Thank God for the Internet because I found out that Flora Tristan was born on April 7, 1803 in Paris, France. Her full name was Flore Celestine Therese Henriette Tristan Moscoso. She died on November 14, 1844 in Bordeaux, France. As I delved into the life of this interesting woman who was so ahead of her time, I found a novel written by a Peruvian author, Mario Vargas Llosa. Mr. Llosa received the Nobel Prize in literature in 2010. He wrote The Way to Paradise a novel about Flora Tristan and her grandson, Paul Gauguin.
Descriptions of how Flora lived in poverty, of how she set up meetings with workers who most of the time did not want to hear what she was saying, of rude men, of how the down-trodden lived, of the many hours workers were forced to work, and the attitude of how men thought about women are clearly explained by Mr. Llosa. Flora did not let anything get her down and continued plugging away at trying to get the well-to-do to see how society could be helped if working conditions were better. In The Way to Paradise, Mr. Llosa devotes a chapter to Tristan and then the following chapter to Gauguin. Flora did not know her grandson because she died before he was born and yet, as I read chapter after chapter it seemed as if both of them were dissatisfied with their life and wanted to change the world they lived in!
|Mujeres de Tahiti, 1891|
Tristan and her fight to change society for the better lets the reader see what a strong woman she was and how she did not let disappointments knock her down. She was not afraid to speak her mind during a time when women stayed in the background and obeyed a male way of thinking. She had been married to a cruel man and thought marriage was men's idea of keeping a woman subjugated by forcing her into submission. She believed that children kept women tied down. She argued with religious leaders, political figures and leaders. The lives of both grandmother and grandson are similar. They left their spouses and children to travel. "Both preferred independence of travel to a life of family and stability," pretty much sums up how they thought. She traveled by herself in a time when women did not. Both lived in Peru for a time and Gauguin preferred speaking Spanish to French.
Reading the book and looking at Gauguin's art, left me with a feeling of wanting to travel to the places where Gauguin had lived. I found out that there are cruises that travel to the beautiful, tropical islands on a ship named The Paul Gauguin.
For her Dad's birthday, my daughter sent him the book titled, Peregrinacion de Una Paria and as he read about Tristan's life, he was impressed by her life. He mentioned it to me and I thought the book sounded interesting so I ordered the same book in English along with Paul Gauguin, His Life and Art. Who knows, maybe Flora Tristan Moscoso could be a relative connected to my ex-husband's family. Until someone does a thorough genealogy search on the Moscoso name, we will never know. In the mean time, it is fun to imagine that maybe there is a possibility that my children may have Paul Gauguin's blood running through them!
As I continue to read, maybe I do not want Tristan-Moscoso or Gauguin blood running anywhere near my children! She was not an honest person who told lies to get what she wanted and he died of syphilis. Even though he knew he was ill he continued having sex with young native girls and became an alcoholic picking fights in taverns! Maybe it was the times that made them be the way they were, but I found myself not liking either one of them! Yet, I do find myself admiring their talent. He as an artist and she as a fighter for rights of women and the poor.