Llosa. Later in his career Professor Oviedo would become one of the world's best-known scholars on Vargas Llosa's literary production.  In 1958, after he finished his doctorate, he was appointed professor at his alma mater, the Pontificia Universidad Católica de San Marcos in Lima. Ten years later, in 1968, he moved to England and began what would be a very successful international career that took him to the United States in 1975.  He was a member of the faculty at the State University of New York, Indiana University, and UCLA. In 1988 he came to Penn where he was appointed Trustee Professor. At Penn, he had many exceptional scholarly achievements, and it was at the university that he completed what is arguably his most important critical work, the four-volume History of Latin American Literature (Historia de la Literatura Latinoamericana), which he published with Alianza, in Madrid (Spain), in four installments between 1995-2000. He wrote books and articles on a multitude of topics and authors including José Martí, Ricardo Palma, and Sandinista literature in revolutionary Nicaragua, all the while continuing to be Mario Vargas Llosa's most persuasive interpreter. He was a frequent collaborator in the daily press with contributions to journals such as El País, Revista de Occidente and El Mundo in Madrid; Caretas and Debate, in Lima; Vuelta, in Mexico; and, World Literature Today, in Oklahoma. He received prestigious fellowships including a Guggenheim (1991) and a Rockefeller. In his native Perú, he served as Director de la Casa de Cultura (1970-1973).  He passed away on December 19, 2019 in Philadelphia.  He was 85 years old.