Dossier: Victoria de Stefano
Works by and about Victoria de Stefano in LALT No. 5:
"The Outside which Forces its Way In, or the Writing of Victoria de Stefano" by Arturo Gutiérrez Plaza
More than half a century ago, in 1962, the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa was awarded the prestigious Seix Barral prize, in Barcelona, Spain, for his novel The Time of the Hero. This event has been agreed upon as the start of the so-called "Boom" of Latin American literature, more out of the need to identify a point of origin in cultural processes than for being a verifiable point of beginning. Many think that from this moment on the literature from this side of the planet reached universal status for the first time, becoming visible and accessible to readers around the world and in multiple languages.
Victoria de Stefano: "I always leaned more towards authenticity": A Conversation with Carmen de Eusebio
I maintain very vividly the memory of the first trip a little more than a year after the war ended, passing from Rome, where I was living with my parents and my four siblings, to Naples, where my grandmother, my great grandmother and my aunt resided facing Mt. Vesuvius with its impressing smoking crater, to take the American Navy warship, precariously equipped for passengers, that would carry us to New York. After a week spent in New York, we flew to the airport of Maiquetía, our final destination, with a layover in Miami.
When I finished La noche [The night], I was waiting for them to edit it, because it’s hard to start another project before they edit your book. Then I wrote the Diarios 1988-1989. A much longer diary, but one from which I selected ninety-five pages. So, for me, the work of this diary was the work of showing myself to myself, of opening up (there we have psychoanalysis and the therapist’s couch), but also my need to take on (although La noche includes a lot of personal experience), to take on a more intimate and personal way of writing, with fewer models (although literary models are always there). That is, with fewer imposed models, such that the choice of literary models is a choice of fondness, of feeling, of affinity.
July 8: In the evening I have dinner at P’s house. It’s a longstanding invitation. P. has been a widower for around three years: the period that, according to the Chinese, bereavement should last. Without the least warning, his wife had been left paralyzed by an embolism. She died a week later without it ever having occurred to P. that someone eighteen years his junior might precede him along that path. Until the mechanism of illness was set in motion, he had never considered the eventuality that she might die first. P. finds it difficult to adapt to his constantly unappeased nostalgia for the intimacy in which he lived with his deceased wife, but copes with it better, and with more humility than any of us would have suspected, given his sensitive and rather unpractical nature.
Convinced that what is relevant hides within generalities, the twentieth-century author would have begun with some organic version of the corner. Two streets drawing a T: the narrow Avenida Principal that intersects with another avenue, larger in scale but without any attribute besides its name. This wide avenue has a literary identity; it’s called Rómulo Gallegos. We’re talking about Caracas. An elegant space of urbanization with a native name: Sebucán. The Avenida Principal of Sebucán ends at Rómulo Gallegos, which once connected the coffee and cacao plantations toward the east to the urban swell of the city.
Diarios 1988-1989: La insubordinación de los márgenes by Victoria de Stefano, reviewed by Claudia Cavallín
The writer Victoria de Stefano, born in Rimini, Italy, began her lived experience in Venezuela when she was a small child. Each successive experience there transformed her, through thought, until she arrived at the disturbing activity so common to university philosophy professors: the constant questioning of reality and the configuration or de-configuration of its margins. Based on her experience, and through her unyielding passage between worlds—the present and the past, the maternal and the academic, the successful and the disastrous—her writing became the narrative of a personal experience, published over the course of years, months, and days.