A new compilation of texts from the vast work of José Martí casts doubt on whether the Cuban poet and politician was truly a “revolutionary”, but rather a Hispanic “deeply American that exalts the “American constitution. This is the vision of the compiler Néstor Díaz de Villegas, who is about to present a new book where he presents his arguments.
“United States in the prose of an immigrant. José Martí”, edited by Vintage Español, which will be presented in Miami (Florida) on September 10, also discovers a Martí (1853-1895) who anticipates “the broadband of the modern Internet user”, to an “‘influencer’ and a creator of memes”.
“The book gives an idea of the area of Cuban influence in the 19th century. The Cuban can look towards Latin America, but our tendency is towards the north. The vector is Havana / New York, not Havana / Caracas or Havana / Santiago “Diaz de Villegas tells the EFE agency, who will present the volume in person at the Miami Books & Books bookstore.
Néstor Díaz de Villegas, author of the new biography of José Martí. “Photo: EFE
Los Angeles-based essayist, poet, blogger and film critic, Díaz de Villegas, whose blog “NDDV”, according to Vintage Español, “has been celebrated as one of the best literary blogs in Latin America,” says that ” There is a lot of interest lately in presenting Martí in different ways. “
“Each Martí, each Martí anthology responds to the compiler’s particular taste. We have many points of view“, refers to who is considered the” initiator of Latin American literary modernism, “according to Vintage Español.
But it is also a new approach to a thinker and activist of his time who died young, at the age of 42, on top of a steed – a military inexperienced, some say – while fighting a battle for the independence of Cuba of the Spanish.
A man whose vast work was interpreted in different ways by the communist regime of the island and by exile.
The work is made up of two parts: the first includes articles by Martí that analyze and evaluate the same contemporary events as events in the history of the United States.
The second part is a selection of daily articles on “history, letters, biography, curiosities and science” that Martí wrote for the “Constant Section” of the newspaper The nation, from Caracas, between 1881 and 1882.
The volume is part of a saga commissioned by Vintage Español, a division of the publishing conglomerate Penguin Random House, which set out to publish great Latin American classics such as the Uruguayan Horacio Quiroga and the also Cuban Alejo Carpentier.
“Why don’t we get into other things about Martí?” He says he asked the editor, Cristóbal Pera.
“I proposed a series of texts outside the traditional line: Martí makes a tremendous exaltation of the American constitution, makes an analysis of the American confederation, “he says.
“The Civil War has been distorted and Martí is there to give us a great overview of those things; he is not in the Civil War, but in subsequent discussions. He is in (what happened with) the bombs in Chicago (in 1886)” he adds.
According to Díaz de Villegas, who after 37 years of exile in the United States returned to the Caribbean island in 2016 moved by a “climate of détente” to take notes and then publish the book of chronicles “From where are the worms”, his new compilation proposes a moral.
“Was Martí really a revolutionary? Is he definitively circumscribed to a revolutionary Martí, or do we see the opposite, in the sense that his defense of the American constitution is opposed to any revolution?”
In his chronicles, “Martí defends an America that is not the one we know, defends North America as his homeland and the place where he lives, threatened by anarchist German immigrants,” says the Cuban in reference to the Chicago events known as the Revolt Haymarket and that ultimately led to May 1, International Workers’ Day.
“One of the seven, married to a mulatto woman who does not cry, is an American, and the brother of an army general; the others have brought their chests from Germany loaded with hatred,” Martí writes in his article “The trial of the seven anarchists from Chicago”.
“Marti opposes this anarchy, asks to be hanged,” says the compiler.
Forerunner of bloggers
In his introduction, Díaz de Villegas states that, to write about Americans from New York, where he lived for 15 years, Martí used the office, the epistle, and the scene.
“The thematic fragmentation relates it – skipping a century and a half of history – with the modern blogger,” he reveals.
To conceive the new volume, Díaz de Villegas immersed himself in the 1975 Cuban edition of the Complete Works of José Martí, published by the Social Sciences Publishing House.
The second part of the book, he explains, serves the purpose of “teaching people how to do” a blog and social media post.
“Martí posted, talked about fashion things, the effects of electric light on growing plants … junk content to which he gave daily literary and philosophical dimension,” he said.
“For some reason – Díaz de Villegas laments – Martí is relatively unknown and little appreciated in the United States” and is not taken into account in the high North American culture.
“José Martí, the modernist, invented a new language to communicate an increasingly dizzying current affairs. He was cultured and sensationalist, melodramatic and telegraphic, anticipating the broadband of the modern Internet user. His teachers were Baltasar Gracián, Búfalo Bill and Oscar Wilde” , wrote Díaz de Villegas before stating: “Martí is a New Yorker.”