Whose paradise? Imperialism and the black experience in the poetry of Nicolas Guillen.
The success of the sixteenth century conquistadores in acquiring gold and silver from the region with which the economies of Spain and her continental neighbours were fueled led to a journey en masse by European citizens yearning to enter and possess a piece of "paradise." The European conquistador/colonizer saw himself as the new Adam whose divine duty was to establish a socio-economic and political structure by which to dominate, exploit, and consume the natural resources that lay within the paradisiacal and virgin spaces of the Americas and the Caribbean.
The economic boom and political supremacy that Spain and her continental neighbors experienced during the period were due to the large-scale extraction of the various readily available commodities. However, it was not long before these commodities were depleted and the native population decimated as a result of being brutally coerced into becoming the newcomer's labor force. Faced with this grim reality, the colonizer realized that the myth he had constructed of paradise on earth was beginning to fade. In order to sustain such a myth, he resorted to the institution of the plantation, which became the chief machinery of wealth and power. The success of this sedentary economy was predicated upon a permanent and dependent labor force, since the colonizer did not envision himself engaging in the arduous telluric activities associated with this new enterprise. Forced labor from the African continent became a viable solution and for over four centuries, plantation as paradise was the dominant view held throughout much of the New World.
In this article, I examine how the paradise imaginary was sustained through the creation of an Adamic space in Cuba, which was highly dependent upon an ongoing exploitative relationship between the European colonizers and the African slaves. Through an in-depth analysis of selected poems by renowned Cuban poet Nicolas Guillen, I will show how paradise is synonymous with hell, as it relates to the African slaves whose primary duty was to keep the myth alive even at the cost of their own lives. These poems are of universal value as their content can be applied to the so-called edenic locations within the Caribbean and beyond.
I will also examine the paradisiacal cornerstone of imperialism/neoimperialism in relation to the collective Cuban experience during the late nineteenth to mid twentieth century at the hands of the United States of America. Finally, I will discuss how in response to the fragmented paradise that had been carved out within the Cuban landscape by the colonizer/neo-colonizer, Guillen sketches an alternative version of paradise, which stems from his ideological/political involvement within the Cuban revolutionary state during the second half of the twentieth century.
Since much of the poet's work is saturated with historical data surrounding the evolutionary process of Cuban society, I will use extra-literary sources that I believe are pertinent in fully understanding the messages conveyed in the poems, which are drawn from the collections West Indies, Ltd. (1934), Son entero (1947), Elegias (1948-58), and Tengo (1964).
For over four centuries the Cuban geographical landscape had been redesigned to accommodate a plantation system that was geared toward the long-term extraction of wealth on the part of the European colonizer/planter. Sugar became the new gold within this staged paradise, and labourers from the African continent forcibly undertook its production. Under the aegis of the Spanish metropolis, a major shareholder in this "edenic" enterprise, there was the forcible transfer of approximately one million Africans to work on the sugar plantations during the period 1517-1880 (Gott 24). It is necessary to point out that during the seventeenth century coffee and tobacco were flourishing industries in Cuba. However, by 1859, sugar became the more dynamic sector. (1) The significance of sugar and slavery in perpetuating the mythological construct of paradise on the island is evident from the fact that it was the last colony where slavery was terminated in 1886. (2)
Within the tangible paradisiacal construct of the plantation, slavery was perceived by the European colonizer as both natural and innocuous. Blacks in Cuba were treated as mere footnotes by the new Adam, who simply made the African slave his property and part of nature, all for his benefit and that of the Motherland. Justifying this phenomenon was the belief that European civilization was superior to all others and its citizens were destined to govern by divine order. This notion of "otherness" is the basis of the racial discrimination and class division that had pervaded Cuban society for centuries.
