Tres Escritores de la "Generacion del Mariel" y el Canon Literario Cubano: Reinaldo, Arenas, Carlos Victoria y Guillermo Rosales
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This dissertation focuses on the representation of Cuban identity in three works by authors of the so called “Mariel Generation”: Reinaldo Arenas’ Necesidad de libertad (1986), Carlos Victoria’s La travesía secreta (1994), and Guillermo Rosales’ Boarding Home (1987). These texts explore the place of the so-called marielito writers as intellectuals within Cuban literature and the way in which their literary work reaffirms the primary aims of the Mariel literary magazine (published between 1983 and 1985): namely, the reconstruction and re-articulation of Cuban national identity in the exile community. These writers’ strategies are studied in order to reveal, first, how they make use of the first-person narrator in order to distance themselves from the negative image of the marielitos; second, how they establish themselves as respected writers both inside and outside of the “Mariel Generation” and within Cuban literature in general; and third, how they search for, and establish, an alternative national identity. The first chapter studies Arenas’ fiction within the context of Cuban “testimonio” (a genre officially sanctioned by the Cuban regime) to examine to what extent Arenas uses and subverts its rhetoric to create his own alternative “testimonio,” one that will position him within a reconstituted Cuban canon. The second and third chapters examine how Carlos Victoria and Guillermo Rosales make use of “self-fiction” to become visible. Victoria opposes the formal experimentation embraced by Arenas and instead turns to more traditional “realism.” Nevertheless, Victoria shares with Arenas the representation of José Martí as the human being who suffered in exile rather than the Martí officially portrayed as the hero of Cuban nationalism. The use of Martí in their fiction is a strategy that allows them to situate themselves in the rewriting of the Cuban canon. In contrast, Rosales uses “self-fiction” not as a means to restore Cuban tradition and identity but rather to show the impossibility of establishing a cohesive identity in exile. For these three “Mariel” writers, literature became both a political weapon and a means of portraying personal suffering. In their search for an identity in exile, they approached so called “cubanidad” as a cultural artifact both put into question and recreated through fiction.