Antislavery Narratives

William Luis

in Latin American Studies

ISBN: 9780199766581
Published online October 2011 | | DOI:
Antislavery Narratives

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  • History of the Americas


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The antislavery narratives refer to a group of works written in Cuba during the late 1830s under the tutelage of Domingo del Monte, Cuba’s most important literary promoter of the century. A member of the prestigious Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País, Del Monte daringly proposed an Academia Cubana de Literatura, which Spain’s maximum colonial authority in Cuba, Captain General Tacón, suppressed. Instead, Del Monte organized a literary circle from his home, first in Matanzas and later in Havana, where he shared his voluminous library with writer friends and instructed them to write a Cuban-style literature that included, for the first time, the black slave. The antislavery works did not promote violence. Rather, they engaged the reader to question the brutal slavery system and side not with the white master but with the defenseless black slave. These works include those by slave poet Juan Francisco Manzano’s Autobiografía (written in 1835); Anselmo Suárez y Romero’s novel Francisco (written in 1839); Félix Tanco y Bosmeniel’s short stories Escenas de la vida privada en la Isla de Cuba (written in 1838); and Cirilo Villaverde’s Cecilia Valdés (the original edition was written in 1839; the definitive edition was completed in 1882). Though mild by today’s standards, the antislavery narratives could not be published in Cuba during the time of writing and represented a threat to the island’s sugarocracy. To these works we add Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda’s Sab (1841). She was not a member of the Del Monte circle, but while living in Spain she wrote a novel with antislavery sentiments.

Article.  7077 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies ; History of the Americas

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