August 3, 2020

«I have rescued the goddess of Machado»

The book "Those blue days" (The Sphere of books), has been reaping great criticism since it went on sale several months ago. As a culmination of a successful promotion and a year, its author, the journalist and writer Nieves Herrero, will return to the Athenaeum of Madrid tomorrow at 20:00 hours. There, actors like Juanjo Artero, Dani Muriel and Candela Serrat, directed by Juan Carlos Pérez de la Fuente, will read poems of the protagonists of this impossible love story: that of Antonio Machado and Pilar de Valderrama.

–How did the idea of ​​writing this book come about?

– In life things always happen to me by chance. I was in another story that I wanted to write and suddenly Alicia Villadomat, who is Pilar Valderrama's granddaughter, appeared and said: "I would love you to write my grandmother's story." "But who is your grandmother?" And she replied: "Guiomar." I always thought that Guiomar de Machado's songs were an excuse to write and nothing more, that Guiomar had not existed. So when we met and he took his letters to me, my hands shook when I received them.

– Have you rebuilt Pilar through fiction?

– I have tried to imagine as little as possible because I know that there are many people who know Machado's life until exhaustion. That's why I wanted to walk with lead feet. She is more unknown, but she had many elements, documents and people who had treated her. To rebuild it, I relied on testimonies from family members and people who knew her. For example, the wallet that carried Machado's letters, which was then a girl and today is a very old lady, but perfectly lucid. Or the Najera, who did a lot of dances and social events in Palencia that she went to and that have been very useful for me to rebuild her parties, her day to day, when they were on vacation …

– He said that you believed that Guiomar did not exist and the reality is that we would never have known about the existence of Pilar Valderrama if she had not decided to tell it. She was a married woman with children. Why did he tell it?

– He told it because he felt the need to do so, to record through those letters of that relationship of trust that you only have when you really share things. Also that the protagonist of "Songs to Guiomar" was her. He needed to do it even though his Catholic formation was very heavy. And she did it when her husband had already died.

"A husband who cheated on her, right?"

– Thus the novel begins, with the total frustration of a deception prolonged in the time. For her it was as if suddenly a curtain was made in her life: here I have arrived, here one life ends and another begins. That is when you are going to think. And not Bilbao or Levante, but Segovia, where is the person he most admires. That person who, according to her, always writes the reflection of what she feels, as if they were two very similar souls. She, who also wanted to be a poet and was already with her second book, decides to go to the place where Antonio Machado is. María Calvo, her governess, who is a close friend of the Machado family and Antonio himself, gives her a letter of recommendation and says: "It's time to meet your poet." He does not find him at first because he was traveling constantly and as soon as he could he would come to Madrid to see his family. But the second, already in spring, they meet (or as Machado says, they meet again) because she was the woman he had always dreamed of despite the age difference and the different ideologies.

– Isn't it extraordinary that she could think about that time?

-She belonged to the Lyceum Club, a society to which many women of different ideologies belonged, who wanted the female vote, the female work, the female emancipation … They really couldn't take a step without the husband's approval. Pilar rebelled and argued a lot with him.

– That was the famous "Husband Club", right?

– They called it that because they were supposed to be the ones wearing the pants. It was a way to ridicule husbands. That's why her husband, Rafael Martínez Romarate, asked her to leave him. They were all criticized. However, they were all women of weight. Carmen Baroja, María Extremera… Very active women on an intellectual level.

-The case is that she leaves and meets Machado …

– And he is speechless because he is seeing his goddess, which is what he always called her. So what I have done has been to rescue the goddess of Machado.

– Surely the poet would have liked it, right?

– I think so, because in his day he wrote letters to literary critics, to people of the intellectual world of that time. Even to Unamuno. He did it to ask them to read Pilar's book and get to know his work. He worked hard to recognize her. Unfortunately, she did not have the recognition she deserved.

– Did the relationship they maintained include intimacy?

– According to Pilar there was no bed. He is seen to insist, but she maintains that if they break that covenant their love would be diluted. She believed that carnal things end with the purest love.

– Is that why you create that third world of yours?

– Yes, it is a world that is created at 12 at night when one thinks of the other. In the end, Machado says that he no longer knows what world he lives in and that for him the third one is the most real.

– Did the couple live "those blue days"?

–The other day when I signed books on the Rake of Nuevo Futuro, Queen Letizia passed by, who knows a lot about Machado, and told me: «That is not the original verse, the original is:“ These blue days and this childhood sun ” ». And I told him that I paraphrased him because Guiomar / Pilar believed that the blue days the poet wrote in that last verse were the days he spent with her.

Personal and non-transferable

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