Now I need to come up with something about Marthe Robert and Doris Sommer and María and more. I was allowing myself to read a little more about Vallejo before going on, and I discovered a very, very important fact. Namely, the kind of surprise I get for not doing things and not keeping up on things.
One Michelle Clayton has written my Vallejo book. I want to procrastinate everything else by reading this book and blowing my mind. It looks good, so I am very very excited. I want to stop everything and read it instantly, in the hope of discovering there is still something left to write, of course, but mainly just so I can find out what new things it says. They let you have it in .pdf but I want the actual book. I have looked through the .pdf and this text does do a lot of what I wanted done. It cites one of my articles, my second favorite one, as support for a part of its argument. Perhaps my job has been done, but I also want to immerse my own self in Vallejo.
This is exciting. Just think, a non-pedantic and objective person has written a whole new interesting book on Vallejo, that may solve a lot of our problems. If I had not come upon this today, how long would it have been before I found out about it? How terrible that would have been! And to have found out about it when I was precisely looking for things, what a stroke of luck! And most of the rest of this post was written before I made this discovery, when I was still innocent of this major discovery, which eclipses it.
Now we return to our regular programming, namely, what I was doing before. I was saying that I of course like Vallejo because he is an original poet but had not really wondered what he was like as a person until I decided to invoke him up as a study partner and spirit guide for work–one could do worse, you know–, and started investigating his life so as to remove the shadow of the myth from the poetry. And it seems Georgette and Larrea literally created themselves from him. I have an interesting piece on Larrea by one Juan F. Villar-Dégano that I have now read twice, and it refers to a 1988 piece on the same topic by one Amancio Sabugo Abril (Cuadernos Hispanoamericanos) that I must see.
Meanwhile I want to continue with RQ 49:2 (Spring 2002), where the article by Hart, which I have now also read twice, appears. Here is what this issue has to offer:
César Vallejo in the New Millennium: Foreword. Stephen M. Hart.
Novedad, azar y selección en la poesía de César Vallejo (Algunas enseñanzas de sus manuscritos). Juan Fló. This is about the copies of the lost manuscripts he found in Rama’s study.
- César Vallejo y sus espejismos. Stephen M. Hart.
- Vallejo as Icon. James Higgins.
- Vallejo and the End of History. George Lambie. This is about the Spanish civil war poetry, Vallejo’s politics and ideology.
- Rescuing the Future: César Vallejo and Postcolonial Thought. Keith MacDuffie.
I want to just leaf through these, as though I were in a library and could touch the pages. MacDuffie is smart and shows how smart Vallejo is, and here we have the case for a yet more extensive intellectual and political biography; this would be truly interesting (I wrote those words before discovering Clayton’s book which does some of this). There are several pieces in the summer issue of RQ as well, and the other piece I want to look at tonight is Higgins’.
Higgins says Vallejo as icon:
“occupies a special place in the Peruvian psyche” because his stature as poet adds value and prestige to the country and because people do ‘relate’ to him and to his texts in a couple of ways significant to Peruvians. For one, since Peru produced Vallejo nobody doubted Peruvians could produce poetry of global significance and “that they did not have to sacrifice their own identity to do so.”
“In fact, if Vallejo became Latin America’s most radical poetic innovator it was because he had the maturity and self-belief to absorb European influences and develop a voice of his own. Vallejo is very much a cosmopolitan writer in that his work is informed by the major intellectual currents of the age, but his work is also rooted in a cultural tradition that is recognizably Peruvian, or more specifically, Andean. His poetry repeatedly measures modern Western urban society against the Andean cultural tradition in which he was brought up and continually finds it wanting in the communal values characteristic of Andean society.”
“However, Vallejo’s iconic status extends far beyond literary circles. It is noteworthy that though he never became an international superstar like Mario Vargas Llosa, he enjoys a status in Peru that Vargas Llosa will never have. Partly that is because of his political credentials, because he is perceived as someone who in his life and his writings championed the cause of the marginalized sectors of society. Partly it is because, as a serrano and a cholo, he is someone with whom those Peruvians who are not coastal creoles can identify as one of their own….[F]or those Peruvians of provincial origin who do read his poetry, it encapsulates much of their own experience.”
“Though susceptible of being interpreted in different ways, that persona can be linked to a crippling sense of inferiority that many provincials of mixed race experience, one conditioned by a colonial legacy of racial and cultural discrimination and which has seriously disadvantaged them in their struggle for social emergence.”
“Vallejo’s life and work also encapsulate provincial Peruvians’ ambivalence toward the center, toward Lima and the modern Western world.”
“Th[e] aspiration to break out of provincial underdevelopment would seem to be a constant of Peruvian life….”
“Vallejo’s poetry…asserts his Andean identity even as he is being incorporated into the Western world. In Trilce “LXV” (383) he vows to his dead mother–a recurrent emblem of Andean cultural values–to undertake a pilgrimage to his native Santiago to receive her blessing and to place himself once more under her care[.]“
“However, it emerges that he is not talking about a physical return. Instead, he implies, his way of getting back to his roots is by living up to her “fórmula de amor,” to the legacy of sharing that she bequeathed to her children[.]“
“More than that, he looks forward to a future when, as the world learns to live by the values that she embodied, the divided human family will be reunited. It is when that day eventually arrives that he will go back to his roots in a homecoming that is visualized simultaneously as a return to the womb and as an entry into a sacred shrine.”
“What Vallejo is saying, in effect, is that one does not have to live in the Andes to be Andean; that one can become westernized without sacrificing one’s Andean identity; that Andean cultural traditions are strong enough to survive the transition to Western modernity….”