Contrary to the "edenified" image presented by the colonial masters, Guilleris poetic landscape reveals that it was a slave-driven prosperity, which resulted in the fragmentation, the psychological abrasion, and the socio-economic marginalization of blacks. In "Vine en un barco negrero," from the collection Tengo, the poet's ideological thrust is against the savage institution of slavery. From the first verse, the persona bemoans the reality surrounding his presence within Cuban society:
Vine en un barco negrero. Me trajeron. Cana y latigo el ingenio. Sol hierro. Sudor como caramelo. Pie en el cepo. (Obra poetica 2: 91)
The brutality with which plantation as paradise was created is summed up in the speaker's disclosure of his arrival, his purpose, and his experience. The true nature of "paradise" is dramatized via the polarization of the slave's arrival in Cuba with that of the European conquistador/colonizer. Upon his arrival, the latter was received warmly by natives and a virgin land, which he ultimately possessed. His was a story of enterprise. By contrast, the slave's journey across the Atlantic, feet in stocks, ended with his subjugated status in the cane field under the whip and the steel-hot sun. His was a story of demise. Furthermore, Guillen's skillful and intentional use of the phrase "me trajeron" in the verse serves to create an image of the slave's forceful transhipment and sudden insertion into the unfamiliar space of the plantation, his new home.
I disagree with Robert Marquez's conclusive statement that in the poem the persona "... is prideful of both who he has been and who he is today" (xvi). There is no sense of pride emanating from the third verse, which is the most intense in the entire piece:
O'Donnell. Su puno seco. Cuero y cuero. Los alguaciles y el miedo. Cuero y cuero. De sangre y tinta mi cuerpo. Cuero y cuero. (91)
Here the poet employs historical data through the mention of one of the most infamous figures in Cuban history, Leopoldo O'Donell. In 1843, O'Donnell, a Captain General of the Spanish army, arrived on the island to quell uprisings by slaves, whites, and free blacks seeking independence from the Spanish colonial regime. This system was characterized by racial discrimination, cultural oppression, and extreme poverty. Although O'Donnell's stay on the island was short (1843-44), thousands of blacks were killed, beaten, and sent into exile. (3)
The poignancy that emerges from the persona's recollection of his past is also a result of Guillen's use of the nouns "cuero," "miedo," "sangre," and "tinta." First, they foreground the brutal means through which, according to the Spanish Captain General, he sought "to return the slaves to their habitual state of discipline and servitude ... and at the same time to punish in a severe and exemplary manner the chiefs [of the slaves] ... and free people of colour who have introduced this germ of unrest and insubordination" (Gott 64). Second, the words underscore the true nature of the relationship between slave and master. The "ink" sealed his fate as mere property, his "blood," the cost of keeping the economic wheels of paradise in motion. Inordinate power on the part of the master was wielded via the "whip" and "fear."
During the Colonial Era, blacks in Cuba were reduced to what Aime Cesaire aptly describes as a state of "thingification" (21). The loss of their individuality and absorption into an amorphous mass became part of the process of becoming "thingified." Jean Bart avers, "... the slave was ... just like a farm animal" (xii). In assessing the European colonizer's ideological stance regarding the status of blacks, Ian Strachan argues that they were regarded as "'creatures' of nature ... doing the producing, hand in hand with the ... sun, rain, and soil" (43). In the minds of the colonial masters, the "black" machinery had no past, no socio-economic and political structure prior to its landing in Cuba. Clearly the Adamic discourse, which projected the slave as part of nature, was an attempt to obfuscate the noxious consequences of his deployment on the plantation.
In the poem "El apellido," Guillen chisels away at the layers of illusions that seek to conceal the real picture regarding the conditions of blacks. In addition, the poet reveals the binary position of the European colonizer as creator/destroyer and pinpoints the hypocrisy regarding race relations on both literary and extra-literary levels. While I agree with the scholarship that argues that the poem's centrality is the loss of identity, I wish to focus on the evident opposites in the piece that pertain to the prosperity and stability in "paradise."
The existence of paradise depended on the recruitment of foreign labour. Regardless of the colonizer's viewpoint surrounding the issue, one thing was certain: slaves were not a part of nature in any way, given the fact that they were extracted from a foreign space and inserted into another constructed by the European Adam. Guillen makes this quite clear in the piece, the atmosphere of which is saturated with disquietude, anger, and frustration.
