This book explores Sartre's engagement with the Cuban Revolution.
In early 1960 Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir accepted the invitation to visit Cuba and to report on the revolution. They arrived during the carnival in a land bursting with revolutionary activity. They visited Che Guevara, head of the National Bank. They toured the island with Fidel Castro. They met ministers, journalists, students, writers, artists, dockers and agricultural workers. Sartre spoke at the University of Havana.
Sartre later published his Cuba reports in France-Soir.
Sartre endorsed the Cuban Revolution. He made clear his political identification. He opposed colonialism. He saw the US as colonial in Cuban affairs from 1898. He supported Fidel Castro. He supported the agrarian reform. He supported the revolution.
His Cuba accounts have been maligned, ignored and understudied.
They have been denounced as blind praise of Castro, 'unabashed propaganda.' They have been criticised for 'clichés,' 'panegyric' and 'analytical superficiality.' They have been called 'crazy' and 'incomprehensible.' Sartre was called naïve. He was rebuked as a fellow traveller. He was, in the words of Cuban author Guillermo Cabrera Infante, duped by 'Chic Guevara.'
This book explores these accusations. Were Sartre's Cuba texts propaganda? Are they blind praise? Was he naïve? Had he been deceived by Castro? Had he deceived his readers? Was he obligated to Castro or to the Revolution?
He later buried the reports, and abandoned a separate Cuba book. His relationship with Castro later turned sour.
What is the impact of Cuba on Sartre and of Sartre on Cuba?
William Rowlandson is Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at the University of Kent, UK. Previous publications include Imaginal Landscapes (2015), Borges, Swedenborg and Mysticism (2013), critical edition of Biografía de un cimarrón (2010), Reading Lezama's 'Paradiso' (2007).
'You have no right to ignore the Cuban Revolution.'.- Hurricane over Sugar.- 'We are living in the fashionable district.'.- 'mon pauvre ami, in Latin America they have revolutions every year: it's their way of voting.'.- 'No sugar, no island.'.- 'Castro is not an easy man to wrap up.'.- 'Revolution is strong medicine.'.- 'The contrecoup of the Agrarian Reform was the revolt of Matos and his garrison.'.- 'Guevara was the most cultivated and, after Castro, one of the most lucid minds of the revolution.'.- 'Literature is a fight, a position.'.- Palabras a los intelectuales.- 'Sartre preaches revolution'.- 'You don't arrest and jail those who disagree with you.'.- 'Sartre's self-imposed role was not simply to announce his stand but to reveal Cuba.'.- 'Sartre very soon condemned the worst aspects of Castrism. The Cuban fiesta was over, his eyes were rapidly opened.'.- 'Man is capable of changing the conditions of his life. But he cannot change whatever he wishes and however he wishes; indeed, only by changing himself can he change objective needs.'