New Book: Mayra Montero on Her New Novel “El caballero de San Petersburgo”

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Mayra Montero, a Cuban writer who has been based in Puerto Rico for 40 years, laments being known for her erotic literature, which she finds unfair because she has only published two novels in that genre—La última noche que pasé contigo and Púrpura profundo—while she has published quite a few novels on love and historical topics. She has just published El caballero de San Petersburgo [The Knight of St. Petersburg] (just released by Tusquets) which centers on General Francisco de Miranda, the precursor of American independence. She discusses her novel with EFE; here are excerpts translated from the Spanish-language original:

The writer has found that, historically, there is “some prejudice against Miranda,” especially in young soldiers who carried out the fight for independence, who perhaps considered him a dilettante because of his cosmopolitan airs, passion for culture, his love of books, and the fact that he mastered various languages.

She regrets that the protagonist of her new novel, the historic General Miranda, is virtually unknown in the Americas, except in Venezuela, a situation which she attributes to the fact that he has disagreements with Bolívar and “history condemned him to invisibility.”

mayramontero_1Montero says that, with this novel, which she defines as a “love story,” she is not vindicating the figure of Miranda, by whom she was fascinated and who she considers to be “the first internationalist combatant” of history, who, as well as fighting for the emancipation of [many of the now Latin American] countries, fought for the independence of the United States and the French Revolution.

Miranda, who was a friend of Catherine the Great and Potemkin, also spent a few years in Russia, where Montero choose to set her novel; she includes other historical figures such as Spanish diplomat Pedro Macanaz, an agent of the Crown who tried to capture him.

The idea that a young Cuban Creole woman, who was seduced by Miranda, was living in Russia was not unusual at that time, according to the writer, who documented that, for example, the wife of Miranda’s Russian host was also Spanish.

Montero, who bases Miranda’s Russian adventure on the general’s extensive diaries, assures [her readers] that his amorous, political, and military adventures were such that he had to be careful because “reality takes over” and there are situations that may seem unlikely, although they were historically true. [. . .]

For full article (in Spanish), see http://www.elnuevodia.com/mayramonteroescribenovelahistorica-1711113.html

For more information on the novel, see http://www.tusquetseditores.com/titulos/andanzas-el-caballero-de-san-petersburgo

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