In the second verse of the first stanza, the persona launches an attack against the sub-human process that resulted in his present state:
?No tengo pues un abuelo mandinga, congo, dahomeyano? ?Como se llama? !Oh si, decidmelo! ?Sabeis mi otro apellido, el que me vine de aquella tierra enorme, el apellido sangriento y capturado, que paso sobre el mar entre cadenas, que paso entre cadenas sobre el mar? (Obra poetica 2: 467.54-56, 64-67)
Imbedded in the character's line of questions surrounding his ancestral links are the evils associated with modern history's longest travail: the slave trade and slavery, the chief means through which such links were broken. The greed and ruthlessness that characterized the plantation as paradise resulted in the "rootlessness" of blacks. The issue of detribalization is raised via the speaker's mention of certain African tribes, and the poet's focus on the character's experience of rupture with regards to the cultural, familial, and telluric contact with the Motherland is a response to the exploitative structure created by the colonial master on the plantation. In other words, the creation and success of the European-conceived plantation society was dependent upon the destruction of African communities.
The character's reference to the different tribes is evidence that Guillen is operating once again outside the literary reality of the poem. In Cuba: A New History, Richard Gotts assesses the "tentacular" reach of the colonists in securing labourers from the various tribes in Africa. What is significant about the scholar's focus on this issue is that the names given to the African tribes were not only "corruptions" of their original names, but also a device through which prejudicial labels were attached (47-48). For example, Congos were deemed stupid, having a penchant for alcohol and sex. These labels are part of the means through which racial discrimination was institutionalized in Cuban society for centuries.
Furthermore, I believe that the speaker's concern about the authenticity of his name has much to do with the malfeasant practice of effacing the presence of "blackness" in paradise through the superimposition of Spanish nomenclature, as does the search for his African roots. His vitriolic remark at the unnamed culprits is as follows:
?Como decis Andres en congo? ?Francisco en dahomeyano? En mandinga ?Como se dice Amable? !Ah, no podeis recordarlo! Lo habeis disuelto en tinta immemorial. Lo habeis robado a un pobre negro indefenso. (Obra poetica 2: 467.58-61, 68-70)
In "plantation as paradise," blacks found themselves in the paradoxical situation where they were a vital solution and a critical problem. While they were essentially the "human-fuel" that kept the economies of Cuba and Spain afloat, there existed the problem of pigmentation, African nomenclature, religious practices and traditions. In the space constructed by the Spanish colonizer, these were out of sync. Paradise would therefore have been rendered a failure had he not resorted to acculturative measures as a means of creating harmony within his world.
The Spanish names to which the persona draws reference underscore the practice of erasure through the renaming of the African person. Guillen's response to this social ill is evident through the character's defiant stance. By requesting that the names imposed upon him, and by extension his people, be translated into the various tribal languages, he demonstrates not only an awareness of the infraction committed against him through the dissolution of his original name, but also an unwillingness to be smelted into the desired image of colonial rulers.
I concur with critical thought that the juxtaposing of African and Spanish names in the piece is symbolic of the miscegenation that occurred between both races during the colonial period (White 109-13; Garcia 12-13). Guillen was himself a product of this phenomenon, which resulted in the cultural richness in Cuba of which the poet was immensely proud. At the same time, I propose another interpretation, which I will show is predicated on the whole notion of paradise. I posit that, by raising the issue of miscegenation in the poem, the poet also points out another cankerous element within the fabricated Eden, which is hypocrisy.
As a means of concretizing and safeguarding their hegemonic position within the society that they had created, the Spanish elite in Cuba instituted several socioeconomic codes or barriers that kept blacks at the base of the social pyramid. At the same time, there existed a clandestine and separate code of sexual conduct, the evidence of which is the Cuban mulatto. The speaker's chiding tone at such hypocrisy is noted in the following lines:
(Que se averguence el amo) ?Sere Yelofe? ?Nicolas Yelofe, acaso? ?O Nicolas Bakongo? ... !Que enigma entre las aguas! (467.90-93, 100)
A sense of shame or guilt is what the embittered persona desires for the colonial master whose double standards have resulted in his psychologically abrasive state. Sadly enough, as a product/victim of miscegenation the mulatto persona is forced to exist on the fringes of society on account of his "dark side."
