Kathleen Weaver


A major figure in Latin American struggles for women's rights and social justice, Magda Portal (1900-1989) co-founded the revolutionary nationalist APRA Party of Peru and was the principal women's leader of that party. In her Chilean exile Portal discovered the nineteenth century writer and social reformer, Flora Tristan. In 1944 Portal offered her first lecture on Tristan (1803-1844)—a brilliant diarist and journalist as well as a seminal social theorist, labor organizer, champion of women's rights, and a significant precursor—arguably co-founder—of socialist internationalism. Expanding and revising her initial account, Portal continued into her later years to lecture on Tristan, whom she revered as an exemplary social fighter. The introduction by Weaver, author of Peruvian Rebel, The World of Magda Portal, situates the lecture in the context of Portal's own life and her evolving views on the role of women in a developing country, noting parallels between Portal's life and that of Tristan. Portal's admiring narrative starts with Tristan's beginnings as the daughter of an aristocratic Peruvian landowner living in Spain and France, proceeding through the father's death, the family's impoverishment, and Tristan's awakening to the social misery occasioned by rapid industrialization. Portal traces Tristan's journey to Peru to present herself as a hopeful but unrecognized heir to her late father's lands. The publication of Tristan's Peruvian diaries is mentioned: an acerbic critique of a decadent colonial upper class. Portal also treats Tristan's travels in industrial London; her attempts to organize workers throughout the industrial zones of France; her involvement with the Chartists, the Utopians, and the proto-socialist circles that included Marx and Engels; as well as her attempts to escape a homicidal husband when divorce in France was outlawed. Portal's bibliography and notes are supplemented by translator's notes and bibliographical references.

Author Biography

Kathleen Weaver is the author of the biography, Peruvian Rebel, The World of Magda Portal, With a Selection of Her Poems, Penn State University Press. She is also a poet and anthologist of women poets. A volume of her poetry, Too Much Happens, was published by The Post-Apollo Press. She has also worked as adjunct faculty at the San Francisco Art Institute and Berkeley City College, and as a filmmaker, collaborating with documentarian Allan Francovich. Her translations of Cuban poets, including Fayad Jamís, Roberto Fernández Retamar, Samuel Feijóo, Cintio Vitier, Fina García Marruz, and Eliseo Diego have appeared in journals and anthologies. Her selected translations of Cuban poet Nancy Morejón appeared in Where the Island Sleeps Like a Wing, Black Scholar Press. She studied Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, and lives in Berkeley with her husband, Bob Baldock.