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.