Within the scholarly realm Guillen is labeled, among other things, a genius and socialist poet due to his poetic investment of detailing the experience of blacks in Cuba from the period of slavery to the Revolution. Justifying his literary "contestual" crusade, Guillen discloses, "[f]rom my childhood ... I saw a spectacle of discrimination against Negroes because of the colour of their skin ... This turned me into a rebel against a society like that ..." (qtd. in Sardinha 69-70). I concur with Josaphat B. Kubayanda's statement that "Guillen's poetry was the first successful development in Cuba of a vital and original aesthetic based upon the black and African elements on Caribbean soil" (1).
However, it would be remiss to overlook the fact that the poet's ideological stance or poetic discourse concerning blacks is part of a wider discourse on blackness in a Caribbean context. The vehicle through which such a discourse was raised and sustained from the early 1930s into the 1960s was the Negritude movement. Founded by the Martiniquan poet and political figure Aime Cesaire, its membership included African and Caribbean intellectuals such as Leon Damas (French Guiana), Rene Maran (Martinique), Leopold Senghor (Senegal), as well as Guillen. Beyond the Caribbean shores there was also "... a deepening self-consciousness among Blacks ... during the post-World War One decade in Harlem and Paris" (Marquez xxxix) and black North American scholars such as Langston Hughes and Richard Wright played a significant role in the campaign to revalorize blackness. (4)
In an interview with Charles H. Rowell, Cesaire expounds on the creation of the Negritude movement:
... we were in a century of exacerbated Eurocentrism, a fantastic ethnocentrism that enjoyed a guiltless conscience. No one questioned ... the superiority of European civilization ... no one was ashamed of being a colony ... they had interiorized the colonizer's vision of themselves ... we were in a century dominated by the theory of assimilation ... So Negritude was for us a way of asserting ourselves ... the affirmation of ourselves, of the return to our own identity, of the discovery of ourselves. (55)
Guillen operated within a period when the ideological commitment of the Caribbean intellectual was that of discarding the colonialist yoke and re-appropriating the elements that characterized blackness. Within the poetic landscape of "Sudor y latigo," Guillen's rebelliousness is evident via the volatile situation that unfolds between the slave and his master, which is rooted in Cuban history. Underscored in the poem is the actual disharmony that exists in the space that both characters occupy and I believe that this serves to devalue the image of stability and prosperity in paradise. The poem begins with two powerful words, "sudor" and "latigo," that not only relate to the slave's corporal experience of pain and the loss of energy through forced labour, but also are allegories of dominance and servitude. The emotionally charged atmosphere in the piece is maintained through their repetition. The poet's message of disharmony within "paradise" is conveyed not only through the rebellious act of murder committed by the slave, on whose scarred body is scripted the tale of repeated abuse at the hands of his ruthless master, but also the inequitable relationship that exists between both characters on the material level:
... el negro descalzo, desnudo el cuerpo llagado, sobre el campo Latigo, sudor y latigo, tinto en la sangre del amo ... (Obra poetica 2: 269.4-6, 19-21)
Through the slave's nakedness Guillen addresses symbolically the cultural and economic dispossession of blacks. Evidence that the character's mind and body are not configured to the system within which he is inserted is found in his response to the call in his veins to disrobe himself of the cloak of inferiority with which he is enrobed and reclaim his dignity, even at the death of his master. While I agree with Lorna V Williams's conclusive statement that the "...violent act has become an end in itself, and the slave still has no effective mode of advancing his claim for proper consideration ..."(48), I also believe that this microcosmic event is the poet's way of pointing out the volatility that existed on the plantations, a fact which turns on its head the imperialist notion of the slave as a part of nature. The numerous insurrections in Cuba from slavery's inception in the sixteenth century to its end in the ninteenth century stand as proof of the non-conformity of blacks with their imposed status.
