Alfredo Pareja Diezcanseco

Alfredo Pareja Diezcanseco (October 12, 1908 – May 1, 1993)[1] — born Alfredo Pareja y Díez Canseco — was a prominent Ecuadorian novelist, essayist, journalist, historian and diplomat. An innovator of the 20th-century Latin American novel, he was a founding member of the literary Grupo de Guayaquil ("Group of Guayaquil"), which brought a new emphasis to realistic novels.[2]

Alfredo Pareja Diezcanseco
Pareja in 1990
Pareja in 1990
Born(1908-10-12)October 12, 1908
Guayaquil, Ecuador
DiedMay 1, 1993(1993-05-01) (aged 84)
Quito, Ecuador
OccupationNovelist, Essayist, Journalist, Historian, Diplomat

The government of President Jaime Roldós Aguilera (1979–81) appointed Pareja as Chancellor of the Republic and he also served as Foreign Minister of Ecuador (1979–80) and Ambassador to France (1983–84). His books have not yet been translated into English.


Pareja was born in Guayaquil in 1908, the son of Fernando Pareja y Pareja (1862-1919) and of Amalia Diez-Canseco y Coloma (1865–1945), daughter of the former Peruvian President Francisco Diez Canseco y Corbacho and his wife. Pareja had to support his family from the age of 14. He read at night and assisted as a gate listener at the Colegio Vicente Rocafuerte, which was co-ed until 1937. He would monitor student conversations to ensure proper decorum.[3]

Pareja completed his early education in his hometown: primary school at the Colegio San Luis Gonzaga of the Christian Brothers. In 1927 Pareja and Jorge Pérez Concha founded the magazine Voluntad in collaboration with Leopoldo Benites Vinueza, but they published only six issues.

In 1930, Pareja embarked on an adventure in the United States. As a result of the Great Depression, he worked on the New York City docks for a year (his later novel El Muelle (The Pier, 1933) reflects these experiences).

After returning to Ecuador, he received his licenciado [es] from the University of Guayaquil.[4] He became a professor of history and of Spanish and Spanish American literature at Universidad Laica Vicente Rocafuerte de Guayaquil. He also served as a Superintendent of Secondary Education and as a deputy of Guayas Province.

In 1934 he married Mercedes Cucalón Concha, a second cousin and niece of Carlos Concha Torres and his wife. They had three children together: Cecilia, Jorge and Francisco.

Political issuesEdit

As an intellectual who was attracted to socialist ideas, Pareja sometimes was at cross purposes with the ruling governments in Ecuador.

During the dictatorship of Federico Páez (1935–37), Pareja was incarcerated and ultimately exiled to Chile. There he worked for the Ercilla Publishing House. Returning to Ecuador, he became a member of the Assembly, but was jailed again by the regime of President Aurelio Mosquera Narvaez. (This 30-day detainment formed the basis of his novel, Hombres sin tiempo).

In 1944 Pareja was appointed as Ecuador's chargé d'affaires in Mexico. In 1945 he became a special representative for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in Washington D.C. He later served in Montevideo and Buenos Aires, coordinating for the governments of México, Central American nations, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay.

Between August 1979 and July 1980, during the government of President Jaime Roldós Aguilera, Pareja was appointed to the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs. During the rule of Roldós's successor, President Osvaldo Hurtado, he served as Permanent Delegate to UNESCO and Ambassador to Paris (1983–84).

After retirement, Pareja dedicated his time to historical research. He died in Quito on 1 May 1993.

Literary works and political stanceEdit

Pareja was born into a conservative family but became part of a “socialist generation” in Ecuador. He lived through considerable political turmoil in the 1920s and concluded that his country's salvation lay on the left side of the political spectrum. He denied, however, being a “left-winger”.

He insisted that he did not want to use his fiction as an instrument of propaganda. Rather, he sought to simply and directly depict social conditions that called for redress, while denouncing those in power who were guilty of corruption and injustice. His first novel, La casa de los locos (1929), satirized Ecuadorian politics. He attacked so many living people that publication was considerably delayed. Pareja attested to the strong influence of the Mexican writer and politician José Vasconcelos. Other major literary influences included the Greek classics, Balzac, Dostoievski, Thomas Mann, Will Durant and Arnold Toynbee. Some critics have also detected the influence of Freud, Ehrenburg, Gide and Proust.

Pareja's cycle of narrative fiction was marked by realism and a strong connection with the history of his country (El muelle [“The Pier”], 1933; Hombres sin tiempo [“Men Without Time”], 1941; Las tres ratas [The Three Rats], 1944). Having established a reputation as a writer both inside and outside of Ecuador, in 1944 he published an important biographical novel, The Barbaric Bonfire, about the actions and historical circumstances surrounding the life and death of General Eloy Alfaro.

