George Lamming in Cuba

This month (May 2011) leading Barbadian writer George Lamming has conducted an intensive cycle of lectures coordinated by the Ministry of Culture of Cuba and prominent intellectual institutions in Havana such a the University of Havana and Casa de las Américas. [Also see previous post George Lamming (Barbados, 1927).]

On May 5, he made a friendly visit to the Casa de las Américas, where he was received by the poet and essayist Roberto Fernández Retamar, President of Casa de las Américas. This brief meeting preceded his public presentation on May 10 at the respected institution.

Among other presentations and discussions, Lamming spoke at the University of Havana on May 12, where he was introduced by Dr. José Antonio Baujín Pérez to an audience of professors, students, and other admirers of his work. Starting with the concepts delineated by Frederic Jameson in “Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism,” he used examples from an array of European novels and compared their form to a series of Caribbean works, including his own literary trajectory, to explain the ways in which he coincided and disagreed with the literary critic. Although the author announced that this would be an “informal conversation,” Lamming’s discursive legerdemain, breadth of knowledge, and wit made for a powerful and utterly fascinating presentation, which was received by an endless round of applause.

 During this visit at Casa, Lamming explained that, among other objectives, his stay in the island responds to the development of a special issue of BIM, the Barbados-based Caribbean journal that he is directing in its new format [see previous post BIM: Arts for the 21st Century.] He explained that the forthcoming edition of the journal, which will be dedicated to Cuba, is attempting to establish a route linking the ideas of 19th and early 20th century Cuban thinkers―Varela, Martí, and Ortiz― to the current scene in Cuban arts, literature, and thought, including the world of science. In this regard, Lamming requested the collaboration of Casa de las Américas for the realization of this special issue. Fernández Retamar, in turn, has invited him to collaborate with the 264th issue of the journal Casa―organized under the title “De nuevo África en América” [Africa in the Americas, Again], evoking the issue published in the sixties―which is part of Casa’s contribution for the International Year for People of African Descent.

Links between the prestigious Barbadian intellectual and Casa de las Américas date back to the 1970s and continue today. He has served as advisor to the Center of Caribbean Studies (Centro de Estudios del Caribe-CEC) and as part of the jury for the Casa Award in the first edition for Anglo-Caribbean literature in 1976. In fact, his work was essential for the inclusion of Caribbean literature in the contest and greatly helped to delineate the CEC (founded in 1979).  

El Fondo Editorial Casa de las Américas has published the Spanish language versions of In the Castle of My Skin [En el castillo de mi piel] and The Pleasures of Exile [Los placeres del exilio] in its series dedicated to Latin American and Caribbean classics. In 2007 Casa paid tribute to the Barbadian author on the occasion of his eightieth birthday.

For full article (in Spanish), see http://laventana.casa.cult.cu/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=6147

Photo of Roberto Fernández Retamar and George Lamming from http://www.cubarte.cult.cu/periodico/otros-medios/george-lamming-%E2%80%9Cel-caribe-es-una-casa%E2%80%9D/18363.html

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