Guillen's poetic rebelliousness is also detected through his skillful use of the blood motif. The harsh reality in the poem is that both the slave and his master lose their blood at each other's hands. It is a common denominator, the life source of both characters, regardless of their skin color or position within the hierarchy. In light of this, it is my view that the blood motif is the means through which the poet confronts the evil of racial discrimination within the society. Blood is therefore a metonym for unity/humanity.
Within the Cuban context, the mythological projection of the plantation as paradise was not exclusive to the Spanish colonizers. The nation's proximity and "envisioned" economic possibilities made it the target of US interest throughout the second half of the ninteenth century. The "Ostend Manifesto" of 1854 reveals both the urgency and the extreme measures that the United States was willing to carry out in order to hold the "apple in its bosom" (Perez 108). It stipulated that if Spain was unwilling to sell Cuba, "... then, by every law, human and divine, [the United States] shall be justified in wresting it from Spain ..." (110).
The opportunity to create a United States-style paradise in Cuba came in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War (1898) through the Platt Amendment (1902). This political instrument, via which Spain relinquished her hold on Cuba, was nothing more than a proverbial "slap in the face" of Cubans who had fought for centuries to gain independence, for it stipulated, among other things, that "Americans had the right to intervene in Cuba whenever it felt the need" (Gott 111). Furthermore, the imperialist ideology of the fifteenth century Spanish colonizer is mirrored in Admiral T. Sampson's assertion that "... [Cubans were] no more fit for self government than gunpowder for hell" (Perez 180).
The first five decades of the twentieth century witnessed the infiltration of Cuban society by US investors and thrill-seekers, as well as the establishment of a defective political and socio-economic system under the aegis of the US authorities.
Commenting on the issue of US occupation of the Republic of Cuba, Guillen remarks "... [it] is well known that the Yankees disguised their imperialist penetration in our country, directed towards the exploitation of our resources, under the cloak of 'protection' which never existed" (Sardinha 59). The poet is highly aware of the vampiric nature of the modern-day American Adam, and his poetic campaign in the defense of the nation's sovereignty against the paradisiacal US construct is skillfully crafted in the piece entitled, "West Indies, Ltd." Guillen's collective approach to the change of colonial masters and the continuities within the various islands in the region explains the use of such a title. In fact, the opening lines contradict the whole mythical imaginary of the region as paradise:
... descendiente de esclavos y de aquella chusma incivil de variadisima calana, que en el nombre de Espana cedio Colon a Indias con ademan gentil. (Obra poetica 1:212.11-16)
Steeped in historical facts, the quotation above underscores the brutality with which the Spanish colonial empire was established. It is significant that Guillen begins the piece by focusing on the European colonizer's presence and execution of inordinate power in the region and then skillfully shifts his poetic lens to the neighbour from the north. This strategy brings to light certain deleterious commonalities associated with imperialism that Negritude sought to address in the Caribbean and throughout the world. These included exploitation, racial division, poverty, political corruption, and moral decadence.
Moreover, the poet's perception of the raptorial nature of US imperialism is poeticized in the following manner:
!West Indies! !West Indies! !West Indies! Este es un presidio Donde cada hombre tiene atados los pies Esta es la grotesca sede de companies and trusts. Aqui estan el lago de asfalto, las minas de hierro, Las plantaciones de cafe, Este es el pueblo del all right ... este es el pueblo del very well, donde nadie esta bien. (218.189, 193-97, 199-202)
Pathos is evoked from the speaker's repeated cry of the region's name, an act that certainly emphasizes his disquietude with the dilemma it faces. In the quotation, Guillen ridicules not only the reality that the American eagle's claws are imbedded in the economic jugular of the West Indies, but also the linguistic invasion that is a result of neo-imperialism. His address on the issue is undertaken via the juxtaposing of certain cleverly chosen English phrases, which also serve to highlight the poet's use of irony. Within the "neo-edenic" space that is characterized by United States-owned companies and plantations, life is "all right" and "very well" for the marginalized workers.
