Study Guide

Guillermo Cabrera Infante

Guillermo Cabrera Infante Biography

Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Guillermo Cabrera Infante (kah-BRAY-rah een-FAHN-tay), a writer whose satiric, imaginative prose has been compared with that of Lewis Carroll, James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, and Laurence Sterne, is considered to be one of Latin America’s most original and influential writers. Born in Gibara, a small city on the northern coast of Cuba’s Oriente Province, Cabrera Infante was the second child and first son of Guillermo Cabrera Lopez, a journalist, and Zoila Infante. Because his parents were founders of the Communist Party in Cuba, Cabrera Infante was reared in poverty, in an environment of sacrifice for the utopia to come.{$S[A]Infante, Guillermo Cabrera;Cabrera Infante, Guillermo}

After teaching himself to read (at the age of four) by deciphering Dick Tracy and Tarzan comic books, Cabrera Infante was sent to a Quaker school. When he was twelve, the entire family emigrated to Havana. Although extremely poor, he managed to attend high school and study at the school of journalism, simultaneously working at various odd jobs. Receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1948, Cabrera Infante subsequently studied medicine at Havana University in 1949, and again from 1950 to 1954. In 1952, he was briefly imprisoned and fined for publishing a short story containing English obscenities. In 1953, he began writing film criticism under the pseudonym Guillermo Cain in Carteles magazine, of which he became fiction editor in 1957. He married for the first time in 1953 and had two daughters, Ana and Carola. Following his divorce in 1961, he married a young actress named Miriam Gómez.

After the revolution of 1959, Cabrera Infante founded Lunes, a cultural journal and literary supplement to La Revolución, the revolutionary government newspaper which he helped to edit. Lunes was banned in 1961, and Cabrera Infante became increasingly disillusioned with the revolution. To remove him from internal politics, the Cuban government sent him to what he perceived as semiofficial exile; from 1962 to 1965, he served first as Cuban cultural attaché and then briefly as chargé d’affaires in Belgium.

In 1960, Cabrera Infante published his first book, Writes of Passage, a collection of short stories that, taken together, construct a coherent portrait of Cuban lower-middle-class life during the 1950’s. The author’s candor, his use of colloquial speech, and the delicate balance between humor and tragedy all foreshadow the style and tone of his masterpiece, Three...

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Guillermo Cabrera Infante Bibliography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Cabrera Infante, Guillermo. Interview by Rita Guibert. In Seven Voices: Seven Latin American Writers Talk to Rita Guibert. Translated by Frances Partridge. New York: Vintage Books, 1972. A good starting point for research.

Feal, Rosemary Geisdorfer. Novel Lives: The Fictional Autobiographies of Guillermo Cabrera Infante and Mario Vargas Llosa. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986. A study of Latin American autobiographical fiction that focuses on Cabrera Infante’s Infante’s Inferno.

Levine, Suzanne Jill. The Subversive Scribe: Translating Latin American Fiction. St. Paul, Minn.: Graywolf Press, 1991. Uncovers the process of translating Tres tristes tigres and other key works into English.

Nelson, Ardis L., ed. Guillermo Cabrera Infante: Assays, Essays, and Other Arts. New York: Twayne, 1999. A collection of essays in Twayne’s World Authors series. Includes pieces by Nelson, Raymond D. Souza, Kenneth Hall, and Suzanne Jill Levine.

Souza, Raymond D. Guillermo Cabrera Infante: Two Islands, Many Worlds. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996. The first comprehensive exploration of the life and works of Cabrera Infante. Draws on interviews with the author and his family and friends, as well as extensive study of both published and unpublished works.

World Literature Today 61, no. 4 (1987). A special issue that focuses on Cabrera Infante.