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Farewell to the Sea : Pentagonia - Reinaldo Arenas

Farewell to the Sea

Pentagonia

By: Reinaldo Arenas, A. Hurley (Translator)

Paperback

Published: 1st August 1994
For Ages: 18+ years old
Ships: 7 to 10 business days
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RRP $36.00
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In this brilliant, apocalyptic vision of Castro's Cuba, we meet a young couple who leave the dreariness of Havana and spend six days at a small seaside retreat, where they hope to recapture the desire and carefree spirit that once united them. In a stunning juxtaposition of narrative voices, the wife recounts the grim reality of her marriage, the demands of motherhood, and her loss of freedom, innocence, and hope; while her husband, a disillusioned poet and disenchanted revolutionary, recalls his political struggles and laments the artistic and homosexual freedom that has been denied him. Rich in hallucination, myth and fantasy, Farewell to the Sea is a fierce and unforgettable work that speaks for the entire human condition.

Arenas, for some years one of Cuba's most important unofficial writers, was cast out finally in the Mariel boat lift in 1980. This book, part of a multisegmented work, provides a sense of the outrage felt by serious Cuban intellectuals (especially those who also are homosexual, doubly pariahs), plus a taste of the still flourishing baroque tradition in Cuban fiction personified by such masters as Lezama-Lima and Cabrera-Infante. The novel is cloven in two. The initial part is a humid, bleak, horror-accumulating monologue, narrated by a young Cuban woman spending a few weeks at a beach cabin with her baby and deeply depressed poet-husband. Disillusion is a condensing fog over everything: "Now that the - shall we say - fundamental problems are solved - house, food, car, salary - we can devote our full efforts to making life intolerable." The husband's political depression, his complete alienation, ultimately plagues the young woman with a no-way-out despair. But the husband isn't merely a poet: he's also homosexual; and the book's second half, which mostly is in verse (the husband's poetry - a difficult translation job handled ably by Andrew Hurley), is at once mythic fantasy, dark satire (a brilliant set piece in which a prancy queen negotiates the streets of the new puritanical Havana), and a litany of sadness and anger. As poetry, it doesn't quite match in intensity the wife's prose section, the oblique mirroring there being more powerfully bleak; and too much of it rains a dandruff of campy literary gesture - yet, together, the two disparate pieces pretty much complement each other. By no means congenial, nor as intriguing finally as the book it most aspires to (Lezama Lima's masterpiece Paradiso), it's a work that still bears powerful witness to the continuing, adventurous elegance of Cuban writing. (Kirkus Reviews)

ISBN: 9780140066364
ISBN-10: 0140066365
Series: Pentagonia
Audience: General
For Ages: 18+ years old
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 432
Published: 1st August 1994
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 20.96 x 13.34  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.35
Edition Type: New edition