The causticity with which the poet seeks to erode the paradisiacal concept regarding the region is noted in his focus on the bourgeoisie, whose subscription to the imperialist mode d'vivre is nothing more than the sacrificing of the nation's sovereignty:
Aqui estan los servidores de Mr. Babbit Aqui estan los que chillan: hello baby, y fuman "Chesterfield" y "Lucky Strike." Aqui estan los bailadores de fox trots, los boys del jazz band ... (218.203, 206-08)
The poet despairs the signs of the loss of Cuban cultural identity at the hands of the nation's bourgeoise, who have now become "mimic men" on account of their appropriation of US culture. The poignant remark that "si me muriera ahora mismo, mi madre, / !que alegre me iba a poner!" evinces the effect that such betrayal of the nation's sovereignty has on Guillen (218).
Guillen's poetic imaging of paradise as a tainted realm is part of a collective perception within the marginalized sectors in Cuban society. Shedding a bit of light on what can be termed the poet's messianic duty, Ellis avers:
It is as if Guillen had touched on something active in the consciousness of a few but which was submerged in the unconsciousness of most Cubans, something said in a way that the people collectively could recognize as having been on the tips of their tongues and that awaited the articulation Guillen gave to it. (64)
Guillen's pen becomes the metaphorical sword with which he cuts through the layers of evils within the society, exposing their effects on the voiceless masses. With the truth now revealed, the poet begins the process of re-appropriation of his nation's identity on the psychological, economic, cultural, and political levels. This is evident in the celebratory piece entitled "Tengo." The title, a verb, denotes possession and stands in stark contrast to the dispossession faced by the exploited sectors within the paradisiacal ambit ruled over by both the colonial and neocolonial masters. The message of an egalitarian society in which the marginalized communities now find their niche is brought forth in the persona's revelation that "yo, Juan sin Nada no mas ayer / y hoy Juan con Todo"(Obra poetica 2: 68.2-3).
In addition, the capitalizing of the words "Nada" and "Todo" is of major significance, as they symbolize the speaker's shift in status. Where once he was "nothing" and possessed "nothing," a new dawning takes place where there is an end to racial discrimination, animosity, exploitation, class division, political corruption, and he now possesses "everything." The all-inclusive platform from which the poet operates is evinced in the string of possessive adjectives used with regards to ownership in Cuba: "tengo el gusto de andar por mi pais, dueno de cuanto hay en el ... ya mios para siempre y tuyos, nuestros ..." (68.9-10, 17). There's a sense of elation on the part of the speaker at the realization that he is now the legitimate Adam in a space that is the rightful possession of all Cubans. The poet's alternative version of paradise, which is clearly outlined in the piece, is deeply rooted in his communist ideology and the success of the Cuban Revolution. The prelapsarian society that Guillen desires is possible in the aftermath of what I consider an Armageddon-like battle between the messianic figure, Fidel Castro, and all the agents of imperialism whom he has vanquished. Such victory, from the poet's standpoint, makes possible the existence of a space where wealth creation and extraction becomes a national project with all Cubans being "duenos," as stressed by the persona in the citation above. While it may be argued that within such a version of paradise the natural or Darwinist tendency of men to compete and surpass each other's potential would be sacrificed at the altar of communal or nationalist engagement, Guillen foresees that it is through such an engagement that the socio-economic and political ills associated with capitalist societies can be held at bay.
Guillen's artistic contribution to an understanding of the historic realities surrounding blacks and other minority groups in Cuba is significant. His militancy lies in his ability to demythologize Europe's and the United States' process of engagement in Cuba from the period of the Conquest and slavery to the Revolution. The poet not only rips to shreds the paradisiacal imaginings regarding his nation and the region, but also erects a model of social existence where self-determination and absolute autonomy are the chief cornerstones.
