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Chapter 16 - “Un Híbrido de Halcón y Jicotea”

Testimonio and Its Challenge to the Latin American Literary Canon

from Part IV - Aesthetics and Innovation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 January 2023

Amanda Holmes
Affiliation:
McGill University, Montréal
Par Kumaraswami
Affiliation:
University of Reading
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Summary

This chapter examines the tensions between the supporters of two modes of writing Latin America – magical realism and testimonial writing – under the lens of the figures of the falcon and the tortoise, a simile employed by one of Cuba’s first and most prominent theorists of testimonio, Miguel Barnet. It explores how the hybrid mode of testimonio was conceptualized in the first two decades of the 1959 Cuban Revolution and, more generally, in Latin America, and how these concepts presented a challenge to the literary establishment in Latin America and beyond. Through examining the key positioning of Cuban testimonio in the first two decades of the Cuban Revolution, the chapter argues that the role assigned to testimonio in these early conceptual formulations shared many commonalities with the aims of magical realism, but also some important differences based on positionality and power. As such, the schism of 1971 represented not only a political fracture between Cuba and some Latin American nations but also a tipping point, or moment of transition, in terms of Latin American literatures’ potential in the world.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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References

Works Cited

Barnet, Miguel. “La novela testimonio: Alquimia de la memoria,” La Palabra y el Hombre 82 (1992): 7578.Google Scholar
Barnet, MiguelLa novela testimonio: Socio-literatura.” La fuente viva, 1242. Havana: Editorial Letras Cubanas, 1983.Google Scholar
Barnet, Miguel Biografía de un cimarrón. Havana: Academia de Ciencias de Cuba/Instituto de Etnología y Folklore, 1966.Google Scholar
Benedetti, Mario. El escritor latinoamericano y la revolución posible. Buenos Aires: Editorial Alfa Argentina, 1974.Google Scholar
Benedetti, Mario. “Situación actual de la cultura cubana.” In Literatura y arte nuevo en Cuba. Barnet, Miguel et al., pp. 732. Barcelona: Editorial Estela, 1971.Google Scholar
Beverley, J.The Margin at the Center: On Testimonio (Testimonial Narrative).” In The Real Thing: Testimonial Discourse and Latin America. Ed. Gugelberger, G., pp. 2341. Durham, NC : Duke University Press, 1996.Google Scholar
Casal, Lourdes. “Literature.” In Revolutionary Change in Cuba. Ed. Mesa-Lago, C., pp. 447469. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1971.Google Scholar
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González de Cascorro, Raúl. “El género Testimonio en Cuba,” Unión 4 (December 1978): 7389.Google Scholar
Gugelberger, G. M., ed. The Real Thing: Testimonial Discourse and Latin America. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996.Google Scholar
Los intelectuales extranjeros: Declaración del Primer Congreso Nacional de Educación y Cultura, 30 de abril de 1971.” In Mon Informe secreto sobre la Revolución cubana. Ed. Montaner, C. A., pp. 147153. Madrid: Ediciones Sedmay, 1971.Google Scholar
Portuondo, José Antonio. Estética y Revolución. Havana: Ediciones Unión (Ensayo), 1963.Google Scholar
Retamar, Fernández. “Vanguardia artística, subdesarrollo y revolución.” In Estética y marxismo. Ed. Vásquez, Adolfo Sánchez, Tomo, II, pp. 333342. Mexico City: Ediciones Era, 1970.Google Scholar
Sklodowska, Elzbieta. “Spanish American Testimonial Novel: Some Afterthoughts.” In The Real Thing: Testimonial Discourse and Latin America. Ed. Gugelberger, G., pp. 84100. Durham, NC : Duke University Press, 1996.Google Scholar
Sklodowska, Elzbieta “La visión de la gente sin historia en las novelas testimoniales de Miguel Barnet” (PhD thesis), Washington University, 1983, p. 5.Google Scholar

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