This is the translation into English of a work considered to be of some consequence in South America, its title being El Lazarillo de Ciegos Caminantes. It is a rambling mixture of itinerary and a general miscellany describing a journey from Buenos Aires to Lima in the late colonial period and including distance tables in the back and a short glossary of terms.
It is difficult for the reviewer to know what to say about such a volume when he believes in the first instance that the work does not merit the efforts of a translator. Indeed in this instance the translator admits to the awkwardness of the style of the original, its prolixity, and its superior interest in “mules and mudholes.” To this I would add that the content is vague and sheds little or no light on the period; the details are seldom germane (except regarding mules); its jokes and ventures into preciosity are insipid; and its historical value almost nil. As for that part of the route covered which I myself could control from my own knowledge, I found that every fact of importance concerned with that route was neglected or distorted. The part on Cuzco, which is meant to be central in the reader’s interest, is juvenile and without value except for the annual corrida which is superficially described. The poorest of the many guide-books to Cuzco is in comparison a treasure.
In mitigation of these strictures one might add that Irving Leonard, in his introduction to the book, describes it as a prose work “with novelistic elements.” Also something of value does come through on the mule drive from the pampas up to the sierra in the late eighteenth century. Surely, however, for those of us interested in developing studies concerned with South America there are more important works to bring to the attention of the reader of English than this!