In literature there are works of fiction in which everything is resolved at the end. Art imitates life but the exception proves the rule. There is a much revered Cuban writer, gossip has it that he liked to pass himself off as a Frenchman. Well informed people who knew him declared that this was not the case, he only trilled his rrrr’s because he stuttered. I am referring to Alejo Carpentier.
I love Alejo, there are people that can’t stand his style (baroque; over elaborate), I remember well how I felt after reading “El Reino de Este Mundo” (The World’s Kingdom). It was confusing to me since I was so young then, but I felt the grandeur. On the other hand, I did not feel the same when reading “Consagración de la Primavera” (Spring Blessings) though his prose dazzled me. One of my favorites is “Cuando llegué a los Pasos Perdidos, si se cayó el dinero” (When I arrived at the Lost Steps, I felt silence) I still have the first edition I ever had, even though I have given away subsequent editions of it.
But I would like to talk about his most famous novel, a novel that was made into a movie and translated into many languages. “The Century of Lights.” It is a passionate work, at least for people who like history. You can follow the interesting story line between the Caribbean and France in the 19th Century. But if you read the novel looking ahead, you’ll see the last 50 years of our history.
Maybe Alejo did not foresee the coming of the Cuban Revolution. I began this by writing that there are times when life imitates art. Read it again.
CLARIFICATION: In my posting “Hotel Regina” I wrote that I had to get authorization to photograph the Campoamor. But I did not need authorization to take pictures from the outside, which would be impossible to prevent. I asked for permission to go in and then observed that behind the planks that cover the entrance there was access to the inside from an adjacent park. That’s where they told me about the authorization, which I should obtain from the Teatro Garcia Lorca. They explained to me that I could not go in because it was going to be restored and they already had construction materials there to do the work. So, very sweetly, I asked the custodian of the park – who never understood a thing – if it was going to be restored before it completely fell apart.
Translated by: Hank, Mery y Irish Sam