Writer Alejo Carpentier’s House Becomes National Heritage

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A report from TeleSur.

Cuba’s Minister of Culture Abel Prieto signed the decree making writer Alejo Carpentier’s house a National Heritage.

The Cuban government has bestowed the title National Heritage upon the house where renowned Cuban writer, poet and playwright Alejo Carpentier and his late widow, Lilia Esteban de Carpentier lived. It guarantees that the couple’s personal belongings and objects will also be preserved.

Abel Prieto, Cuba’s Minister of Culture, signed the decree making the status official. The house, which also serves as the headquarters of the Alejo Carpentier Foundation, contains Carpentier’s personal library, writer’s stationary, typewriter, travel memoirs and handwritten notes of a series of poems based on jazz, spirituals and the blues.

Though born in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1904, Carpentier, who was taken to Cuba as an infant, always claimed he was Cuban-born. Apart from his literary prowess, he also explored Afro-Cuban artistic styles, incorporating them into music, dance and theatre. He was also credited with “universalizing” Latin American history and personalities, according to Granma.

A precursor of the literary style known as “magic realism,” Carpentier’s work is said to have influenced younger writers in the region such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Apart from his literary portfolio, Carpentier also wrote several opera librettos and ballets based on Afro-Cuban themes. He became the first person from Latin America to receive the prestigious Cervantes Prize in 1977.

Having lived in Paris and Caracas in the 1930s and 1040s respectively, Carpentier would finally return to Havana in 1959 amid the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. He would serve as a Cuban diplomat in Paris, France from the mid-1960s until his death in 1980.

One of the rooms exhibits a chronological sample of Carpentier’s prolific literary and journalistic work, recognized for “universalizing” Latin American history and personalities, and for introducing “in an unparalleled artistic way the black heritage,” states the state newspaper Granma. Some of his major literary works include: The Kingdom of this World; Explosion in a Cathedral; and Praised Be the Lord.

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