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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Already Gone?

Is Castro already dead?   Mario Loyola thinks there's a good chance, so I'll take his suggestion and order a mojito tonight just in case.  Of course, I hope my bartender knows what he's doing.  

Compare Loyola's thoughts and observations with this Reuters item today, titled "Cuba says communists in control no matter what."  

It turns out that a gentleman by the name of Mark Falcoff wrote a book, "Cuba, The Morning After-Confronting Castro's Legacy" released in 2003 that deals with the after-Castro question.  Jay Nordlinger has a review here.    

As I have mentioned here before, Ernest Hemingway is one of my favorite authors (he used to be the undisputed #1).  He is also most likely one of the three individuals most readily identified with Cuba (sorry Andy Garcia).  One thing that always bothered me about him was that I couldn't quite figure out his politics.  Between the time spent in Cuba and siding with the communists in "For Whom the Bell Tolls," I expected the worst.  Today I was inspired to try to sort it out.  Though there is a relatively famous picture of Hemingway and Castro together, it was apparently taken the only time the two met, and before Castro declared himself a communist.  The Cuban government has predictably latched on to the Hemingway legacy as a way of promoting tourism, though given that Hemingway refused to enter Italy while Mussolini was in power, I doubt he would visit Cuba today.  The best explanation I found was an editorial by J. Daniel Cloud of the Libertarian Party, in which he argues (also predictably, but also convincingly) that Hemingway was a libertarian or at least had libertarian leanings:

"I cannot be a communist ... because I believe in only one thing: liberty," Ernest Hemingway wrote in response to a letter from a young communist in the late 1930s. "First I would look after myself and do my work. Then I would care for my family. Then I would help my neighbor. But the state I care nothing for. All the state has ever meant to me is unjust taxation. … I believe in the absolute minimum of government."
That I can live with.  

And finally (for today at least), our colleague from the Caribbean has some relevant thoughts on this topic over at The Foundation Dub Joint.  


Hemingway tends to confuse a lot of people it seems. Not just you or me, but good old Soviet communists, critics, and anyone that tries to think of him in a political sense.

I don't know if these help as they're pretty old article, but they do make for some interesting reading.

For a quick read on how the Soviet's struggled with branding Hemingway a 'champion of the people' see Stephen Jan Parker - Hemingway's Revival in the Soviet Union: 1955-1962

For a good read on morality in Hemingway's works, check out James B. Colvert - Ernest Hemingway's Morality in Action

Both those are from American Literature vols. 35, no.4 and 27, no.3 respectively.

I don't know if either of those are available for free somewhere on the net, but I know for a fact that they're on JSTOR, which is accesbile through the UofM library system online.

Lastly though, Hemingway's time in Cuba will forever be remembered by me this way:

"The testosterone positively sizzles, until the narrative reaches 1954, when Hemingway becomes the first Cubano Sato ("garden-variety Cuban") to win the Nobel Prize. The whys and hows of Hemingway's subsequent departure from Cuba are apparently too cloudy for this sunny volume, so the remaining chapters simply detail the research facilities at his estate, Finca Vig¡a, hypothesize on the relationship between Castro and Hemingway, and review Hemingway sites in modern Havana."

From a review of the book, Hemingway in Cuba. You can read the entire review at,

It seems to be a period of time that people would rather not talk about, and instead prefer to speculate about. For the record though, I think Hemingway would have been mortified by modern Cuba. I won't go so far to say that he was a Libertarian, but he seemed to respect and to love the power of individual choice, and the power of a person to rule their own limited domain. Those abilities are largely lost in Fidel's Cuba, and they have been gone for a long time. But that's just my take on it.
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