Sunday, October 14, 2007

Carlos Victoria (1950-2007) RIP

The Cuban novelist and short story writer Carlos Victoria, whom El Figaro called the "Miami Maupassant" — erring only in the "Miami" part — is dead. The tragedy is even greater because he died by his own hand. Of course, it was not Victoria, beset by cancer, who took his own life. Reinaldo Arenas, before his death, named the party that he considered responsible for it. The same malefactor also brought about Victoria's early demise and truncated the lives of countless others. A great writer, a national writer, cannot live without nourishing the roots of his inspiration in his native soil. The spirit dries up and so does the pen. Even Martí felt that emptiness at the end of his life, and the months that he spent in the Cuban countryside before his death in battle were the most intense and rewarding of his life. He went to Cuba to restore his spirit and to die. For Victoria and other Cuban artists, it is a choice that doesn't exist. Create in freedom but rootless, or create without freedom but in one's homeland — neither is the ideal environment but that is the choice that generations of Cuban artists have had to make. After the regime refused not only to publish his works but destroyed all his existing manuscripts, there was nothing for Carlos Victoria to do but leave before it destroyed his mind or ended his life.

One can't know, of course, if the writers that fell afoul of the Castro regime would have achieved as much as they did without having to struggle for every expression of personal and artistic freedom, indeed, for every word. Adversity is also a stimulus to genius. We would have been content to see Arenas, Victoria and their entire generation less brilliant but happier. Posterity, we are sure, however, will not surrender even the smallest part of their legacy.


Vana said...


I'm sorry we lost a fellow compatriot and acomplished writer in exile, I researched him a little before trying to comment here, he arrived during the Mariel boatlift, he acomplished a lot the few years he was in exile, I believe he wrote 3 books, I will have to read them.

I'm ashamed to say, I did not know who he was, until you posted it, may he rest in peace, he was too young to die, tell me did he have terminal cancer?

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Timeshadows said...

I was his next door neighbour, and we had become friends. Our loss is great; he was a kind and gentle man with great scope of vision and an ease of language I've yet to find its equal.