Fear in Writing: Eva Peron

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Friday, March 11, 2011

Eva Peron

Why is she so interesting?  Why does her name strike a fascination that defies her simple appearance and benevolent smile?

Perhaps it is because that smile wasn't what it seemed.  And the era in which she reigned--for reign she did--is one of fear and uncertainty, not just in Argentina, but around the world.  It is the time of Nazi Germany and Peronist Argentina.  It is a time of military rule and the height of dictator furor.

Patti LuPone as Evita, 1979
But why am I so interested?  I remember my first encounter with Evita.  It was through the words of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.  "Don't cry for me, Argentina!"  Patti Lupone sang.  And my parents explained to me who this Evita was and why she asked a whole country not to cry, though she really meant the opposite.  At the age of 10 I knew words like "whore" and "bitch" and I knew that someone could be both but still magnetic and effervescent.

In the fifth grade, Evita became the topic of my first school paper.  I carefully read and wrote a biographical essay on the former First Lady of Argentina, replete with a profile-with-chignon rendering that my teacher remarked "wasn't called for in the instructions for this paper."  (Funny how we remember the slights in life, isn't it?  Perhaps this was how Evita survived--chewing on the slights until they nourished her.)

I am not Argentinean.  I have no ties with the Peronists or even with the Broadway musical.  But somehow this bottle-blonde Queen enticed me.  She still does.  Is it the mythical power that overwhelms the historical characters in Tomás Eloy Martínez's Santa Evita?  

No.  It's the mystery.  It is!  The mysteries of this life are more fascinating than the ones we make up.  Hence the success of the historical novel and the nonfiction writings of Capote and Martínez.  Mystery is why I write this blog.  Mystery is why I scour bookshelves and online libraries.  Mystery is why I watch Criminal Minds and CSI and even White Collar.  Mystery is why I read art books and play Legos with my children--yes, it's present even there.  Mystery is the not knowing, the wondering, the questions that fill our minds and pour out through our fingertips.

Do you have an Eva Peron?  Is there an historical figure who fascinates you?  Is there a mystery that enthralls?

Funnily, I hadn't thought about Evita in years.  I hadn't listened to


  1. Albert Speer. I find it amazing that such an ordinary man could have been so tempted by power that he supported such evil.
    Then he switched again and spent the last part of his life trying to make amends

  2. I think that is why a lot of people are so enthralled with mysterious celebrity deaths. Natalie Wood and stories like that have great pull on our psyche.
    Edge of Your Seat Romance

  3. Al- I hadn't read much about Speer till you mentioned him. What a confusing life he lead, but fascinating!

    Raquel- Very true. And Natalie Wood is a great example! Think of all the conspiracy people tried to associate with Anna Nicole Smith (not much more than a celebrity in its most base definition). We LOVE the idea that something isn't what it seems.

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  5. Yes! Anne Boylen. I'm mad for her and for her daughter, Elizabeth I. Love them, don't care what Boylen was called (same things as Evita actually) - obsessed with her. Why? No idea.
    Thanks for coming by - yes, I'm entering blogging life again. I never stopped...just slowed down some.

  6. I love these mysteries of personality! I also enjoy historical mystery--what happened to Amelia Earhart's plane, the mystery of Roanoke Island, etc.

  7. Mystery is the spice of life. My first book, Follow the Cowherd Boy, was based on the true life story of a very mysterious historical figure called Mirabai. She's a legend in India and all my life I've been fascinated by the stories of her and the questions both answered and unanswered.


  8. Jan- Such an interesting time and place in history, isn't it?

    Elizabeth- Life is amazing and mysterious...As much or more than fiction!

    Jai- Sounds like someone I want to know more about! Now your book is on my TBR list...

  9. This is by far the best recording of this amazing musical. It has the best orcestrations, real lush, it just reaches down and touches your soul.