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Elena Poniatowska summons all the family demons

The Mexican writer Elena Poniatowska, who was awarded the Cervantes Prize in 1932 for her work, has signed her most personal and ambitious book at 90 years of age.

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Elena Poniatowska summons all the family demons

The Mexican writer Elena Poniatowska, who was awarded the Cervantes Prize in 1932 for her work, has signed her most personal and ambitious book at 90 years of age. She summons up all her familiar demons in the almost 900 pages of "The Polish Lover" (Seix Barral). She reminisces about the Poniatowskis' history, the Polish aristocratic saga, and then combines it with her own life with its joys and sorrows. She cites as an example the rape she experienced at 22 years old, which would lead to her first child. Juan Jose Arreola was a prominent writer and intellectual. He died in 2001. She refers to him only as "the teacher". She fills "a gap" in the biography of Juan Jose Arreola's life by recounting the incident, which was kept quiet for many years.

It tells of Stanislaus II Poniatowski's rise and fall, his most egregious ancestor. It dates back to 1742, when Stanislaus is little and listens to his family's exploits. He doesn't know what fate has in store: a passionate love affair with Catherine the Great, the arrival on the throne, and plans to destroy her kingdom.

Elena, nine years later and two centuries later, flees the horrors of war in Europe. She lives a life of writing. It is marked by friendships with politicians and guerrillas as well as love and tragic losses. From her Mexico City home, the author explains that they are two parallel lives connected by love and its misfortunes and by appreciation of literature.

"I had always had the childish desire to tell the truth," justifies her late need to relate her rape. I couldn't leave that hole that was so dark in my life. My son read it and agreed with me. Poniatowska points out that he was the only one with whom he felt a moral obligation. He also said it was liberating for his family to finally end 64 years of silence. "I was raised religiously and I used to swear before a'scout flag' that I would always tell the truth. An education like this makes you feel more guilty and harasses your mind. She explains that she is very guilty and has a greater tendency than others to talk ill about myself.

Mane was born to her in Rome in a nunnery. "For three months, no one spoke to my. She was like a plague girl. She ironizes that even my aunt, who was there with me, thought about adopting me.

He believes in the lessons from the past and that today's leaders could learn a lot from Poniatowski, his noble ancestor who was an enlightened man who had to pay dearly for his love affairs of Catherine of Russia. The writer smiles with a mischievous grin. "If you fall for someone, you stay 'cuchiplanchado,' as we say here. Russia was able to erase Poland from the map in 18th century. The lover who had been cheated had to then fight back.

It focuses on the history of Poland over the past two centuries. This is a story about the fate of Ukraine and its ill-fated neighbor Russia. The Russians are expansionists. They eat and take over the land and lives of their neighbours. He laments that they are everywhere imposing their will. "Putin has never given even the smallest example of being generous or intelligent. He is a dictator and his actions reflect that.

Poniatowska doesn't share the Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's desire to have Spain apologize for its abuses during the conquest. "So many years have passed, it seems absurd that you should ask for forgiveness. Lopez Obrador's request is not something I agree with. She assures that it is anachronistic

Poniatowska's work mirrors the Mexico of the past century. But what he sees now with drug trafficking and unleashed violence as well as the murders of journalists, femicides and rampant poverty, stings. It is a mirror that hurts us a lot. Feminism and the mistreatment of women is a drama to me. She denounces the abuse of peasant women who housework for very little or no wages. I met a girl who was forced to sleep on the ground next to the lady. She was her doormat, and she would stomp on her when she got up she claims, this is a fighter for equality. She claims that "you always have to denounce mistreatment and abuse by the powerful."

"La Poni", as she is known, reaches 90 years old with her head still in place, in good health, and without losing her will to fight. The feisty writer says, "I work like an insect every day." She continues to meet with readers of La Jornada on Sundays and misses the opportunity for interviews. They are my best friends. It's a pleasure to go to the other side and ask questions. I got bored when I tried to write editorials or get political opinions out of my chest. It was not how I wanted to be. Listening is my greatest virtue. She concludes, "I listen so much that it's hard to hear my voice anymore."

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