Guillermo Cabrera Infante

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Guillermo Cabrera Infante

Guillermo Cabrera Infante (Gibara, Cuba, April 22, 1929 – London, February 21, 2005) was a Cuban writer and scriptwriter who, after exiling from his country, obtained British citizenship . He won the 1997 Cervantes Prize.

Guillermo_Cabrera_Infante’s Biography

He was born on April 22, 1929 in Gibara (then Province of Oriente, now Holguín). He was the eldest son of journalist Guillermo Cabrera and Zoila Infante, both militant communists and founders of the party’s organization in Gibara, reason for which they were arrested with Cabrera Infante, who then, at seven years of age, would spend several months in prison. Of Canarian origin (his ancestors were from La Palma), in 1941 he moved with his family to Havana.

At age 19, he wrote, product of a bet, a parody of The President of Miguel Angel Asturias, which led to Bohemia. To his astonishment, the magazine published it (1948) and, according to Cabrera Infante, “what happened then, changed my life definitely”.

He started studying Medicine, which he left to pass to Journalism in 1950, because he was already beginning to discover that his hobbies, literature and cinema, would be the passions to which he would dedicate his life.

In 1952 the censors of Fulgencio Batista’s regime found Cabrera guilty of incorporating obscenities in a story he had written that year. As punishment, he was forbidden to publish with his name, an issue that was resolved by using the pseudonym G. Cain, a contraction of their surnames. In 1954, he became a film critic of the magazine Carteles in which he signed with his pseudonym (which he would later use in some of his scripts) and with which he would collaborate until 1960. In the late 1950s, Cabrera Infante wrote the most of the stories that would be compiled later in Así en la paz, as in the war.

He married Marta Calvo (1934) in 1953 and had two daughters with her (Ana, in 1954 and Carola, in 1958). However, five years later he met the Cuban actress Miriam Gómez, with whom he married on December 9, 1961 after divorcing his first wife.

After Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, Cabrera Infante, who had supported the Cuban Revolution, was appointed director of the National Council of Culture, executive of the Film Institute and deputy director of the newspaper Revolución (now Granma), in charge of his literary supplement, Monday of Revolution, in which he pretended to carry out the dreams of freedom and cultural development of the revolution. However, his relations with the regime soon deteriorated, due to the short film that Orlando Jiménez Leal and his brother, Alberto “Sabá” Cabrera Infante (1933-2002), filmed at the end of 1960. The short PM, which, without a defined structure, described the ways of having fun of a group of Havanans during a day of the late 1960s, was banned the following year by Castro. The controversy broke out in the pages of Monday of Revolution, until the supplement was suppressed (1961). The honeymoon of the Cuban revolution with the intellectuals was coming to an end. In his speech of June 30, 1961 (Words to the Intellectuals), Fidel Castro pronounced his famous phrase Inside the Revolution all; against the Revolution, nothing.

Cabrera Infante was sent to Brussels in 1962 as cultural attaché of the Cuban embassy. During his stay in Belgium, he wrote an office of the twentieth century (1963). There he would live with his second wife, Miriam Gómez until 1965, when due to the sudden death of his mother, he returns to the island. In Cuba he was held by the Counterintelligence Service for four months, until finally he was able to leave for exile, taking the two daughters from his first marriage. Cabrera Infante and his family went to Madrid and then to Barcelona. However, the economic difficulties and the refusal of the Franco regime to regularize their situation moved him to move to London, where he settled permanently. The experience of the brief return to his native island would be reflected in his book Map drawn by a spy, published posthumously in 2013.

In 1968 he published his first novel of repercussion, Tres tristes tigres -TTT, as he called it-, which was originally called Ella cantaba boleros. It was a version, remarkably retouched, of his previous work View of the sunrise in the tropics (Biblioteca Breve 1964 award by Seix Barral). It is characterized by the ingenious use of language introducing Cuban colloquialisms and constant winks and references to other literary works. It recounts the nightlife of three young people in Havana in 1958. In Cuba, the work was branded as a counterrevolutionary and Cabrera, expelled from the Union of Writers and Artists, was described as a traitor. Relentless critic of the Castro regime, he never returned to Cuba and refused to have his works Tres tristes tigres and Havana for a deceased infant published in the editorial line of emigrants of the Ministry of Culture.

At the beginning of the 1970s he settled in Hollywood to dedicate himself to the world of cinema as a screenwriter, with discreet success. He worked for the film Under the Volcano, by John Huston, based on the novel by Malcolm Lowry. Two years later, he collaborated closely with the Latin American literature researcher and translator Suzanne Jill Levine, who, along with Donald Gardner, translated Tres tristes tigres, which was published under the title of Three Trapped Tigers. In 1979 he obtained British citizenship. That same year he published his second most recognized work, the autobiographical novel Havana for a deceased infant.

He won the Cervantes Prize in 1997 and in 2003, the International of the Cristóbal Gabarrón Foundation in the Literature category.

Of delicate health in his last years, he was admitted to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London due to a hip fracture. There he contracted a septicemia for which he died on February 21, 2005. The news of his death was not collected in Cuba.

His style is characterized by the continuous puns, paronomasias, witticisms, use of hyperbaton and idiomatic translations, with which he tries to imitate the syncopated rhythm of jazz; for the mastery of the colloquial registers of the Cuban language, for a splendid sense of humor and for a great culture, he manifests in the abundant intertextuality of his texts.

By virtue of these attributes, the critic Enrico Mario Santí came to declare that Cabrera Infante embodied, like no other writer, the literary style of the Cuban nation, since his sense of humor, the Cuban “choteo”, reflected a This way of being deeply rooted in the literature and life of the island, Fernando Savater has alluded to this characteristic of his work: “Guillermo Cabrera Infante has cultivated in the highest degree the comic feeling of life: but not as opposed to the tragic feeling, but as a variant that aggravates it by purifying it of the superfluous pathos of seriousness. “

He is also the author of visual poems. Its influence is visible in the work of authors of other generations, such as in La Guaracha del Macho Camacho by Puerto Rican Luis Rafael Sánchez or in Última rumba en La Habana by Cuban Fernando Velázquez Medina.

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