Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Early in his career, Alejo Carpentier (kahr-pehn-TYAYR) published two volumes of poetry: Dos poemas afro-cubanos (1930) and, in French, Poèmes des Antilles (1931). He did not publish poetry after the early 1930’s, though some of his poems, particularly one or two in French, were quite good. Two of his poems from the Afro-Cuban period have been widely anthologized. Carpentier’s nonfiction works include La música en Cuba (1946; Music in Cuba, 2001), Tientos y diferencias (1964), and La novela latinoamericana en vísperas del nuevo siglo, y otros ensayos (1981). Music in Cuba is a beautiful book, combining Carpentier’s mastery as a narrator with a supple descriptive style. His essays in Tientos y diferencias were very influential among critics of the Latin American novel. Carpentier was known both as a writer and as a musicologist. He wrote the scenario for several Afro-Cuban ballets, most notably El milagro de Anaquillé (1928), and innumerable journalistic pieces on music and literature. From 1950 to 1959, he wrote a column on these topics for El nacional in Caracas, Venezuela. Carpentier’s short fiction deals with very large topics and spans of time rather than characters caught in daily existence—about great issues such as causality in history. Guerra del tiempo (1958; War of Time, 1970) is one of the best-known collections of short stories in Latin America as well as around the world.