Library of Santiago de Cárdenas

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The eighteenth century gave birth to a celebrated character of the Peruvian history, whose memory has hardly survived until now, under the shadow of the Tradiciones peruanas (oral tradition stories) of Ricardo Palma, that called him “El Volador” (the flyer). This personage was Santiago de Cárdenas, native of Lima, ingenious craftsman, sailor, hatter and autodidact researcher on the flight of birds. Owner of a mordant style of writing, he is remembered as the author of a curious and fascinating manuscript where he predicts –without knowing- the scientific aviation progress one century in advance.  However his voice was silenced by the incomprehension and satire of his contemporaries, until now, when he is still remembered as eccentric and extravagant.

The Santiago de Cárdenas Library has been built as a bibliographical collection of the main documentary sources that the author quotes, directly or indirectly in his manuscript.  The attention has been drawn, therefore, towards those titles referred by Cárdenas in some of his many explanations; but also to the authors mentioned, looking for the best bibliographic associations related to the passages where they appear. These passages have been quoted in reference to the first edition of the 1937 transcription from the original manuscript of 1762.

We have to close this short preamble emphasizing that most of the books collected did not reach two centuries of age and were in Spanish or mainly in French (with the exception of Alciato and Aristotle). These will reflect how limited was the academic information that Cárdenas was able to access, or how much he was able to take advantage, understanding only books written in the two languages.

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