Reinaldo Arenas: 50 years of Celestino

Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990) was one of Cuba’s most important and controversial writers. His debut novel Celestino antes del alba celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Arenas is best known outside the Spanish-speaking world for his posthumously published 1992 autobiography, Antes que anochezca / Before Night Falls (adapted into an award-winning film in 2000 by Julian Schnabel). This documented the horrific persecution he faced under Fidel Castro, both for his openly homosexual lifestyle and for his public antipathy towards the leader’s regime, and his eventual escape to the USA as part of the infamous Mariel Boatlift.

The cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas in France in June, 1988.

Reinaldo Arenas in France in June, 1988. (Photo by Louis MONIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

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A collection of Spanish broadsides bequeathed by E.M. Wilson

Some 160 Spanish broadsides (known as “aleluyas” in Spanish) have been recently added to the Cambridge Libraries catalogue. They were bequeathed to Cambridge University Library by Edward Meryon Wilson, former professor of Spanish at the University of Cambridge. The collection contains a complete run of one of the longest series of aleluyas ever printed in Spain: the Marés-Minuesa-Hernando series, consisting of 125 numbers. According to Jean-François Botrel [1], the printer Hernando would have acquired this collection from the printers Marés-Minuesa in 1886 and would have started reprinting it shortly afterwards.

These aleluyas can be consulted in the Rare Books Room (classmark F180.bb.8.1). They were printed by Librería Hernando and by Sucesores de Hernando, respectively (the founder and his descendants) between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century (Librería Hernando was founded in 1828; Sucesores de Hernando took over in 1902).

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Ingenuity in the age of Cervantes: pop-up talk, Tuesday 21st February

Following the Fighting windmills virtual exhibition, a short in-focus talk will be given on Tuesday 21st February at 1pm entitled Ingenuity in the age of Cervantes. Come and join us for a compelling presentation by Dr Rodrigo Cacho  from MML and Dr José Ramón Marcaida from CRASHH (Library members only).

See poster below for more details.

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Fighting windmills – new virtual exhibition on Don Quixote at the University Library

The virtual exhibition ‘Fighting windmills: the many interpretations of Don Quixote’ was launched yesterday to commemorate Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s 400th death anniversary. It features some rarely seen and beautifully illustrated material from a wide number of collections within the University Library, and its main aim is to highlight some of the ways in which Don Quixote has been appropriated by readers, artists and other writers throughout the centuries.
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Illustration by Walter Crane from ‘Don Quixote of the Mancha’; London: Blackie&Son, 1900 (Waddleton.c.9.615)

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Fidel Castro, 1926-2016

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On Friday November 25th, exactly 60 years since he set forth from Mexico on the yacht Granma, one of the most influential, divisive and long-standing public figures of the last century passed away. This year also marked 10 years since Fidel Castro began to step down from his position as president of Cuba, a country he had led for well over half a century. However, his influence and image still loomed large over his country – and world politics in general – in the intervening years and will continue to do so for years to come.

The University Library has always strongly collected material from and about Cuba, especially since the Revolution – in fact, the earliest book that we hold concerning Fidel Castro dates from 1959, the very year that Castro and his rebels finally ousted Fulgencio Batista from power: Fidel Castro: rebel–liberator or dictator? by Jules Dubois (672:45.c.95.2). Continue reading