The Wax Child (La niña de cera )
translated by Prof. Charles Philip Thomas
La niña de cera (The Wax Child) by Maritza Núñez from Peru is a monologue in two acts about the life of the Nobel prize-winning poet from Chile, Gabriela Mistral. The title comes from a poem included in a collection of her children's poems entitled Ternura (Tenderness). The play takes place “the afternoon of the 29th of December, a few days before her death.” This biographical monologue is interspersed with lines from Gabriela Mistral's poetry, as well as some of her complete poems as the situation warrants. There are “dialogues” between Gabriela Mistral and two of the most important and influential people in her life; her mother and Romelio Ureta. Her father abandoned the family when she was three years old. When she was seventeen, and helping to support her mother and sister as a teacher's aide, she apparently had an affair with a railroad worker, Romelio Ureta. Details are unclear, but he was involved with “misappropriation of funds” and committed suicide when he was 19. This profoundly affected Gabriela Mistral, and Maritza Núñez brings up the possibility of unrequited love and a desperate Gabriela Mistral.
Other aspects of Mistral's life that are prominent in this powerful work by Maritza Núñez, include the relationship with her “nephew” Juan Miguel (Yin Yin) whose suicide in 1943 remains an enigma. Recently, Doris Dana, longtime secretary for Gabriela Mistral broke her silence and asserted that Yin Yin was Gabriela Mistral's son with Manuel Magallanes and not her nephew. Maritza Núñez deals with this question as well as other aspects of Mistral's life, including her sexual orientation. Many feminist scholars have asserted that Mistral's lesbianism was an open secret, while others insist that there is not enough evidence to reach that conclusion. Many of these uncertainties about Mistral's life are touched upon in Maritza Núñez's incredibly engrossing monologue.
Works in Translation by
Prof. Charles Philip Thomas
Solitary Tango (Tango solitario)