Alonso Ramírez’s Misfortunes

Until recently, when José F. Buscaglia put an end to be debate over whether Alonso Ramírez had been a man of flesh and blood in a work published by Casa las Américas (Carlos de Siguenza y Gongora, Historias del Seno Mexicano, 2009), the study of Los infortunios de Alonso Ramírez (The Misfortunes of Alonso Ramírez) had been confined to the field of Hispanic literatures. Scholarship on the text had been limited primarily to literary scholars and questions about genre and/or history had not received attention. Those who have considered the text as a historical document have focused primarily on matters of authorship concerning the relationship between the chronicler and his transient protagonist. Moreover, this fascinating story of a young native of San Juan de Puerto Rico who took to the seas in search of fortune and ended up circumnavigating the globe, falling into the hands of English pirates in the process, has remained inaccessible to a wide readership.

With this new publication, we get an opportunity to fill the gaps in a century of philological studies, to place the Infortunios in its proper historical context with due attention paid to themes of hydrography and navigation. This work aims to help Sigüenza’s work reach a new audience of students, researchers and the curious. It will finally be possible for readers to follow Ramírez’s wandering from San Juan to Acapulco, Jakarta, and Madras, from Australia to Madagascar, negotiating the passage through the Cape of Good Hope to return across the Atlantic to the Caribbean Sea.

José f. Buscaglia is Professor in the Department of American Studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he is also Professor of hisstory, comparative literature and romance languages. He has taught courses at the universities of Havana, Salamanca and Yucatán. His book, “Undoing Empire, Race, and Nation in the Mulatto Caribbean” (Minnesota, 2003) proposes a post-hegelian view of history and offers a harsh critique of coloniality, racialization, the Creole nationalist ideology and the U.S. imperial project.

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