For that Cecilia paper

Here we have an important post by me, too cool to be forgotten.

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Stephen Hart

Vallejo’s “Other”: Versions of Otherness in the Work of César Vallejo

The Modern Language Review

Vol. 93, No. 3 (Jul., 1998), pp. 710-723

César Vallejo (1892-1938) is, without doubt, one of the most enigmatic figures of Contemporary Spanish-American literature; there are a number of unsolved mysteries with regard to his work and life that this essay sets out to review. Several themes have been proposed as central to Vallejo’s work (“pain,” “religiosity,” “the absurd,” and “politics”), but I suggest that these be seen as subplots in the narrative of a life and work shot through with “Otherness.” Some previous studies have touched on the issue of the double, but to date there has been no substantive treatment of this issue as a methodological tool to assess Vallejo’s work. The essay focuses in particular on four aspects of this Otherness: the Otherness of Vallejo the man, Vallejo as the critic’s Other, the Self as Other in his poetry, and Vallejo as cultural Other.

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Some titles

There is Jerome’s new book but the lowest price on it is $100. And there are numerous other desirable books. From Routledge I am interested in some textbooks, the latest Latin America since Independence, the revised Latin American History Goes to the Movies, the new History of Indigenous America.

I put in a library request for Jerome’s book, which will surely not be fulfilled. The others I can ask for desk copies for, as they are actually textbooks. We push on but books are hard to get, and there are so many I cannot see.

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How to write a book

Here is a good set of instructions.

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Additional books on Vallejo

Everyone’s Vallejo dissertation now appears to have been influenced by mine, although they are surely not. Nonetheless work on Vallejo has improved massively since I retired from that field, which I did partly because I was not sure then how to contend with such bad work from such authoritative, respected and powerful people.

Carlos Javier Morales’ book, which says Vallejo is postmodern, is of some interest although I would say the vanguardia is postmodern, anyway. I would read this with interest if I did not feel I needed more urgently to read people like González Vigil, whom I have been neglecting as well. Another interesting book I had not seen is by Antonio González Montes and it is on Escalas melografiadas (hacia la modernización narrativa, UNMSM, Lima, 2002). And Contra el secreto profesional was translated to English in 2002, so Vallejo studies are truly growing.

Stephen Hart’s biography is fascinating and I wish I could afford to buy it. (I also note that I am able to read now without going into dissociative states or panic or disabling sadness, and this is very interesting.)

I have also been able to see, although not study the autógrafos olvidados, and Fló’s preface and introduction to these are worth reading. I would like to buy this book as well.

This book by Rowe and Gutiérrez has value but does not seem so different from earlier work by Rowe. Still, it is something I would like to have available to consult.

I have Julio Ortega’s 1986 book, La teoría poética de César Vallejo, somewhere but I cannot find it. I remember it seeming like a leap forward in Vallejo criticism when it came out, but now it seems more like the last gasp of the old way of reading.

What Ortega has to say about raza y palabra on 14-20 has been contested by people like Tace Hedrick. Ortega seems to think Vallejo thinks he can elaborate his yo poético as a kind of genio de la raza (or Dios) [GOSH I wonder whether this is why Ortega hated my work so]. Vallejo wants to connect raza and palabra in a monumental way, but in fact looks at raza nostalgically and represents himself as a modern person alienated from it … and HN is a book that documents the exhaustion of modernismo. This is the kind of lectura it is of interest to superar and that I think has been superado.

The most substantive of the books I have looked at today is Sobrevilla’s, from 1994. Much of what is in this book is old, but worthwhile.

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Desirable books

Ulises criollo in the Archivos edition is 50% off at Schoenhof’s now.

I would also like a copy of Cerna-Bazán’s Sujeto a cambio, second edition 2004, although it may be downloadable as a .pdf somewhere.

From it, for now, 340-343: raza in HN means la comunidad indígena, el campesinado, AND la vida provinciana. There are fragments and sombras of the “raza” here, that the speaker aims to dynamize: they are undertaking practical activity in the present (notice that Tace says something similar). In T the references to “la raza” not explicit but the mundo aldeano does appear and gives consistency and solidity to the speaker. During the same years in which T is composed, the mundo aldeano and the subject’s conflictive relationship with it is represented explicitly in Escalas and Fabla salvaje. The activity of the aldeano world, and verbal activity in the poems, brings these “old” things into the present and pulls them out of stasis. Word, movement, life, de-reification.

347-351: Mariátegui called V the poet of a raza and CV proposes this in Nostalgias Imperiales I. But the decentering process had already started in HN and continues in T;
important: raza here is not monumental raza but the historical activity of the masas indígeno-campesinas. “Lábrase la raza” — it is a process of construction, not nostalgia for a monument. It is the “constante elaboración” that Mariátegui saw. Raza and palabra, producción and desgaste.

It is worth reviewing these pages, as there is more in them than my notes here reflect.

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More Cecilia, and some thoughts on research

These are notes from the back of a napkin.

+ The celebration of cultural mestizaje is MARKETABLE.

+ Cecilia wants to be white, but is valued because she is mixed and female, and is FEARED because of being a mixed woman who wats to be white.

+ exotic mulatas …

+ David Lisenby. “Frustrated Mulatta Aspirations: Reincarnations of Cecilia Valdés in Post-Soviet Cuba.” Afro-Hispanic Review 31.1(2012): 87-104.

I recommended to myself to look at everything on this in LALR and Afro-Hispanic Review. And I decided Luso-Brazilian Review and Afro-Hispanic Review were the places to try to put my work.

It was on a day I dropped in at the library to look around, as one used to do constantly in the olden days, or as I did, when there was a library and research was a habit.

I have noticed something about academic advice: it is all about time management, on the theory one is not used to working on a schedule, and about coaxing oneself to write, on the theory that one does not like this.

For me, the trick is actually to recover research time. I used to have research ongoing constantly, but became irregular with it. In fact every writing problem I have ever had, was actually a research problem.

Writing comes from research and always follows naturally if you are doing research, I always found. Everything unlocks research time … and then reflection upon research time … and then writing.


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