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César Vallejo

César Vallejo

Perú (1892-1938)

Photograph by Juan Domingo Córdoba, 1929,

Undeniable innovator of the hispanic american literature, close to the european avant-garde and one of the pioneers of the leftist peruvian political movement, César Vallejo was born on march 16, 1892 in Santiago del Cucho, Perú, in a numerous mestizo family from the middle-low class. Throughout his life he wrote in several different genres like narrative, journalism, essay, drama and poetry, in which he is considered an essential author, being part of the artistic avant-garde of the second and third decades of the 20th century.

Vallejo started his school life in 1900 in his home town and later he moved to Huamachuco. In 1910 he enrolled at the Literature faculty at the Liberty's National University in Trujillo. There he got in touch with the city's artistic-bohemian circle known as Grupo Norte. He published some texts in journals like La Reforma and La Industria. In 1918 he established himself in Lima in order to obtain his PhD in Literature and Law. He begun to frequent the exclusive intellectual circles in which he met the members of the Colonida group.

In 1919 the poetry collection Los heraldos negros, his first work, gave him some recognition as a new, relevant generation's author in the peruvian literature of that time. On the other hand, Vallejo's interest in the sociopolitical situation and the study of marxism increased, mostly because of the influence of José Carlos Maríategui, another young writer and sociologist, who also attended regularly the same cultural environment –a future main figure of the latin american marxism–. The author contributed to the political magazine Nuestra Época and was arrested in Trujillo due to a non cleared up incident.

In a personal and political troubled period, the author returned to Lima and published his main work. Trilce was released in october, 1922 with a much less warmer reception than the one of his predecessor. Tired of lifestyle in Perú, in 1923 Vallejo traveled to Europe to settle down in Paris, from where he would never get back. During the near fifteen years the poet spent over there, he received the acknowledgement that was denied to him in his country, however, at the same time he lived in tough economic and health conditons. Overshadowing the poetic creation, the author directed his efforts towards the production of socialist propaganda. In 1929 he started to live with Georgette Phillipart Travers, who in 1934 would become his wife. The fervor to the leftist cause intensified with his trips to the USSR. In 1937 Vallejo strongly picked up the poetic activity and worked again as a literature professor. He was having a physical exhaustion which turned out evident when he was taken to the hospital on march 24, 1938 due to a unknown disease. He remained hospitalized until the 15th of april, when he died.

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