Fernández Retamar, Roberto (1930–)

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Fernández Retamar, Roberto (1930–)

Roberto Fernández Retamar (b. 1930), Cuban essayist and poet. Fernández Retamar was born in Havana and received a doctorate in philosophy and literature in 1954. In 1951 he was awarded the National Poetry Prize for his book Patrias. He studied linguistics in Paris (1955) and London (1956). After returning to Cuba in 1958, he wrote using the pseudonym David for the underground revolutionary publication Resistencia. After the Cuban Revolution of 1959, he continued his academic career until the following year, when he was named cultural adviser for the Cuban embassy in Paris. He was elected coordinating secretary of the Cuban Union of Writers and Artists (UNEAC).

During the 1970s and 1980s Fernández Retamar made a name for himself as an essayist. Noteworthy among his essays are "Para una teoría de la literatura hispanoamericana" (1975) and "Calibán." This latter essay was a socialist response to the Uruguayan José Enrique Rodó's canonical Ariel, a text that idealized and even Hellenized the Spanishspeaking Americas. "Caliban" first appeared in the journal Casa de las Américas in 1974; it appeared in book form in Mexico the same year, and in English translation in the Massachusetts Review.

As of the mid-1990s, Fernández Retamar was a frequent representative of Cuba in international cultural activities and was active also in his own country's cultural affairs. His essays are among the best examples of revolutionary aesthetics in literature that Cuba has produced. Among his best collections of poems is Cuaderno paralelo (1973). Other works include Introducción a José Martí (1978), Juana y otros poemas personales (1981), and Entrevisto (1982).

See alsoLiterature: Spanish America; Rodó, José Enrique.


Campuzano, Luisa. "La revista: Casa de las Américas 1960–1995." Unión (La Habana) 8, no. 24 (July-September 1996): 25-34.

Colombres, Adolfo. América Latina: El desafío del tercer milenio. Buenos Aires: Ediciones del Sol, 1993.

Fernandez Retamar, Roberto. Caliban and Other Essays. Translated by Edward Baker. Foreword by Frederic Jameson. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989.

González Echevarría, Roberto. "Roberto Fernández Retamar: An Introduction." Diacritics 8, no. 4 (Winter 1978): 70-75.

Ortiz, Ricardo. "Revolution's Other Histories: The Sexual, Cultural, and Critical Legacies of Roberto Fernández Retamar's 'Caliban'" Social Text 17, no. 1 (Spring 1999):33-58.

                                       Roberto Valero

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Fernández Retamar, Roberto (1930–)