Monte, Domingo del (1804–1853)

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Monte, Domingo del (1804–1853)

Domingo del Monte (b. 4 August 1804; d. 4 November 1853), Cuban literary critic and poet. Domingo del Monte y Aponte was the most important literary critic in nineteenth-century Cuba. A humanist and respectable poet in his own right, Del Monte was the initiator of Cuba's national literature. Born in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Del Monte and his family immigrated to Santiago de Cuba in 1810 and later lived in Havana, where he studied philosophy at the university from 1816 to 1820 and received an advanced degree in civil law in 1827.

Having developed an interest in literature, Del Monte promoted a Cuban-based form of education on the island. With the Spanish writer J. Villarino, Del Monte founded and published the weekly La Moda o Recreo Semanal del Bello Sexo (1829–1831), a magazine about culture and literature. He was a member of the prestigious and powerful Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País and was in charge of the education section from 1830 to 1834. He was also named secretary and, in 1842, president of the Comisión de Literatura of the Sociedad Económica. With other Cuban intellectuals, Del Monte helped to make the Sociedad Económica's Revista Bimestre Cubana (1831–1834) one of the most important publications in the Spanish language. He and others supported a national culture and transformed the Comisión de Literatura into the Academia Cubana de Literatura. Literature became a vehicle for expressing a national culture and changing society. Supporters of slavery and others hostile to Cuban-born nationals suppressed the academy, but this did not stop Del Monte from pursuing his literary interests.

Del Monte, who married Doña Rosa de Aldama of the powerful Aldama family, is better known for his famous literary circle, which he began in his hometown of Matanzas in 1834 and continued in Havana after 1835. At his home, young and progressive writers gathered and looked to him for inspiration and guidance. Del Monte encouraged his writer friends to abandon romanticism, accept realism, write about Cuban society and culture, and condemn the evils of slavery. His ideal of Cuban literature was reflected in the antislavery narratives written between 1835 and 1839 by himself, Anselmo Suárez y Romero, and Félix Tanco y Bosmeniel, among others.

Because of his friendship with the British abolitionist David Turnbull, Del Monte traveled to Philadelphia in 1842. In his absence, he was falsely accused by the mulatto poet José de la Concepción Valdés (Plácido) of participating in the Ladder Conspiracy of 1844, a failed slave rebellion. Refusing to go before the military tribunal, Del Monte was never allowed to return to Cuba and died in exile in Madrid, Spain.

See alsoSlave Revolts: Spanish America; Slave Trade, Abolition of: Spanish America.


Salvador Bueno, Las ideas literarias de Domingo del Monte (1954), Figuras cubanas del siglo XIX (1980), and Domingo de Monte (1986).

William Luis, Literary Bondage: Slavery in Cuban Narrative (1990).

Jesús Saíz de la Mora, Domingo del Monte: Su influencia en la cultura y literatura cubana (1930).

Carlos Valdés Miranda, Domingo del Monte y Aponte (1941).

Additional Bibliography

Martínez Carmenate, Urbano. Domingo del Monte. La Habana, Cuba: Ediciones UNIÓN, 1997.

Paz Sánchez, Manuel de. "'El Lugareño' contra la esclavocracia: las cartas de Gaspar Betancourt y Cisneros, 1803–1866." Revista de Indias 58:214 (Sept.-Dec. 1998): 617-636.

                                         William Luis

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Monte, Domingo del (1804–1853)

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