Historical Figures

Cesar Vallejo

Cesar Vallejo Mendoza , was born in Santiago de Chuco, department of La Libertad, in the northern highlands of Peru, on March 16, 1892. He was the youngest of a family of eleven brothers, with ancestors linked to the priesthood. His parents were Francisco de Paula Vallejo Benites and María de los Santos Mendoza. He studied high school at the San Nicolás de Huamachuco school (1905-1908) and, faced with the impossibility of entering university due to his precarious economy, he worked as an assistant cashier at the “Roma” sugar plantation. In 1913 he moved to Trujillo to study medicine, but he abandoned said project and he began a career in Literature at the National University of Trujillo , graduating as a bachelor in 1915, with his thesis Romanticism in Castilian poetry . At the same time he published his first verses in the magazine Cultura infantil. He befriended the literary group "La bohemia de Trujillo", led by Antenor Orrego and Victor Raúl Haya de la Torre. He then published the first versions of some poems that he would later compose The Black Heralds in the newspapers La Industria and La Reforma de Trujillo (1917). That year he taught elementary school at the San Juan de Trujillo National School, where he had Ciro Alegría as a student.

Transfer to Lima by Cesar Vallejo

In 1918 Cesar Vallejo moved to Lima, as a result of a disappointment in love, publishing The black heralds , with evident influence of modernism, mainly Darío, Herrera and Reissig and Chocano; revealing, however, original features such as greater simplicity, colloquiality and a religious vision of existence. The work had a cold reception from specialized critics, except for the comments of Luis Alberto Sánchez and Antenor Orrego. In Lima he cultivated the friendship of Manuel González Prada and José María Eguren, renowned poets of previous generations. Likewise, young writers were linked -several of them from the provinces- grouped around the Colónida and Amauta magazines, including Abraham Valdelomar and José Carlos Mariátegui, who wrote an important study on the poetry of Cesar Vallejo, incorporated into his book 7 interpretation essays of the peruvian reality .

Cesar Vallejo dedicated himself to teaching at the Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe school and, while visiting his hometown, he was involved in some violent incidents, being arrested along with one of his brothers “for arson, assault, frustrated homicide, robbery and stunned…”. Clarified the injustice of his arrest and imprisonment for about four months, the poet found enough time to study Philosophy and Letters at the University of San Marcos. In 1921 he won the literary contest organized by the Cultural Society “Entre Nous”, with the story entitled “Beyond life and death”. The award allowed her to edit his second book of poems, Trilce (1922), worked in the prison workshops where he was imprisoned. The title, apparently, conjugates the words "triple" and "sweet". In this work, Cesar Vallejo definitively canceled the legacy of modernism, creating an original language, with formal experiments related to creationism and expressionism. Trilce it represents a milestone in Spanish-language poetry, due to the fusion of native and cosmopolitan cultural elements; has been compared by critics to The Waste Land . Residence on Earth and other capital texts.

Stay in Europe

In 1923 he published two narrative works: Melographed Scales and Wild fable and that same year he left Peru bound for Paris, attracted by French culture; there he will live the bohemia of the foreigner. He was dazzled by the Louvre and frequented the cafes of Montparnasse and the Latin Quarter. He would never return to his homeland. He met Picasso, who portrayed him in a famous sketch. Out of work, overwhelmed by various ailments and the death of his father, he wrote several so-called "prose poems" that would later appear in Human Poems . Around 1924, he alternated with the intellectuals of the time and met Huidobro, Desnos, Tzara and Marcel Aymé. He got a job as a correspondent in the company of the Great Ibero-American Newspapers (1925). He dedicated himself to literary creation and, in parallel, to the journalistic profession, which made him a prolific columnist . He collaborated with the magazine Mundial de Lima and traveled for the first time to Spain (1925). He founded, in 1926, with the Spanish poet Juan Larrea, the magazine Favorable Paris Poems and, in 1927, he met his future wife, Georgette Philippart. Increasingly influenced by Marxism, Cesar Vallejo visited the Soviet Union in 1928 and returned a year later, in the company of Georgette, already married. The couple toured Berlin, Leningrad, Moscow, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Venice, Florence, Rome, Genoa and Nice. In 1930 the poet was expelled from France for his political activities, settling in Madrid, where he published the second edition of Trilce , with a prologue by José Bergamín and a poem by Gerardo Diego. Cesar Vallejo joined the Communist Party of Spain and published his novel El tungsteno (1931) , tributary of socialist realism. He visited the Soviet Union for the third and last time, a trip that would be the origin of his book Russia in 1931. Reflections at the foot of the Kremlin. He collaborated, from 1933, in Germinal, in Paris, with articles on the social situation in Peru and with criticism of the surrealists, in favor of a committed and realistic art. Due to the economic precariousness of the couple, Georgette sold her apartment. In 1936 the couple settled permanently in the Hotel Du Maine.
At the outbreak of civil war in Spain, Cesar Vallejo devoted himself to Republican support. In December 1936 he traveled to Madrid and Barcelona, ​​and took part in the congress of anti-fascist writers in Valencia (1937), attended by Pablo Neruda, André Malraux and Octavio Paz, among other personalities. Back in Paris, he founded the Ibero-American Committee for the Defense of the Republic and participated in the organization of Our Spain, spokesman for the aforementioned committee, together with Pablo Neruda. Cesar Vallejo, who for ten years had abandoned poetry, venturing into other genres such as chronicles and theater, dedicated himself to writing feverishly, giving the press Spain, take this cup away from me . Some of his poems were published in the magazine El mono azul , directed by the poet Rafael Alberti.

Death of Cesar Vallejo and posthumous works

On April 15, 1938, after a painful agony in the Aragó clinic, he died in Paris , just as he announced in his poem “Black stone on a white stone”. It should be noted that two notable Peruvian intellectuals, Raúl Porras Barrenechea and Francisco García Calderón, paid for the burial costs, and the poet Louis Aragón gave his funeral eulogy. His remains were buried in Montrouge Cemetery, where they still lie.
A year later, under the care of Raúl Porras and Jean Cassou, Human Poems was published in Paris. . In Mexico, Juan Larrea independently published the book Spain, take this cup away from me (1940). Other works and compilations by Cesar Vallejo:Paco Yunque (story, 1931); Moscow vs. Moscow (theater, 1930); Lock out (theater, 1931); Full theater (Lima, 1979); Art and revolution (essay, 1973); Complete poetic work (Lima, Francisco Moncloa Publishers, 1968); Complete poetic work (Caracas, Ayacucho Library, 1979); From Europe. Chronicles (Lima, 1987); Complete poetry (Lima, Banco de Crédito, "Clásicos del Perú" collection, 1991).

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