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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