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Slave Rebellion and Social Identity in Cuba and the U.S. during the 1840s and 1850s
David Luis-Brown, Claremont Graduate University
Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FT-229232-15
"Introduction: The Sun of Jesús del Monte: A Cuban Abolitionist Novel by Andrés Avelino de Orihuela" (forthcoming) (Book Section)
Title: "Introduction: The Sun of Jesús del Monte: A Cuban Abolitionist Novel by Andrés Avelino de Orihuela" (forthcoming)
Author: Luis-Brown, David
Abstract: The year that Harriet Beecher Stowe published her best-selling novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Or Life Among the Lowly (1852), an obscure migrant from the Canary Islands to Cuba then in exile in Paris, Andrés Avelino de Orihuela, set out to build on her success. He published the first Spanish-language translation of Stowe’s novel, La Cabaña del Tío Tom, his own antislavery novel set in Cuba, El Sol de Jesús del Monte: Novela de costumbres cubanas (The Sun of Jesús del Monte: A Novel of Cuban Customs), and a scathing pamphlet that impugned the racial politics of Cuban exiles. Since all three of these texts adapt Stowe’s concerns to the political exigencies of Cuba, all three could be considered differing translations of her novel, even if El Sol de Jesús del Monte decisively parts ways with Uncle Tom’s Cabin—and therefore lays claim to a lasting place in the literatures of Cuba and the black Atlantic—with its critique of discourses of white superiority and its endorsement of equality for free people of color.
As if to register his literary ambitions, in a single year Orihuela wrote texts that attached his reputation to the premiere U.S. antislavery writer, Stowe; to the most famous Cuban writer, the mulatto poet Plácido (1809-44), the martyr of the Conspiracy of La Escalera (1843-44), the major anticolonial and slave rebellion in nineteenth-century Cuba; and to the most respected white Cuban exile intellectual, José Antonio Saco (1797-1879), who advocated an end to the slave trade but not slavery. By connecting and correcting Saco and Stowe, by foregrounding Plácido’s opposition to slavery and colonialism, and by emphasizing the plight and promise of free people of color, Orihuela makes the unprecedented move in Cuban letters of explicitly linking the causes of abolition and independence in an effort to shape debates over what he calls the “cause of Cuba."
Publisher: Arte Publico Press
Book Title: The Sun of Jesús del Monte: A Cuban Abolitionist Novel by Andrés Avelino de Orihuela, Trans. David Luis-Brown