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Cuba and the New Origenismo

Cuba and the New Origenismo

Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Cuba and the New Origenismo
    Book Description:

    The literary texts examined in this study were written in the 1990s, in the wake of a paradigm crisis for socialism and revolution. While Cuban literature was being re-commodified for an international publishing industry, various Cuban writers (Eliseo Alberto, Jesús Díaz, Leonardo Padura, Senel Paz, Antonio José Ponte) reclaimed the cultural movement associated with the magazine Orígenes (1944-1956). Disparaged and marginalized in the 1970s, the origenistas now constituted an emblem of literature's autonomy from the state and of its foundation in an authentic aesthetic sensibility. This neo-origenismo framed an ostensibly modernist literary utopia in the wreckage of a socialist utopia, at a historical moment in which both of these counter-hegemonic projects were overpowered by the culture industry of consumer capitalism. The new origenismo thus speaks to the suspension of Cuban literature between the nation state and the transnational market, and indeed, to the suspension of Cuba itself between a beleaguered socialism and an encroaching global capitalism. JAMES BUCKWALTER-ARIAS is an Associate Professor of Spanish at Hanover College, Indiana.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-799-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction: Orígenes Revisited
    (pp. 1-22)

    This book begins with the premise that a materialist, unapologetically leftist reading of contemporary Cuban culture and a corresponding critique of the global capitalist culture industry became most urgent, and most full of possibility, precisely at the moment of Marxist criticism’s lowest prestige in Cuban literary and cultural criticism and, more broadly, in that historical moment in which Marxism itself was “proved wrong” by such events as the demolition of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent disintegration of the Socialist bloc. Marxism’s privileging of history as the ultimate interpretive framework appeared, almost paradoxically, as self-indictment in a moment in which...

  6. 1 Inscribing the Paradigm: On Senel Paz’s “El lobo, el bosque y el hombre nuevo”
    (pp. 23-49)

    There is a story in Senel Paz’s 1980 collection of stories,El niño aquel, in which a meal in a well-to-do household constitutes the narrative mechanism for an acerbic denunciation of class inequalities. This story, “Almuerzo,” appears about ten years before the now much better-known “El lobo, el bosque y el hombre nuevo,” another Paz story featuring a class-defining meal. In the later story, the fictional character Diego re-enactsParadiso’sscene of the lavish “almerzo lezamiano,” reciting passages from Chapter VII of Lezama Lima’s novel and serving the dishes precisely as described – in exquisite detail – in those pages. In spite...

  7. 2 Gran Literatura and Socialist Cuba: On Jesús Díaz’s Las palabras perdidas
    (pp. 50-82)

    Although Jesús Díaz’s 1992 novelLas palabras perdidasis set primarily in the 1960s, and although there is no reference in the text to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Socialist bloc, this novel would have been difficult to imagine prior to these momentous events in Eastern Europe. Once the basic narrative structure has been imagined, though – as in the Senel Paz story examined in the first chapter – it becomes paradigmatic. Like the Senel Paz story, Jesús Díaz’sLas palabras perdidasis told from the perspective of a young, ambitious, white male writer who liberates...

  8. 3 From Repressive Instrument to Objet d’art: On Eliseo Alberto’s Informe contra mí mismo
    (pp. 83-110)

    Eliseo Alberto’sInforme contra mí mismoreinscribes in 1997 the by-then paradigmatic narrative of Cuban literature’s triumph over socialist politics. Theinformeof the title – which provides the central conceit of Alberto’s memoir – refers to the documentation that Cuban citizens, compelled by the socialist state, provided about their neighbors, co-workers and family members. By the 1990s, however, Alberto has transformed theinformefrom the state’s repressive instrument into his ownobjet d’art. Domestic surveillance undergoes a metamorphosis and emerges as literary genre. That such a transformation should be realized by no less than Eliseo Alberto, son of the famousorigenista...

  9. 4 Cross-dressing and Party Politics: On Leonardo Padura’s Máscaras
    (pp. 111-151)

    A popular joke in Cuba says of the Revolution that the script is excellent but that themise en scèneleaves a lot to be desired. The joke’s effect derives, clearly, from a kind of deflation or trivialization: the Revolution is not the epic culmination of an era of struggle, as official discourse portrays it, but an isolated performance to be reviewed by historians, in the form of a quip or sound bite, before moving on to the next of many Major Events. But the flip side of the trivialization is a rudimentary theorization – the positing of a persistent slippage...

  10. 5 Mapping Orígenes: On Antonio José Ponte’s El libro perdido de los origenistas
    (pp. 152-189)

    This chapter will focus on the distinct contributions ofEl libro perdido de los origenistasto Cuba’s post-Soviet cultural imaginary and on Antonio José Ponte’s construction of theorigenistasas both contemporary cultural phenomena and as actual historical authors. Of the texts examined in this study, only Ponte’s conveys a strong sense of the historical circumstances, socioeconomic realities, aesthetic sensibilities and interpersonal dynamics of the literary group that figures so prominently in all five. And it is only in Ponte’s text that an assiduous and sensitive reading of specific texts of variousorigenistaauthors manifestly informs the texture and substance...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 190-196)

    This chapter’s epigraph, from Ponte’s Prologue to hisEl libro perdido de los origenistas, articulates a central impulse not only of his ownorigenistaimaginary, but a central impulse of the broader extra-official or anti-official recuperation of Orígenes in the 1980s and 1990s. This contestatory recuperation is carried out under the aegis of the literati – not bureaucrats, propaganda ministers or “inquisidores” butartists. In the narratives we have looked at in this study and in the critical literature as well, the vindication of the individual artist and the oblivion of the bureaucrat is a central trope for the overarching cultural...

    (pp. 197-202)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 203-206)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 207-207)