VENEZUELAN LITERATURE has not received the international recognition, or even the attention, that has been accorded to that of other major Latin American countries. In part this is explained by the fact that in the 1960s, when the "Boom" propelled Latin American fiction onto the world stage and saw it gain unprecedented international acclaim, Venezuelan literature remained on the margins of the phenomenon. None of its writers attained the world celebrity achieved, for example, by Colombia's Gabriel García Márquez, Argentina's Julio Cortázar, and Mario Vargas LIosa of Peru. Writing in their countries, and in some others, continued to enjoy a high profile worldwide for decades afterward because of the critical and commercial success provided by the Boom. The attention of international critics and readers was uneven, however, and Venezuelan literature enjoyed little of the limelight. The situation has been slow to change. Nonetheless, work of outstanding quality has been written; and several writers, such as Rómulo Gallegos, Guillermo Meneses, and Arturo Uslar Pietri, have rightly won praise abroad and have become major figures in Hispanic literature. It is also true that Venezuela, though not prominent at the time of the Boom, has had a major impact on Latin American literature at other times in its history.
For most literary historians, the independence movement at the beginning of the nineteenth century generated the first significant works of literature in Venezuela, with the pre—Hispanic and colonial periods that preceded it generally considered devoid of worthwhile literary production. It is undoubtedly true that pre-Hispanic Venezuela, comprised of scattered, nomadic indigenous communities, did not produce a rich body of literature comparable