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#2130: Granma on Alejo Carpentier (fwd)
From: Max Blanchet <MaxBlanchet@worldnet.att.net>
© Copyright GRANMA INTERNATIONAL
La Havana. Cuba
Alejo Carpentier, novelist of the century in Cuba
BY MARTA ROJAS (Granma daily staff writer)
ON December 26, Alejo Carpentier would have been 95 years old. He lived
a little more than 75 of those years in Havana, where he was born in
That is a celebration that would fill any Cuban or any contemporary of
the author with pride. The reason is very simple. Without any doubt,
Alejo is the most significant writer of the 20th century and his works
are now published in La Pléiade for Classiques universels collection
(Gallimard, France). He laid the foundations for Latin America’s
literary renaissance after his naturalist precursors, thus giving rise
to the so-called literary boom on our continent. This is how he was
recently defined by the international press.
A simple analysis earns him the title of writer of the century in Cuba,
complemented by other indisputable virtues, such as his erudition in
literature, history and music, without overlooking his enormous
contribution as a journalist, an occupation in which he engaged
uninterruptedly from his early youth to the time of his death in 1980.
The 95th anniversary of Carpentier’s birth coincided with the 50th
anniversary of the publication of El reino de este mundo (The Kingdom of
This World), the novel that objectively expressed his thesis of American
magic realism. With this work, one of his most astoundingly beautiful
novels, Carpentier broke away from the prose styles that were known in
Latin America. Time and history entered into a special communion; he
left surrealism behind as a literary form in this part of the world and
introduced us to a form of our own which identifies Latin American
singularities and, with that, creates a paradigm.
The first edition of that now famous novel which has been translated
into many languages had to be financed by the author himself, in Mexico.
Once translated into French, it became a bestseller overnight in that
country, even though the French publishing house omitted the prologue in
which Carpentier had defined his theoretical fields, laying aside the
surrealism in vogue, which he had tasted in Paris.
Also luckily for Cubans, the superb facsimile edition of El reino de
este mundo, financed by the Alejo Carpentier Foundation so that it could
be purchased in pesos, contains the prologue written by the author,
where he confesses, "at every step in Haiti, I encountered magic
realism... but magic realism was not a unique privilege of Haiti, but
the heritage of all America... magic realism is found at every step in
the lives of men who inscribed dates in the continent’s history and left
surnames that are still borne: from the seekers of the fountain of
Alejo Carpentier, the first Latin American writer to be recognized with
the Miguel Cervantes Saavedra Prize, has one of the most substantial and
prolific body of work in the narrative field: journalism, cultural
promotion, oratory—as a lecturer in the Americas and Europe, including
the United States—essays, musicology, radio and publicity.
Alejo Carpentier’s bibliography is constantly being updated by Dr.
Araceli García Carranza, based on the papers generously donated by
Carpentier to the José Martí National Library, even though they would be
worth a lot of money anywhere in the world, just as he donated the money
from the Cervantes Prize to establish universal art galleries throughout
The National Library is preparing an issue of its magazine in honor of
our novelist of the century, who was recently awarded, postmortem, the
glorious Simón Bolívar Order, in recognition of his intellectual
contribution to Venezuela over almost 14 years. It was in that sister
country’s El Nacional de Caracas newspaper (1948) that Alejo, after his
travels in Haiti, published what would be the prologue of El reino de
este mundo, when the novel was still unpublished.
In conclusion, I would point to the apprenticeship of Ti Noel, a
character in the book, who had so many difficulties to overcome, but
who, exhausted with hardship and tasks, was beautiful within his misery,
capable of loving in the midst of plagues, able to discover by himself
his grandeur, his great stature in the Kingdom of This World.
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