Museum Cuba

The Pope’s recent visit to Cuba has unleashed a storm of commentary and claims from the usual quarters. Conservatives in Miami are angry that the Pope didn’t meet with dissidents. The Castro government is undoubtedly happy about the Pope’s condemnation of the US trade embargo, but less pleased with his comments about Marxism. But even this can’t bother Cuban officials much. After all, Fidel himself declared in 2010 that the “Cuban »

Papa in Cuba: Hemingway in an Island’s Imagination

[Note: A longer, improved version of this essay is now available.] When Hemingway is remembered today, 50 years after his death, one usually thinks of the Old World: his time in Paris rubbing shoulders with Joyce, Pound, and the American expats of the so-called “Lost Generation”; his participation in three European wars; his love of Spanish bullfighting and African big-game hunting. Nabokov’s pithy dismissal of Hemingway’s work as being primarily about “bells, bulls, »

Moreno Fraginals on the Collapse of Cuban Slavery

Manuel Moreno Fraginals was a Cuban historian. Along with scholars like Walterio Carbonell, he belongs to a radical strain of historiography that found itself at odds with both the pre-1959 dictatorship and the Castro regime. Moreno Fraginals was exiled twice: from 1956–1959 and again after 1994. Like novelist Jesús Díaz, he became increasingly critical of the Cuban government during the economic crisis of the 1990s. Also like Díaz, he was a radical thinker whose »

Critical Standpoints in Post-Soviet Cuban Literature: Ena Lucía Portela

This is a slightly modified version of a short talk I gave on March 1, 2010, at the Center for Latin American Studies in Berkeley, California. Introduction This paper is an early attempt to show how Ena Lucía Portela’s El pájaro: pincel y tinta china contains formal features grounded in a kind of postmodern subjectivity that begins to emerge in Cuba during the Special Period. My claim is not that the novel represents a »

Cuba and Western Intellectuals Since 1959

Towards the end of summer I stumbled upon a gem of a book. Kepa Artaraz’ Cuba and Western Intellectuals since 1959 documents the reciprocal—often symbiotic—relationship between the Cuban Revolution and the loosely-knit New Left formations that arose in Britain, France and the United States during the late 50s and early 60s. Artaraz outlines a broad, yet coherent view of the New Left as a movement characterized by its rejection of traditional communist parties, »