Guillermo Cabrera Infante : biography
Guillermo Cabrera Infante ( 22 April 1929 – 21 February 2005) was a Cuban novelist, essayist, translator, screenwriter, and critic; in the 1950s he used the pseudonym G. Caín.
A one-time supporter of the Castro regime, Cabrera Infante went into exile to London in 1965. He is best known for the novel Tres Tristes Tigres (literally "three sad tigers", but published in English as Three Trapped Tigers), which has been compared favorably to James Joyce’s Ulysses.
Born in Gibara in Cuba’s former Oriente Province (now part of Holguín Province), in 1941 he moved with his parents, to Havana, which would be the setting of nearly all of his writings other than his critical works. His parents were founding members of the Cuban Communist Party.
Originally he intended to become a physician, but abandoned that in favor of writing and his passion for the cinema. Starting in 1950, he studied journalism at he University of Havana. Center for book culture by Dionisio D. Martínez Under the Batista regime he was arrested and fined in 1952 for publishing a short story which included several English-language profanities. His opposition to Batista later cost him a short jail term.
He married for the first time in 1953. From 1954 to 1960 he wrote film reviews for the magazine Carteles, using the pseudonym G. Caín; he became its editor in chief, still pseudonymously, in 1957. With the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 he was named director of the Instituto del Cine. He was also head of the literary magazine Lunes de Revolución, a supplement to the Communist newspaper Revolución; however, this supplement was prohibited in 1961 by Fidel Castro.
He divorced in 1961 and in the same year married his second wife, Miriam Gomez, an actress. Having fallen somewhat out of favor with the Castro regime (the government’s ban on a documentary on Havana nightlife made by his brother led to his being forbidden to publish in Cuba), he served from 1962 to 1965 in Brussels, Belgium, as a cultural attaché. During this time, his sentiments turned against the Castro regime; after returning to Cuba for his mother’s funeral in 1965, he went into exile, first in Madrid, then in London.
In 1966 he published Tres Tristes Tigres, a highly experimental, Joycean novel, playful and rich in literary allusions, which intended to do for Cuban Spanish what Mark Twain had done for American English, recording the great variety of its colloquial variations.
It is little known that Guillermo Cabrera Infante was the Guillermo Caín who co-wrote the script for Richard C. Sarafian’s 1971 cult film Vanishing Point.
Although he is considered a part of the famed Latin American "Boom" generation of writers that includes his contemporary Gabriel García Márquez, he disdained the label. Even an iconoclast, he even rejected the label "novel" for his masterpieces, such as Tres Tristes Tigres and La Habana para un infante difunto. He was influential to Puerto Rican and Cuban writers such as Luis Rafael Sánchez’s ( )and ‘s
In 1997 he received the Premio Cervantes, presented to him by the King Juan Carlos of Spain.
He died on February 21, 2005, in London, of septicemia. He had two daughters by his first marriage.
- Así en la paz como en la guerra (1960, "In peace as in war"; a pun on a line from the Lord’s Prayer)
- Twentieth Century Job (1963, a collection film reviews, published in Spanish as "Un oficio del siglo XX")
- Tres Tristes Tigres (1967, novel, published in English as Three Trapped Tigers; the original title refers to a Spanish-language tongue-twister, and literally means "Three Sad Tigers"); portions of this were later republished as Ella cantaba boleros
- Vista del amanecer en el trópico (1974, novel, published in English as "A View of Dawn in the Tropics")
- Exorcismos de esti(l)o (1976, novel, "Exorcisms of style"; estilo means style and estío, summertime)
- La Habana para un Infante Difunto (1979, memoir, published in English as Infante’s Inferno; the Spanish title is a pun on "Pavane pour une infante defunte", title of a piano piece by Maurice Ravel)
- Holy Smoke, 1985 (in English, later translated into Spanish as Puro Humo)
- Delito por bailar el chachachá, 1995 (in English: Guilty of Dancing the ChaChaCha, 2001, translated by himself)
- Cine o sardina (1997, "Cinema or sardine", alludes to the choice his mother gave him between eating and going to the movies)
- Vidas para leerlas (1998, essays, "Lives to be read")
- Arcadia todas las noches ("Arcadia every night")
- Mea Cuba (1991, political essays, the title means "Cuba Pisses" or "Cuba is Pissing" and is a pun on "Mea Culpa")
- Infantería (title is a pun on his name and the Spanish for "infantry")
Cabrera Infante also translated James Joyce’s Dubliners into Spanish (1972) and wrote screenplays, including Vanishing Point and the adaptation of Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano.