More girlfriends of César Vallejo

Clinically speaking, I think Vallejo may have suffered from an anxiety disorder. The conditions of his life exacerbated this. He put a great deal of effort into riding it out and calming down, and strove toward breakthrough moments of feeling happy and well. In the era of living with Henriette the menu was boiled potatoes with salt and red wine. He seems to have taken all sorts of drugs, including ether and pasta básica de cocaína. He talks about heroin and other drugs and medicines in his poems.

The stormy relationships with the girlfriends also bespeak some sort of attachment disorder and his friends appear to have felt it too. Neither Georgette nor Larrea could let him go and they fought over him long after his death. Also, if one is to be interested in the circumstances of his life, I would like to know the logistics of spending whole nights with these underage and correctly brought up girls, in Trujillo and Lima in the 1910s. How was this arranged?

Here is a 1999 biography and commentary. Clearly I did not pay enough attention to Espejo Asturrizaga when I read him, or I was looking for other things in his book, but this book uses him and he apparently answers a lot of the questions I have thought of since deciding to play by creating the character César Vallejo, the rake. I had just been thinking wickedly, Vallejo’s women problems must have to do with Catholicism. Evidently I am far from the first to think so.

In any case Vallejo, says Raúl Torres Martínez, is a cholo and a migrant and in this way he is primordially Peruvian. This book, while not at all earth shaking looks fairly good, as it starts by pointing out that both Vallejo’s writing and his life are hard to read and have thus lent themselves to highly speculative readings not necessarily well anchored in reality. I saw an article a few years ago which postulated that Vallejo tried to project himself as a kind of optical illusion.

This book also says he had “ancestral” sentiments, which indicates you can in fact have these (it is a belief in Peru, as we know from that film by Claudia Llosa, but I think it is possible generally). As a child he was like the Ernesto character in Los ríos profundos, subject to variable emotions, and throughout life he was always capable of joking and bonhomie even though as an adult, he lived under the sign of sadness. He could dance huaynos and more. He is “the Van Gogh of poets,” it has been said. (13)

Continuing on, I see this book is quite worth reading for a review of information and for good sense; although not ground breaking, it is well researched. I am skipping ahead to the section on women. As we know, he ended up with Georgette and the reason for it was gender roles and sex. (122) Torres Martínez next talks about amour-passion and its relationship to sadomasochism. Espejo said Vallejo suffered and caused suffering. He had these submissive young girlfriends and he was demanding, jealous and cruel.

According to Espejo he was emotionally unstable because he had been raised in this strict Catholic environment and was also spoiled by his mother and sisters (he was the youngest of 11). When Zoila Rosa broke up with him he, high on ether, put a revolver to his head, pulling the trigger. There was only one bullet in it and it was not in the right chamber, and he did not try again. And now I am foiled since this is a Google book and the selection ends on page 126, when there are actually 300 pages.



Filed under Noticias, Poetry

13 responses to “More girlfriends of César Vallejo

  1. Of course I know nothing of this poet, but I nonetheless find this fascinating.

  2. Z

    Oh, good. I started looking for books on masculinity on the theory someone might have some analysis. I found a book on Mexico according to which the singer Agustín Lara, famous for being from my town of last summer, Tlacotalpan, turns out not to be from there — he fabricated that as part of his artistic identity and people believe it!

    We still do not know about Vallejo, though. To what extent was it convention for him to be as he was — not to mention entitlement, I think he is gender entitled although everyone ignores this since he is supposed to be so generally dispossessed — and to what extent was he just off the wall neurotic?

  3. Z

    Purported to be a comment on Vallejo’s cultural context by Paul Julian Smith:

    “In this society, women are too compromised by interiority and abstraction to serve as the material base against which the cultural superstructure can be thrown into relief. This is a labour which can only be entrusted to men.” (Body Hispanic 166)

  4. Z

    Stephen Hart’s chronology. My God there is a lot of work to do on this.

  5. Jonathan Mayhew

    Wow. What a comment from PJ Smith. I don’t even know where to start.

  6. hattie

    WOW. I was just about to say what Julian said.

  7. Z

    @Hattie, you mean Jonathan, I presume. PJS is just like that, though, it seems to me. Misognynistic, superficial, and lacking in life experience.

    The question is, to find my copy of that book and look at this context, and to wonder, is that what Vallejo secretly thought.

  8. Jonathan Mayhew

    I feel I ought to like what he does with Lorca but end up not liking it so much. I don’t know whether that is the narcissism of small differences or whether I just really have problems with him.

    Not confused with him very often….

  9. Z

    Well, PJS does try, you have to give him that. And there is a lot to be said for cranking it out. And I was excited when he started coming out with those books, because he was a person coming out with interesting themes and topics to discuss re Peninsular literature. He tries to cover too much so it ends up being less satisfying than it could be, I think.

  10. Z

    UPDATE: My student says the more you do research to try to deconstruct the Larrea myth and find something historical, the more it seems you add to the mythologizing, because what you turn up is so eccentric and varied.

    So what is it? Is it that he is a migrant among so many worlds we have not seen? Would he be on Prozac today, or on skid row, or would he be less strange if less stressed out by malnutrition and poor heating, or was he just kind of machista and slightly extravagant and taken by art?

    Is it that he is a fluctuating subject that people are trying to make solid?

  11. Z

    It is not only Larrea and Georgette who could not get over Vallejo. There is also Clayton Eshleman. All of these people are more than simply interested, or simply experts.

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