Mexican journalist and author Elena Poniatowska says she does more than “fall in love” with the characters from her novels, some of whom, like the protagonist of her latest work, the late model and writer Guadalupe Marin, completely “consume” her.
“They consume me. They consume my life. They consume my hours … because time goes by and I keep writing about them,” Poniatowska told EFE in an interview.
Poniatowska said she felt she owed a novel to her friend Lupe Marin (1895-1983), who was the second wife of muralist Diego Rivera and later married poet and critic Jorge Cuesta, because little was known or said about her.
The life of Marin, who was also a subject of portrait paintings by artists such as Juan Soriano and Rivera himself, inspired Poniatowska’s “Dos veces unica” (Twice Only), a novel that reaffirms her place in 20th-century Mexican history.
The Parisian-born Poniatowska describes Marin as a woman with “a very strong Guadalajara essence” who was always happy on her visits to France, where she captured all the attention when she walked “like a panther” down the street with her imposing height and green eyes.
Like previous works such as “Tinisima” and “Leonora,” a historical novel about surrealist painter Leonora Carrington, this latest book once again places a woman at the center of the narration.
“Women are the great forgotten element of history. They’re always marginalized” or shown as “crazy” and not done justice, the 84-year-old Poniatowska said, lamenting that “since they sweep, since they’re brooms, they’re eventually swept away from everything that happens.”
The character who is currently consuming the author’s time is Stanislaw August Poniatowski, the last king of Poland, an 18th-century paternal ancestor of the writer and the figure to whom she wants to devote her next novel.
“I began reading about him and found him to be very like-minded. I adored him because he was very sensitive. He had depressions. He was very love-struck,” the 2013 Cervantes Prize recipient said.