Updated 2 months, 2 weeks ago

50 years since Paradiso was published

Published in the Caribbean island 50 years ago, in 1966, but whose first chapter was published with the same name in the magazine Origen, in the summer number of 1949, Paradiso "is not a simple or popular work, so it was, is and will continue to be misunderstood, "says Sergio Ugalde, specialist in Cuban literature.

"You simply cannnot access it immediately, you have to develop strategies of approach, published half a century ago, but its wording goes back almost two decades, which speaks of the importance and the work that the writer put in this work" In an interview the researcher and professor of the UNAM.

After recalling these dates, the Cuban philosopher and historian Rafael Rojas explains that this commitment to an armed narrative based on neobarroca poetry, in Lezama, is prior to the boom of the Latin American novel.

"Perhaps because of that, and because of belonging to an earlier generation, the narrators of the boom (Cortázar, Vargas Llosa, García Márquez ...) saw him as a precursor, like Juan Rulfo or Alejo Carpentier," he adds.

The CIDE researcher points out that Lezama "came to the novel from poetry or, more accurately, from a literary poetry based on a kind of philosophy of the image that he called" poetic system. "Both in Paradiso and in his saga Oppiano Licario, he tried to bring to fiction some notions of that" system "that we read in the essays that compose the volume Analecta del reloj (1953).

"Lezama always saw his incursion into narrative as part of a literary project in which genres, novels, poetry or essays were projections of a personal theory of metaphor," adds the essayist.

Ugalde clarifies on the other hand that Paradiso is not the first narrative exercise of Lezama. "As a narrator begins in the 1930s. The stories were his first approximations to the narrative. But the essayist Lezama, poet, thinker, narrator, is represented reliably in Paradiso, which does not arise in a short time, mature with the In which an emblematic project is concentrated, it is the sum of its literary commitment ", says the graduate in Latin American Studies.

Paradiso, now considered a masterpiece and one of the most important and innovative in the Spanish language, was at the time involved in a strong controversy and withdrawal from Cuban bookstores.

The novel that narrates the formation of the poet Jose Cemi Olaya, from his childhood to his university years, and the history of his family, did not like the good consciences of the island for its erotic character. For this reason, with exceptions like Cintio Vitier or Alejo Carpentier, the official criticism accused her of hermetic, morbid and pornographic, especially by its homoerotic passages.

"In the rejection of Cuban cultural policy to Lezama, between the 60s and 70s, almost all the springs of totalitarianism came together: atheism, homophobia, machismo, anti-intellectualism and, of course, demand for a realistic, compromised or propagandistic aesthetic of the model of society that was then built in Cuba, "says Rafael Rojas.