Trilce / Edition 1

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Cesar Vallejo was born in Peru in 1892. In 1921 he spent three months in prison where he wrote some of the poems in Trilce. In 1923 he left for Paris, where he co-founded a cell of the Peruvian Communist Party. He traveled to Russia, and to Spain during the Spanish Civil War. He died in Paris in 1938, in absolute poverty, devastated by the fall of the Spanish Republic.

Trilce, published the same year as Eliot's Waste Land and also masterpiece of early modernism, is a ground-breaking work that has had an indelible effect on all subsequent poetry in its language. It contains 77 poems considered to be Vallejo's most complex and radical work.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Blake's Milton, Pope's Homer: for the poet the possessive is neither descriptive nor evaluative, but copulative, possessive. Clayton Eshleman earns his apostrophe." —Voice Literary Supplement

"[Eshleman's] versions are hard-earned and thoroughly tested . . . Struggling to read [Vallejo] in both Spanish and English is an invitation to learn [his] strange and disturbingly intimate idiolect. Clayton Eshleman's translation is an excellent point of departure."—Times Literary Supplement

"When Vallejo disarticulates Spanish he does so not out of complacency with his own strangeness, but because he has certain moral and aesthetic truths to express and must utter them in an idion of his own making . . . Vallejo's deepest political impact lies here, in his re-creation of linguistic, and therefore social, order . . . Trilce abounds in neologisms, and Eshleman ushers a number of funky new verbs into English."—The New Republic

"This is a poet's translation: rhythmical, with words often chosen for their sounds as well as their meanings . . . [It] also presents 'a newly established Spanish text,' and is destined to become a classic."—Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Vallejo's poetry combines excruciatingly personal emotions with imagery that at first appears facetious but turns out to be wordplay with a larger purpose. ``Hot bakery of my former biscuits, / pure egg yolk childlike innumerable, mother,'' begins one of many poems that mourn his mother's death; but it is himself he ends up lamenting, since ``everyone keeps charging us / the rent for the world where you left us / and the value of this everlasting bread.'' The 77 poems reflect upon the poet's dual Spanish and Peruvian Indian heritage in a dialect that mocks Spanish grammar with Incan idioms, plays on the similarities between words and tosses in medical terms (Vallejo attended medical school) to enhance the surreal effect. Seiferle's insightful introduction and footnotes serve as necessary maps to the book's political context--Vallejo's assertion of the Incan side of his identity--and intellectual strengths. The sensitive translation of an extremely difficult text in this bilingual edition commemorates the centennial of Vallejo's birth and the 70th anniversary of the book's original publication; ironically, it also coincides with the 500th anniversary of Columbus's discovery of America. (June)
Library Journal
Vallejo was born 100 years ago in a small mining town in north central Peru. Both his grandfathers were Spanish priests. His poetry has come to be highly regarded, and this last volume to be translated into English is considered his most difficult. In fact, when it came out in 1922, the critics were so hostile that soon afterward Vallejo left Peru permanently for Paris. Neither as romantic nor as bohemian as he had been in much of his poetry, Vallejo was here straining Spanish syntax, resorting to technical jargon and distorting typography, hyphenation, and punctuation to convey the harshness of a wide range of unsatisfied or unsatisfying thoughts touching on sexuality, loneliness, and death: ``Death on its knees pours forth/ its white blood that is not blood.'' Vallejo has been translated by the likes of James Wright, Thomas Merton, and Robert Bly, so Seiferle's renderings have a lot to live up to. Her edition would have been improved by a glossary of Vallejo's many ambiguous terms; in fact, there are an alarming number of lexical discrepancies. Appropriate for strong poetry and Latin American collections.-- Jack Shreve, Allegany Community Coll., Cumberland, Md.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780819564214
  • Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2000
  • Series: Wesleyan Poetry Series
  • Edition description: Trans. from the Spanish
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

CLAYTON ESHLEMAN is one of America's most distinguished poets, translators, and editors. His 1978 co-translation of Vallejo's Complete Posthumous Poetry received the National Book Award.

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Table of Contents

Note on the Spanish Text
Notes to the Translation
Afterword: Vallejo Succulent Snack of Unity
Cesar Vallejo: A chronology
A Trilce Bibliography
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2003

    Spanish Poetry taken to the MAX!

    Cesar Vallejo is an extraordinary poet that writes about what he feels. This is his best and most complex work ever and in all Spanish Literature. The poems that bear numbers for titles leave the reader astonished by the end and the more you read each poem and try to connect or see repeating themes, the more complex his work gets. If you're really into poetry, Vallejo is one of the best poets who hasn't been expressed too well in the American Culture due to translations of his work that's a very hard task to accomplish for some meaning of the poem is lost through the translations. PERUVIAN PRIDE BABY!!!!!!!

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