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Since at least the second half of the nineteenth century, writers and commentators as well as ordinary people constructed an idealized representation of old, colonial Lima as a city of beauty, charm, and prosperity. Even life among poor and working-class people, popular customs, and picaresque behavior were imagined as part of a familiar, friendly urban space, one whose continuity was threatened by economic progress, urban growth, political changes, and the overall fascination with “modern” lifestyles. Traditionalist Ricardo Palma has been singled out as one of the most effective inventors of the myth of the “old Lima,” but he was certainly...

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