The life of Flora Tristan (Paris, 1803-Bordeaux, 1844) is a succession of pergrinaciones. Through his experiences and his travels in search of identity she knows firsthand the problems of women and the working class. As a result, it becomes an activist whose work is the forerunner of Marxism and key to modern feminism.
Flora personal odyssey begins from the day of his birth on April 7, 1803, in Napoleonic France. French mother and Peruvian father (specifically of Arequipa, the second largest city in the country), belonged to a family with money and good social relations, but the sudden death of Mariano Tristan, a fallen in combat colonel, leaves his mother Anne Laisney, her brother and her (four years) in poverty.
“He died suddenly, without having regularized their marriage without thinking to give legal validity through bequests”. ( ‘Pilgrimages of a Pariah’)
Recover their rights as heir years later became one of its determinations, boat traveling to Peru in 1833 to meet the paternal family and reclaim their property. All personal and intellectual adventure that portrays in his book “Pilgrimages of a Pariah ‘, the most important of his career with’ Union Obrera ‘(1843).
The new economic situation of his mother, with little resources to educate them, made Vaugirard abandon their mansion and be moved to the field, as the French state did not recognize them any rights. They live there until his brother dies, when Flora is 15 years old.
Back in Paris, mother and daughter stay in one of the poorest neighborhoods of the French capital, near Place Maubert, and Flora began working in a lithography workshop, owned by André Chazal, the perpetrator that the chase for 13 years of his life. Chazal, obsessed with her, proposes marriage, and pressured by her mother as a way out of their situation of need, Flora Tristan accepted and the wedding is held in February 1821.
During this new phase, Flora discovers feminism reading ‘Vindications rights of women’ Mary Wollstonecraft while awaiting the birth of her two sons and his daughter Aline, who will be years later the mother of the painter Paul Gauguin. Just when I was pregnant with Aline, in 1825, Flora runs away from home because her husband physically and psychologically abused. Since then, the right to divorce women becomes a priority for her
“By leaving my husband quit his name and I came to take my father. Well received everywhere as a widow or unmarried, was always rejected when the truth came to be discovered. Young, attractive and enjoying apparently a shadow of independence, were enough to poison the talks causes and repudiate me for a society that supports the weight of the chains that has been forged, and that spares none of its members try to get rid of them. ” ( ‘Pilgrimages of a Pariah’).
Beyond the Parisian social prejudices, separated from Chazal marked the beginning of a legal battle for custody of the children. Flora moved to England where he is employed as a maid and becomes a pariah, escaping from one country and working in cleaning, translator, babysitting, … to raise her family. But their first child dies and her ex-husband attacks continue, one in the middle of the street.
M. Chazal’s persecutions had forced me several times to leave Paris. When my son was eight years he insisted on him at his side and this condition offered me leave me alone. Tired of long struggle and unable to resist, consented to give my son shedding tears for the future of that child, more just after a few months after the settlement, my husband began to haunt me and wanted to take my daughter, because he realized that I was happy to have her near me. “( ‘Pilgrimages of a pariah’).
Flora Tristan flees Paris for the sixth time to protect his daughter, he hides under false names and lives under constant threat. In 1833 leaves the girl in charge of a confident woman in a boarding house in Paris to travel to Peru to claim their legitimate property.
It achieved only when it gets rid of Chazal their separation in 1838 is approved. Chazal reacts violently, shoots and is arrested and sentenced to 20 years hard labor. That bullet that nearly killed her and that was installed in her left breast, was the price of their freedom.
Flora Tristan takes up contact with his father’s family in Peru through a relative’s visit to Paris and through letters. In 1833 he embarks for four and a half months on the ship El Mexicano, bound for Peru, being the only woman on board.
In Arequipa, the welcome is good but his uncle Pio Tristan informs you that it is not entitled to a penny of the inheritance from his father. Just get a small monthly pension and passes through a deep depression. This stay in the American country is central to his thinking, since discovering the profound social inequalities during the Peruvian Civil War.
“I came to find a legitimate place within a family and a nation … But after eight months of being treated like a stranger in the house of my uncles was evident that he had not won any status within my paternal family” . ( ‘Pilgrimages of a Pariah’)
Returning to Europe in 1835, Flora began his career as a writer and publishes his short essay ‘of the need for good reception for foreign women’. Also starts writing his memoirs, ‘Pilgrimages a pariah.
In London, you get into the House of Lords disguised as a man, knows firsthand the situation of factories and working-class neighborhoods and, in 1841, joins Pauline Roland and other progressive women who enrich their feminism. The result of this debate, makes the thesis of his key work ‘Workers Union’, 1843, written four years before the ‘Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels.
Dies of typhus on November 14, 1844 in Bordeaux, France, at age 41. He says goodbye surrounded by followers who open a public subscription to make a monument. Flora Tristan leaves an unfinished work, ‘The emancipation of women’, published posthumously in 1846.
(Source: “Life written by women ‘Volume II.’ Pen as a sword ‘(Coordinator:… Anna Caballé Publisher Ballantine Books)’ Pilgrimages a pariah, Flora Tristan, 1838).