This biography, written by J.M Taylor, an anthropologist, was published in the 70s, during Argentina’s Dirty War. The author lived with a working class Peronist family to study the ‘myth of the myth’ about Evita.
This biography requires a lot of patience, since it is not so much a retelling of her life as an in depth study of Eva’s impact on Argentine culture, as well as Argentine culture’s view of femininity and how Eva is seen as either the embodiment or a defiance of their feminine ideal. Taylor supposes that while Peronists and Anti Peronists believe their values are different, they truly are not, and explores both the Black and White Myth in detail. I found her insights into both enlightening, such as the White Myth’s claim that Eva was pure and virginal and that ‘the virtue of the Peronist woman lay in never thinking to supplant the opposite sex.” (page 76.) Her insight that the Anti Peronists have the same view of women states in that some anti Peronists felt Eva was ‘immediately trying to wear the pants in the relationship.’ (page 78). Both myths also emphasize Eva’s sexuality, the White Myth denying she had any sex drive at all, while the Black Myth making her into a vamp and seductress. In this case, the White Myth is actually closer to the truth, since most who met Eva said she had little to no sex appeal and also did not have sexual relations with Peron from 1950 until her death.
The conclusions she drew about the ‘Red Myth’ of Evita are also interesting. In the 60s and 70s, a group called the Monoteros took Evita as their flag and portrayed her as a far leftist heroine stating that if she’d lived, she would have been one of them. I do not believe this to be accurate. To quote Dujone Ortiz ‘if she had lived, she definitely would have stayed to the left, but not to this extent.’
The chapter on the Revolutionary Eva is enlightening as well, as she attempts to dissect the ways Evita was viewed. ‘To the Peronists, Eva, the woman herself, was the revolutionary change within the movement: she acted in a way no one else dared act.’ This is a very accurate assessment of Evita. In this chapter, Taylor hypothesises that Anti Peronists could have ‘put up with Peron’ if it had not been for Eva’s unconventional behavior.
The images in this book are also a treat and show Eva in her various roles– as actress, as mother, First Lady, Social Worker, President’s Wife, Incendiary, Madonna and Martyr, as well as how she was seen abroad, and both anti-Peronists and Peronist revolutionaries. Highly recommended biography, although I must emphasize patience is required