Born in the Columbia Military Encampment close to Havana in the city of Marianao where his father was a colonel, Lezama lived through some of the most turbulent times of Cuba's history, fighting against the Machado dictatorship. His literary output includes the semi-autobiographical, baroque novel Paradiso (1966), the story of a young man and his struggles with his mysterious illness, the death of his father, and his developing sensuality and poetic sensibilities. Lezama Lima also edited several anthologies of Cuban poetry and the magazines Verbum and Orígenes, presiding as the patriarch of Cuban letters for most of his later years.
Although he only left Cuba on at most two occasions (one trip to Jamaica and a possible trip to Mexico), Lezama's poetry, essays and two novels draw images and ideas from nearly all of the world's cultures and from all historical time periods. The baroque style that he forged relied equally upon his Góngora-influenced syntax and stunning constellations of unlikely images. Lezama Lima's first published work, a long poem called "Muerte de Narciso," released when he was only twenty-seven, made him immediately famous within Cuba and established Lezama's well-wrought style and classical subject matter.
In addition to his poems and novels, Lezama wrote many essays on figures of world literature like Mallarmé, Valéry, Góngora and Rimbaud as well as on Latin American baroque asethetics. Most notably the essays published as La expresión americana lay out his vision of the European baroque, its relation to the classical, and of the American baroque.
José Lezama Lima died in 1976 at age 65 and was buried in the Colon Cemetery, Havana. He was influential to Cuban and Puerto Rican writers of his generation and the next, such as Virgilio Piñera, Reinaldo Arenas, Fernando Velázquez Medina, René Marqués, and Giannina Braschi, who depict his life and works in their writing.
In the movie "Strawberry and chocolate" (1994) Lezama is a model to Diego, a wayside gay intellectual; and David, a member of the local communists youths, discovers the author of "Paradiso", and becomes a man after a grand "a la Lezama" supper.
Jose Lezama Lima: Selections edited by Ernesto Livon-Grosman
Paperback: 234 pages
Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (March 14, 2005)
Amazon: Jose Lezama Lima: Selections edited
Recognized as one of the most influential Latin American writers of the twentieth century, José Lezama Lima, born in Cuba in 1910, is associated with the Latin American neo-baroque and has influenced several generations of writers in and out of Cuba, including such prominent poets as Severo Sarduy and Néstor Perlongher. Lezama Lima's vision of America in a continental sense stands at the fertile confluence of indigenous, African, and European influences. A crucial experimental writer, he has been known in English chiefly for his novel Paradiso, while little of his poetry has been translated. This anthology is a comprehensive introduction to Lezama Lima's poetry. It presents for the first time in English a generous selection of his poems, as well as an interview, essays, and critical work on his poetics. Ernesto Livon-Grosman has selected elegant and precise translations by James Irby, G.J. Racz, Nathaniel Tarn, and Roberto Tejada. His insightful introduction places the poet in the wider context of Cuban and Latin American cultural history.
Strawberry & Chocolate (1995)
Actors: Jorge Perugorría, Vladimir Cruz, Mirta Ibarra, Francisco Gattorno, Joel Angelino
Directors: Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Juan Carlos Tabío
Studio: Walt Disney Video
DVD Release Date: January 13, 2004
Run Time: 108 minutes
Amazon: Strawberry & Chocolate (1995)
Robert Redford and Miramax Films proudly present STRAWBERRY & CHOCOLATE, the irresistible comedy treat that's received outstanding critical acclaim! Meet David -- a naive young college kid who's out on his own for the very first time. With the help of two extraordinary new friends, David soon learns everything there is to know about the things that aren't taught in school! Diego is the writer who teaches him about the passion of life ... and Nancy is the woman who teaches him about the passion of love! Nominated for the Academy Award(R) as Best Foreign Language Film in 1994, STRAWBERRY & CHOCOLATE is a deliciously fun-filled celebration of life at its entertaining best!
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