Carnival and National Identity in the Poetry of Afrocubanismo

Thomas F. Anderson

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"Incorporates the most recent output from the fields of literary studies, history, musicology, and anthropology and proposes a truly novel approach to key figures in Cuban literature. The author’s close readings of classic works by Guillén, Ballagas, Carpentier, Camín, and others will reinvigorate the field."--Luis Duno-Gottberg, Rice University

"The most important study of the representation of Afro-Cuban popular culture, and especially traditional carnival celebrations, in the poetry of the cultural and literary movement known as Afrocubanismo."--Jorge Marturano, UCLA

The poetry associated with Afrocubanismo has been of great interest to academics since the movement began in the late 1920s. Thomas Anderson’s detailed analysis infuses new life into the study of these remarkable works. Focusing on the representations of carnival and its comparsas (carnival bands and music), Carnival and National Identity in the Poetry of Afrocubanismo offers thought-provoking new readings of poems by seminal Cuban poets, demonstrating how their writings on and about these traditions both contributed to and detracted from the development of a recognizable Afro-Cuban identity.

This volume is the first to examine, from a literary perspective, the long-running debate between the proponents of Afro-Cuban cultural manifestations and the predominantly white Cuban intelligentsia who viewed these traditions as “backward” and counter to the interests of the young Republic. Including analyses of the work of Felipe Pichardo Moya, Alejo Carpentier, Nicolás Guillén, Emilio Ballagas, José Zacarías Tallet, Felix B. Caignet, Marcelino Arozarena, and Alfonso Camín, this rigorous, interdisciplinary volume offers a fresh look at the canon of Afrocubanismo and offers surprising insights into Cuban culture during the early years of the Republic.

Thomas F. Anderson is associate professor of Latin American literature at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of Everything in Its Place: The Life and Works of Virgilio Piñera.

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What is particularly striking about this book is the level of critical attention given to a collection of poems (which are usefully translated in full at the end of the volume), drawings, photographs and eye-witness accounts that really bring to life the spectacle, fascination and subversive nature of these public displays. . .Anderson is clearly well versed in the political history of the colonial years and his reading of the poems is balanced carefully with writing and commentary pertinent to the period.-- Wasafari

Underscores the sociopolotical and historical contexts of these poems which have shaped the literary production and message of the Afrocubanismo movement. . . . Nothing less than a tour de force.-- Callaloo

Varied and thoughtful. . . . Successfully plumbs the position of the Afro-Cuban performer and brings into sharp relief the way politicians historically sought to affect all elements of Cuban culture.-- New West Indian Guide

A groundbreaking commentary on the literary and cultural movement known as Afrocubanismo.-- University of Notre Dame News

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