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Generales y Doctores - After Forty-Five Years

  • J. Riis Owre (a1)

Extract

One of cuba's most important works of prose fiction, Loveira's Generales y doctores, after more than four decades of neglect, has at last had a second edition. It is a work of tremendous social significance, which today needs re-evaluation. But such re-evaluation had best be done outside Cuba. In that unhappy isle, critics now tend to interpret Loveira as an “anti-imperialist” or as a strange kind of “pre-communist.” Roberto Branly's review of the new edition of the work in Pueblo y cultura (No. 14 [1963], pp. 19-23) is illustrated with photographs which convey the idea of a work hostile to the United States: the battleship Maine, the author of the Piatt Amendment, a picture entitled “Generales y doctores en plena faena … el General Wood y sus secretarios del Despacho”.

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1 The first edition was that of Habana, Sociedad Editorial Cuba Contemporánea, 1920. The second is that of the Consejo Nacional de Cultura, Habana, 1962. The present writer, in collaboration with S. M. Bryant, has published a somewhat shortened text edition of the novel (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965). References in this article are to the first edition.

2 See Loveira's first book, De los 26 a los 35: Lecciones de la lucha obrera (Washington, D.C.: The Law Reporter Co., 1917), pp. 30, 38.

3 See Loveira's article “Un gran ensayista cubano: Fernando Lles”, Anales de la Academia Nacional de Artes y Letras (Habana), X (1926), 59.

4 The doctorado (doctorate) of the University of Havana is the Cuban professional license. The lawyer is a Doctor en Leyes (or Derecho), the physician a Doctor en Medicina, the pharmacist a Doctor en Farmacia, etc.

5 Los inmorales (Habana: Sociedad Editorial Cuba Contemporánea, 1919), pp. 12, 284.

6 Los ciegos (Habana: Sociedad Editorial Cuba Contemporánea, 1922), pp. 380-381.

7 Juan Criollo, Ed. Carlos Ripoll (New York: Las Américas Publishing Co., 1964), pp. 392, 409.

8 Primelles, León, Crónica cubana, 1915-1918 (Habana: Ed. Lex, 1955). Salvador de Madariaga traces the struggle between the two groups back to early colonial times, when the virreyes, usually hombres de capa y espada, represented the purely military and unintellectual tradition of the conquistador, while the cabildos were made up of hombres de toga, either lawyers or clerics, who incarnated the authoritarian and ; legalistic tradition of the church. See El auge del imperio español en América (Buenos Aires: Ed. Sudamericana, 1955), pp. 131-133.

9 Guerra, Ramiro y Sánchez, , et al, Historia de la nación cubana, vol. VIII (Habana, 1952), p. 331.

10 There is no town of this name in Cuba. Probably Loveira is using as his scene the town of Placetas, which would fit the story well.

11 Loveira often gives specific dates for events in his novels.

12 At this time many Cuban families sought refuge in New York or Tampa, to escape the infamous Reconcentración policy of the Spanish general Valeriano Weyler, and also to avoid the rigors of life in an area of active revolt. Our author himself was Ihere, with a family who had taken him into their home when his mother died. Much of the description of life among the Cuban colony in New York must 6come from the author's own experience, and some details can be verified from The New York Times and other newspapers of the day.

13 Juan Criollo, p. 423.

14 Anales de la Academia Nacional de Artes y Letras (Habana), X (1926), 80.

15 See above, note 2.

16 See above, note 5.

17 Los ciegos. (See above, note 6.)

18 Review of Generales y doctores in Cuba Contemporánea, XXXVI, núm. 102 (June 1921), 184.

19 Quoted in the end-papers of Los ciegos, p. 452.

20 Generales y doctores, pp. 384-385. The reference is to José Maza y Artola (1867-1939), a distinguished Cuban statesman.

