Noche Oscura en Lima is a beginning reader, offered for second-semester college and second-year high-school classes. Its authors have attempted to write an interesting mystery story, embodying many of the idioms of highest frequency and a basic vocabulary. The setting is present-day Peru. In the development of the plot, which has its beginnings in Lima and Callao, we go by airplane, with interesting glimpses of the countryside, to Arequipa; thence by train to Cuzco, ancient capital of the Inca Empire; and finally on foot into the lofty Peruvian Andes.
The vocabulary (excluding numerals and proper names) contains the first 1,000 words of Buchanan’s Graded Spanish Word Book, plus 67 from the next 100. In addition to these there are only 127 words, of which 26 are cognates. The total vocabulary is 1,194 words. If we assume, as seems reasonable, that the student will have learned the first 500 words of the basic list in the first semester of college Spanish or in the first year of high-school Spanish, then he will meet only 694 new words in reading Noche Oscura en Lima.
Constructions considered to be even slightly difficult for the beginner are explained in the notes, which also provide data on the history and geography of Peru.
Exercises are provided for each chapter. They include drill on idiomatic expressions, a review of irregular, radical-changing, orthographic-changing, and reflexive verbs, uses of the imperfect and preterit, of the prepositions para and por, a review of the imperative and subjunctive moods, and translation of connected matter from English to Spanish. A questionnaire is furnished beginning with chapter 21. In order to compel a progressive mastery of the limited vocabulary and prevent a mere matching of words, no English-Spanish vocabulary is supplied.
The story is especially suitable for oral practice, and many chapters may easily be dramatized in class, since the dialogue involves no long paragraphs.
The authors are sincerely grateful to Mr. Max Ríos Ríos of Brooklyn College and to Mr. Richard Brun of New York University for reading the manuscript and offering valuable criticism, and to Mr. Edward C. Caswell for his skillful interpretation of the spirit of the story and his faithful attention to detail in making the illustrations.
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