He started a new cycle of novels n 1956 with La advertencia (“The Warning") and continued with El aire y los recuerdos (“Air and Memories”; 1959) and Los poderes omnímodos (“All-embracing Powers”; 1964). He was writing about the evolution of Ecuadorian society since 1925. Subsequently, he published the novel Las pequeñas estaturas ("Small Statures"; 1970). He also wrote essays: “Thomas Mann and the New Humanism” (1956) and “Essays on Essays” (1981). (To date his works have not been translated into English.)

Pareja maintained a long association with the famous "Guayaquil Group" of Ecuadorian writers (José de la Cuadra, Joaquín Gallegos Lara, Demetrio Aguilera Malta, Enrique Gil Gilbert). He also associated with writers from other countries: Jorge Luis Borges, Juan David García Bacca, John Dos Passos, Arnold Toynbee, Julio Cortázar, Alvaro Mutis, Jorge Enrique Adoum, Benjamin Carrión, Oswaldo Guayasamín and his nephew Miguel Donoso Pareja. The only biography about Pareja was written by the journalist and writer Francisco Febres Cordero.

Pareja maintained periodic correspondence with American writer John Steinbeck.

President Galo Plaza Lasso worked with Pareja in educational projects after World War II around the globe, mostly in Central and South America.

Accolades and positionsEdit


Selected worksEdit


Editor, collection of folk poetryEdit

Short StoriesEdit

  • Los gorgojos (Quito, 1954)


  • Breve historia del Ecuador (1946)
  • Historia del Ecuador (1954)
  • La lucha por la democracia en el Ecuador (Quito, 1956)
  • Thomas Mann y el nuevo humanismo (Quito, 1956)
  • El Ecuador de Eloy Alfaro (1966)
  • Historia de la República: El Ecuador desde 1830 a Nuestros días (2 vols.; Guayaquil: Cromograph, 1974)
  • Las Instituciones y la Administración en la Real Audiencia de Quito (Quito, 1975)
  • Ecuador: de la prehistoria à la conquista española (Quito, 1978)
  • Ecuador: la República de 1830 a nuestros días (Quito, 1979)
  • Ensayos de Ensayos (Quito, 1981)
  • Notas de un viaje a China (Quito, 1986)


  • La hoguera bárbara – Vida de Eloy Alfaro (México, 1944), a biography of Ecuadorian president Eloy Alfaro.
  • Vida y leyenda de Miguel de Santiago (México, 1952), a biography of Ecuadorian painter Miguel de Santiago.

Alfredo Pareja is included in the following anthologies:

  • El nuevo relato ecuatoriano (Quito, 1951)
  • Antología básica del cuento ecuatoriano (Quito, 1998)


  • Pareja Diezcanseco, Alfredo (1989), Entry: "Juan Montalvo (1832-1889)"; In Solé, Carlos A (Editor in Chief) and María Isabel Abreu (Associate Editor), Latin American Writers – Volume 1; New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 3 volumes.



  1. ^ "Alfredo Pareja Diezcanseco". (in French). Bibliothèque nationale de France. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  2. ^ Handelsman, Michael (2000), Culture and Customs of Ecuador (Series: Culture and Customs of Latin America and the Caribbean; Series editor: Peter Standish); Westport, Connecticut/London: Greenwood Press, pp 94-97.
  3. ^ Delgado, Jessica L (2018). Laywomen and the Making of Colonial Catholicism in New Spain, 1630–1790. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781108187862. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  4. ^ "Pareja Diezcanseco, Alfredo," in Historians of Latin America in the United States, 1965: Biobibliographies of 680 Specialists. Ed. Howard F. Cline. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1966, 69.

Other sourcesEdit

  • Aguilar-Monsalve, Luis (1942), Alfredo Pareja Diezcanseco y su novela socio-política, 1979, Universidad de California, Los Ángeles. 327 pp. Director: John A. Crow.
  • Gama e Silva, Vicente (1981), "Hacia una sociología de la literatura: acercamiento a la novela 'Pequeñas estaturas', de Alfredo Pareja Diezcanseco", Cultura, 4:11 (Sept/Dec issue), pp 61–91.
  • Heise, Karl H. (1973), La evolution novelistica de Alfredo Pareja Diezcanseco, Buenos Aires/New York: Ediciones de Libreria
  • Madinier, Laurence (1980), Vision de la Société Equatorienne de Guayaquil a travers l'oeuvre d'Alfredo Pareja Diezcanseco, Memoire de Maîtrise [Dissertation: Université de Paris – Nanterre]; Institu d'Etudes Iberiques er Latino-Americaines (June 1980).
  • Neira, Raul Fernando (1990), La experiencia literaria de Alfredo Pareja Diezcanseco: Su primer ciclo novelistico (1929-1944) [Dissertation: The University of Texas at Austin (August 1990)].
  • Rengifo, Alfredo (1990), La narrativa de Alfredo Pareja Diezcanseco, Quito: Ediciones del Banco Central del Ecuador
  • Schwartz, Kessel (1959) “Alfredo Pareja y Diez Canseco, Social Novelist”, Hispania, Vol 42, No. 2, (May), pp 220–228.

External linksEdit