21 Guerra y Sánchez, Historia, VIII, 340-341.

22 Indice critico de la literatura hispanoamericana: II, La narrativa (México: Ed. Guaranía, 1959), p. 208.

23 The Military and Society in Latin America (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1964), p. 159.

24 Op. cit., pp. 183-184. (See above, note 18.) The political campaign was that of the president, General Mario García Menocal, for re-election. This was one of the most violent and confused periods in Cuban history. The elections finally had to be supervised by a U.S. referee, invalidated, and repeated. Those interested should consult Riera, Mariano, Cuba política, 1899-1955 (Habana: 1955), pp. 257291 ; and Chapman, Charles E., A History of the Cuban Republic (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1927), ch. XVII.

25 Arturo Montori, “Las novelas de Carlos Loveira”, Cuba Contemporánea, XXX, núm 119 (noviembre 1922), 219; and Spell, Jefferson Rhea, Contemporary Spanish-American Fiction (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1944), p. 109.

26 Diario de la Marina (Habana), October 26, 1920.

27 Calbó, Gay, op cit., p. 185. Marcel Pogolotti confirmed this more recently, applying it to Loveira's work generally: “En las novelas de Loveira … la identidad entre algunos protagonistas y conocidas personalidades reales es claramente perceptible”. See La República de Cuba al través de sus escritores (Habana: Ed. Lex, 1958), p. 57.

28 See Primelles, León, Crónica cubana: 1919-1922 (Habana: Ed. Lex, 1957), pp. 376377 et passim.

29 Aramburu complains that Generales y doctores has “una sola mancha: la persistencia en alusiones crueles contra Don Carlos Manuel de Amézaga, que es un venerable anciano de talento grande … realmente un orador insuperable”. (Aramburu, op. cit.) A Cuban friend of the present writer remembers seeing Montoro exactly as Amézaga is described: “Ahora, al ir rumbo a la Secretaría, pasamos por el vetusto Palacio de los Capitanes Generales. Se pone paralelo al nuestro un automóvil, obispal por lo grave y majestuoso. En una pachecal efigie con lentes, de barba gris cerrada que resalta en las oscuras y blandas interioridades del auto, reconozco a Carlos Manuel de Amézaga”. (Generales y doctores, pp. 330-331.)

30 Social (Habana), V, núm. 2 (diciembre 1920), 23.

31 “La expedición” in Cuba Contemporánea, XXII, núm. 8 (April 1920), 357-371; “Los emigrados” in Social, V, núm. 2 (February 1920), 28 ff.; and “Cuba libre” in the same review, V, núm 12 (December 1920), 24 ff. I suspect that other chapters or brief selections were published in other periodicals (such as El Fígaro) which I have not been able to consult

32 Apparently these are for the most part newspaper notices (most of them not available to me), and of course unfavorable comments would not be included. The bombo is a great institution!

33 González, Manuel Pedro, “La literatura de hoy: Carlos Loveira”, Revista de Estudios Hispánicos (San Juan, Puerto Rico), II, núm. 1 (enero-marzo 1929), p. 188.

34 Op. cit., p. 108.

35 One should also recall the perceptive judgment of Juan J. Remos: “Termina la novela con un vibrante capítulo que es una admirable síntesis de los grandes errores políticos y administrativos que sufría la República en la época en que el autor escribía la obra”. See Juan Remos, J. y Rubio, , Historia de la literatura cubana (Habana: Cárdenas y Cía., 1945), III, 304.

36 Carlos Loveira was of course not the only novelist who attempted a diagnosis of Cuba's ills; he was merely the most perceptive. See also de Carrion, Miguel, Las Impuras (Habana, 1919); and Ramos, José Antonio, Las impurezas de la realidad (Habana, 1920). Also of interest are Ramos' Manual del perfecto fulanista (Habana, 1916); Trelles, Carlos M., El Progreso (1902 a 1905) y el retroceso (1906 a 1922) de la República de Cuba (Matanzas, 1923); and Ortiz, Fernando, La decadencia cubana (Habana, 1924).

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