Who is speaking? Sense and self in Vallejo
César Vallejo is considered one of the most important Latin American writers of the twentieth century. Yet with the complexity of his texts, his doubled, branching voices, and the controversies over his editions and manuscript traditions, he became both myth and interpretive battleground before most of his work was available to read. Vallejo’s transformation into a cultural artifact began in the 1920s, when critic José Carlos Mariátegui sought a prototypical Peruvianness in his work. The marketing of Vallejo after his death presents a mysterious, but also unchanging figure: the shadowy voice of a body speaking of orphanhood, poverty and the pain of being. The early critics’ attachment to this dark image promoted reductive readings. The postmodernist corrective, to see Vallejo as a writer of fractured subjectivity, has value but more useful are the ideas of cultural layering and a subjectivity that is neither unitary nor “fragmented,” but plural, distributed, mobile. This presentation would consider Vallejo in light of Foucault’s “What is an author?” Angamben’s “The author as gesture,” and some contemporary Vallejo criticism (Clayton, Granados, Hart, González Viaña). Key texts are the prose poem “Las ventanas se han estremecido” [The windows have shuddered, 1924], the novella “Fabla salvaje” [Savage Fable/Wild Speech, 1923], the novel El tungsteno [Tungsten, 1931] and the post-epic poetry of España, aparta de mí este cáliz [Spain, take this cup from me, 1938].