Issue 80, Summer 1981
Reinaldo Arenas was born in HolguÍn, Cuba, in 1943. The youngest of a group of brilliant writers that developed in the Revolution (Reynaldo González, Miguel Barnet, Nancy MorejÓn), he is the author of three novels and a collection of stories. He came to the United States in the spring of 1980 with the refugees who left the island in the Mariel boatlift after the notorious incident at the Peruvian Embassy in Havana. “The Parade Ends, “which focuses on that incident, is Arenas’s first story in exile.
In the middle-to-late sixties Arenas seemed destined to become the first great writer produced by the Revolution, although there was obviously resistance to acknowledge him on the part of some cultural bureaucrats. He had come to Havana untutored and wishing to study planning. He soon joined the circle of writers who had belonged to the OrÍgenes group: José Lezama Lima, Eliseo Diego, Cintio Vitier and Virgilio Pinera. OrÍgenes was an influential literary journal based in Havana during the forties and early fifties, edited by Lezama Lima and José RodrÍguez Feo. This group, though not actively committed to the Revolution (many were Catholics and did not subscribe to the government’s puritanical rhetoric), remained in Cuba. Several were given jobs at the Union of Writers, others in the National Library. A few became internationally known after the Revolution (particularly Lezama), though they always chose or were forced to remain out of the limelight. Arenas also worked at the Library and he too failed to surface even when accepted Cuban critics like Salvador Bueno praised his second novel. El mundo alucinante, published in Mexico. He did not become involved in any of the politico-literary imbroglios. No one mentioned him during the two “Padilla Affairs,’’ and his signature does not appear in the letter that Cuban intellectuals sent to Pablo Neruda chastising him for visiting the United States to attend a P.E.N. Club meeting in 1968. El mundo alucinante was making Arenas famous abroad when news trickled out of Cuba that he had been jailed on a morals charge. In a recent interview with Enrico Mario Santí, Arenas denies the validity of the charges. After a little over a year in jail, Arenas spent the seventies in obscurity in Cuba, though elsewhere he was considered as one of the best young Latin American writers. The title of this story refers to an earlier story by Arenas, “The Parade Begins, ” in which the victorious rebels enter town after the fall of Batista. It will be interesting to observe how Arenas’s work develops after the separation of exile. “The Parade Ends’’ augurs well.
The title of this story refers to an earlier story by Arenas, “The Parade Begins,” in which the victorious rebels enter town after the fall of Batista. It will be interesting to observe how Arenas’s work develops after the separation of exile. “The Parade Ends’’ augurs well.