Hart on Vallejo

To test my new copy of Microsoft Word, I took a few notes on a fascinating article I wish to remember. I must say it is a wonderful, guilty pleasure to have MSW again … I know I should prefer Open Office but I just don’t, particularly because it is so complicated to make accent marks in it unless you have a separate numbers pad and just punch in the ASCII codes (reason enough to acquire a desktop computer). Here is what I wrote as MSW started up: Vamos a ver si funciona este programa. Si funciona me encantará. Qué maravilla – está funcionando. Nunca estuve tan feliz. Es adorable.

You would be absolutely amazed, however, to see how code heavy MSW is. Shocking. And now, on to the article.

HART, Stephen. “Vallejo y sus espejismos.” Romance Quarterly 49:2 (Spring 2002): 111-118.

This is an article on Vallejo, the literary phenomenon. An espejismo is an optical illusion caused by the reflection of light as it crosses air layers of different densities. Vallejo, the literary phenomenon, is full of these.

It is worth quoting in full Hart’s entire first paragraph. He is interested in looking at the espejismos of Vallejo life and death, those that traverse his work, and his self-projection as a mystery, an enigma, an espejismo.

There are many known espejismos: the uncertainty about Vallejo’s date of birth (note: he could have hidden/changed it to hide his identity in Europe), the mystery of his cause of death, the question of whether he was really innocent, or not, of arson and murder.

Note also Georgette as an unreliable narrator. Because she did not know everything about Vallejo’s life but felt she should, she would say partially invented things, and then invent more when new facts came to light to fit the new facts into her original narrative. [This is just like my colleagues in French, it is amazing.]

Georgette invented titles including Contra el secreto profesional and also El arte y la revolución.

Vallejo presents himself as an espejismo when in his poems, he refers to himself by name. He creates an abyss between the speaking subject and Vallejo the author (how different is this from Borges y yo, though?). There is the I who speaks and the I who feels.

In “Piedra negra sobre una piedra blanca” note that the speaker seems to be in two places at one time, or at two times in one place (present and past, “le pegaban todos sin que él le haga nada”). When he wrote these words he was alive, but he wrote as though dead. So he sees himself as a mysterious being, a ghost, an espejismo.

There is much more in this article and there is good bibliography.


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