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Bergard, Laird and Stuart B. Schwartz. Comparative Histories of Slavery in Brazil, Cuba and the United States. Cambridge: Cambridge UP 2007.
Cesaire, Aime. Discourse on Colonialism. Trans. Joan Pinkham. New York: Monthly Review P 1972.
Ellis, Keith. Cuba's Nicolas Guillen: Poetry and Ideology. Buffalo: U of Toronto P 1985.
Gott, Richard. Cuba: A New History. New Haven: Yale UP, 2004.
Guillen, Nicolas. Obra poetica 1920-1972. 2 Vols. Havana: Bolsilibros Union, 1974.
Kesteloot, Lilyan and Ruthmarie H. Mitsch. "Cesaire: The Poet and the Politician." Research in African Literatures 26.2 (1995): 169-73.
Kubayanda, Josaphat B. The Poet's Africa: Africaness in the Poetry of Nicolas Guillen and Aime Cesaire. New York; Westport; London: Greenwood P 1990.
Kutzinski, Vera M. "Fearful Asymemetries: Langston Hughes, Nicolas Guillen, and 'Cuba Libre.'" Diacritics 34.3-4 (2004): 112-42.]STOR. Web. 12 Nov. 2010.
Marquez, Robert. Man-Making Words: Selected Poems of Nicolas Guillen. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P 1972.
Nichols, Prescott S. "Cesaire's Native Land and the Third World." Twentieth Century Literature 18.3 (1972): 157-66. JSTOR. Web. 12 Nov. 2010.
Perez, Jr., Louis A. Cuba: Between Reform and Revolution. New York: Oxford UP 1988.
Rosello, Mireille. "The 'Cesaire Effect,' or How to Cultivate One's Nation." Research in African Literatures. 32.4 (2001): 77-91. JSTOR. Web. 12 Nov. 2010.
Rowell, Charles H. "It Is Through Poetry That One Copes With Solitude: An Interview With Aime Cesaire." Callaloo 38 (1989): 49-67. JSTOR. Web. 12 Nov. 2010.
Sardinha, Dennis. The Poetry of Nicolas Guilen: An Introduction. London: New Beacon, 1976.
Schwartz, Stuart B. "A Colonial Slave Society." Sugar Plantations in the Formation of Brazilian Society--Bahia, 1550-1835. Cambridge Latin American Studies 52. 1985. Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1998. 245-63.
Staten, Clifford L. The History of Cuba. Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations. Westport: Greenwood P, 2003.
Strachan, Gregory Ian. Paradise and Plantation: Tourism and Culture in the Anglophone Caribbean. Charlottesville: U of Virginia P 2002.
White, Clement A. Decoding the Word: Nicolas Guillen as Mythmaker and Debunker of Myth. Miami: Ediciones Universales, 1993.
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COLLEGE OF THE BAHAMAS
(1) For more information on the factors that contributed to the decline in Cuba's coffee and tobacco industries, see "Transformation and Transition" in Perez.
(2) Although it has been stated that Cuba was the last colony to end slavery, it would be remiss not to mention that the institution ended in Brazil some two years later, even though it was no longer dependent on Portugal. In fact, 1888 witnessed the rise of republicanism as a new political force in Brazil. The late abolition of slavery there can be attributed to the fact that, like Cuba, sugar and slavery played a significant role in defining Brazilian society. For more information, see Bergard and Schwartz's Comparative Histories of Slavery in Brazil, Cuba, and the United States and Schwartz's 'A Colonial Slave Society."
(3) For more information on O'Donell and black military leaders in the rebel forces, such as Antonio Maceo and Maximo Gomez, who played an outstanding role in the War of Independence, see Gott's Cuba: A New History. See also "The Issue of Slavery in Cuba" and "The Ten Years War and its Aftermath" in Staten's The History of Cuba.
(4) For more information on the contributions made by Cesaire, Hughes, and others, see Kesteloot and Mitsch, Rosello, and Kutzinski.
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