Los amores de Hortensia, that initiates the cycle of novels by Mercedes Cabello de Carbonera (1842-1909), owes some of its characters attributes of extreme sensibility, beauty and intelligence to the longevity of Romanticism in Latin America during the nineteenth-century. Yet, the protagonists search for independence, her intellectual superiority, and above all, her lucid understanding of the dynamics of gender and class within the asphyxiating atmosphere of Limas upper-crust society, transgress the limits of the romantic heroine and plant her firmly in the tradition of the naturalistic narrative. Her tragic destiny is sealed with a marriage of convenience at an early age. She discovers true love, but also deception, selfishness and the basest of instincts among those who surround her. After almost 125 years of neglect, we offer this edition of the first novel By Cabello de Carbonera, as an indispensable text for Latin American and gender studies scholars and students to explore the complex relationship the author held with the realist and naturalist movements of the nineteenth-century. There has been much uncertainty about its date of publication. It was first published in Lima in the newspaper, La Nación, (1887), and later on that same year, in book form, by the Imprenta de Torres Aguirre. Ismael Pinto Vargas, her most recent and thorough biographer, concluded in 2003 that the novel had been published in Paris by the journal, El Correo de Ultramar, surely before the publications demise in early 1886. His conjectures are supported by none other than the author herself in her dedication of her novel, Sacrificio y recompensa (1886) to her friend and mentor, the Argentinean writer, Juana Manuela Gorriti. This edition confirms his findings, and echoes the renewed interest in the works of Cabello de Carbonera as pioneer of the realist and naturalist novel in Latin America.
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