"Teresa Wilms Montt, de tumba en tumba"
by Alejandra Costamagna
"Teresa Wilms Montt, de tumba en tumba" ["Teresa Wilms Montt, from Tomb to Tomb"] is a gloomy, doom-perfumed biographical sketch of the Chilean poétesse maudite (1893-1921, above) who wowed then mostly all-male literary salons in Buenos Aires, Madrid and Paris before ending her life in the company of a flask full of Veronal. While she walked the earth, she espoused sepulchral raisons d'être such as the following--"Soñar, sin parar, encerrada entre las paredes de mármol, lisas y limpias, de una tumba" ["Endlessly dreaming, shut inside the marble walls, clean and smooth, of a tomb"] (46)--and spent time among the gravestones in Buenos Aires' stately Recoleta Cementery penning diary entry-like notes to the rejected lover who had slit his wrists in front of her: "De la vida a tu tumba, de tu tumba a la vida, ése es mi destino" ["From life to your tomb, from your tomb to life, that is my fate"] (60). Although, as with fellow suicide Gérard de Nerval's pages, it may be tough to suss out where the boundaries between the autobiographical and the artistic dissolve in Wilms Montt's slender body of work, essayist Alejandra Costamagna makes me want to learn more--much more actually--with the literarily come-hither comment that "la escritura de Teresa Wilms Montt es el coro de su leyenda" ["Teresa Wilms Montt's writing is the chorus to her legend"] (49). In other words, more Wilms Montt in my future.
"Teresa Wilms Montt, de tumba en tumba" is the second of seventeen sketches to appear in the Leila Guerriero-curated Los malditos (Santiago: Ediciones Universidad Diego Portales, 2011, 45-64). Readers of Spanish can enjoy what seems to be a complete version of Costamagna's essay here.