Alejo Carpentier

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Alejo Carpentier
Born(1904-12-26)December 26, 1904
Lausanne, Switzerland
DiedApril 24, 1980(1980-04-24) (aged 75)
Paris, France
Resting placeColon Cemetery, Havana
Notable worksEl reino de este mundo

Alejo Carpentier y Valmont (December 26, 1904 – April 24, 1980) was a Cuban novelist, essayist, and musicologist. He greatly influenced Latin American literature during its famous "boom" period. Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, Carpentier grew up in Havana, Cuba and Paris. Carpentier always said he was Cuban. He traveled a lot, mostly in France, and to Mexico. He sided with revolutionary movements, such as Fidel Castro's Communist Revolution in Cuba in the mid-century. Carpentier was jailed and exiled for his leftist political philosophies.

Carpentier studied and understood music. He wrote a book La música en Cuba in the music of Cuba. He put in musical themes and literary techniques in his writing. Although Carpentier wrote many types of writing, such as journalism, radio drama, playwrighting, academic essays, opera and libretto, he is best known for his novels. He was among the first to use magical realism. He explored the fantastic quality of Latin American history and culture.

Carpentier's writing style used the Baroque style which had become popular again. It was called New World Baroque. It was a style that Latin American artists took from the European model. Carpentier also brought the Surrealist theory to Latin American literature. Carpentier had parts of Latin American political history, music, social injustice and art in his writings. His writing influenced younger Latin American and Cuban writers like Lisandro Otero, Leonardo Padura and Fernando Velázquez Medina.

Carpentier died of cancer in Paris in 1980. He was buried in Havana's Colon Cemetery.

Major works[change | change source]

Carpentier's major works include:

  • Ecue-yamba-o! (1933)
  • La música en Cuba (1946) (The Music of Cuba), an ethno-musicological study of Cuba starting from the sixteenth century, the arrival of European explorers, till the present day of publication, the mid twentieth century.
  • El reino de este mundo (1949) (The Kingdom of this World)
  • Los pasos perdidos (1953) (The Lost Steps)
  • El acoso (1956) (Manhunt)
  • Guerra del tiempo (1958) (War of Time)
  • El siglo de las luces (1962) (Explosion in a Cathedral)
  • El Recurso del método (1974) (Reasons of State)
  • Concierto barroco (1974) (Concierto barroco; English: Baroque Concert), based on the 1709 meeting of Vivaldi, Handel and Domenico Scarlatti, with cameo appearances by Wagner and Stravinsky, and fictional characters from the new world who inspire the Venetian composer's opera, Motezuma.
  • La consagración de la primavera (1978) (The Rite of Spring; Le Sacre du Printemps, ballet by Igor Stravinsky)
  • El arpa y la sombra (1978) (The Harp and the Shadow) dealing with Columbus.