Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
César Vallejo

César Vallejo: A Literary Biography

Series: Monografías A
Volume: 317
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 296
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    César Vallejo
    Book Description:

    This is the first biography of Latin America's most important poet, the Peruvian César Vallejo, who was born in an Andean village, Santiago de Chuco, on 16 March 1892 and died in Paris on 15 April 1938. It traces the important events of his life - becoming a poet in Peru, falling in love with Mirtho in Trujillo, writing 'Trilce' which would transform for ever the avant-garde in the Spanish-speaking world, fleeing to Paris in the summer of 1923 after being accused of burning down Carlos Santa María's house in Santiago de Chuco, falling in love with Georgette Philippart and then with communism, writing his 'Poemas humanos' ('Human Poems') and then, shortly before his death, writing his moving poems inspired by the Spanish Civil War, 'España, aparta de mí este cáliz' ('Spain, Take this Chalice from Me'). This book also provides an objective evaluation of Vallejo's poetry, fiction, theatre, political essays and journalism. Stephen M. Hart is Professor of Latin American Film, Literature and Culture, School of European Languages, Culture and Society, University College London.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-085-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
    (pp. viii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)

    The Peruvian poet César Vallejo (1892–1938) is an enigmatic figure. He has been at the centre of some of the fiercest literary debates in Latin America. To this day, scholars argue over the meaning of his work, his politics, his religion, even what the weather was like during his funeral. He was not particularly famous during his lifetime, but he became enormously famous after his death – to such an extent that there are many who argue he is Latin America’s most important poet. There are remarkably few photographs of him considering that he lived in the twentieth century. He...

  5. 1 Korriscosso’s Birth (1892–1917)
    (pp. 1-53)

    Santiago de Chuco, the capital of Santiago de Chuco Province, one of the twelve provinces of the La Libertad Department in Northern Peru, is a remote, picturesque town set high up in the Andes, at the foot of the San Cristóbal mountain, first discovered by Hernando Pizarro in 1533; it is renowned for its clear blue skies and its open-hearted locals (Figure 1). Permission was granted on 23 July 1610 to found a town in the region and two days later a thanksgiving Mass was held and the first foundation stone laid by a group of Santiago de Chuco’s founding...

  6. 2 The Fires of Love (1917–1923)
    (pp. 54-103)

    Vallejo set out for Lima, and arrived there on 30 December 1917; he stayed in a little hotel in calle Pescadería, a road leading off from the Plaza de Armas in the historic centre of Lima.¹ It was to be the beginning of a new chapter of his life. In emotional terms he was leaving behind a string of women, from his first love – his niece Otilia Vallejo Gamboa – to the sixteen-year-old who had inspired the poem ‘El poeta a su amada’, who had so shocked Trujillo’s bourgeoisie, ‘Mirtho’. And now he was ready for new intellectual pursuits. The world...

  7. 3 The City of Light (1923–1928)
    (pp. 104-156)

    When he learned that the court case against him had re-opened – and not only that it had been transferred to the Supreme Court in Lima – Vallejo decided to jump ship. He would leave Peru and never return. It is clear from the letter that he wrote to his brother Manuel Natividad on 16 June 1923 that the trip was provoked by the law trial and only secondarily by the temptation to visit the City of Light, Paris:

    Te pongo estas líneas para anunciarte que mañana me embarco rumbo a París. Voy por pocos meses, seguramente hasta enero o febrero y...

  8. 4 The Soul’s Practical Dream (1928–1932)
    (pp. 157-211)

    On 19 October 1928 Vallejo left for Moscow; his planned itinerary was Paris–Berlin–Moscow–Budapest–Berlin–Nice–Paris. One of the first articles Vallejo wrote about his impressions of the Soviet Union shows that he was gradually being drawn into a foreign world, and, indeed, enjoying the experience: ‘Se puede distinguir, en detalle, la topografía del terreno bajo un cielo claro y transparente. El tren avanza con lentitud y el viento de la estepa arroja hacia atrás y muy bajo el humo sonrosado de la locomotora’ (The topography of the land beneath a clear, transparent sky can be seen...

  9. 5 A Death Foretold (1932–1938)
    (pp. 212-268)

    Vallejo clearly took an enormous risk when he flouted the law and returned to Paris, despite the court order. But this time he was lucky. Vallejo was told that he would be allowed to remain in France if he desisted from political activity and reported to the Prefecture monthly. On 22 March 1932 Vallejo wrote to Gerardo Diego and told him that they had found a buyer for the apartment, and that they intended to sell up and return to Madrid the following month in order to pay back the loan he had generously extended them. He gave his work...

    (pp. 269-276)

    In May 1951 Georgette travelled on the steamboat Reina del Pacífico from Paris to Lima. She was met as she stepped off the boat in Callao by, inter alia, Raúl Porras Barrenchea and Sebastián Salazar Bondy.¹ She was taken on a tour of César Vallejo’s birthplace, Santiago de Chuco. Georgette had brought with her Vallejo’s manuscripts, along with some memorabilia; and she would live in Peru for the rest of her life. In 1957–1958, as a result of Raúl Porras Barrenchea’s intervention, Georgette was granted a modest monthly allowance of 2,700 soles from the Ministry of Education.² The understanding...

    (pp. 277-284)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 285-288)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 289-289)