Reinaldo Arenas Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In addition to novels, Reinaldo Arenas (ah-RAY-nahs) wrote several collections of short stories, political essays, plays, poems, and an extensive autobiography, Antes que anochezca (1992; Before Night Falls, 1993). His short-story collections include Con los ojos cerrados (1972), Adiós a mamá: De La Habana a Nueva York (1995), and Mona, and Other Tales (2001). His poetry collections include El central (1981; El Central: A Cuban Sugar Mill, 1984) and Voluntad de vivir manifestándose (1989).


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Reinaldo Arenas’s first novel, Singing from the Well, was awarded first place by the Cuban Writers Union in 1965. Singing from the Well also was awarded a prestigious French literary award, the Prix Medici, in 1969. In the same year, Hallucinations received the award for Best Foreign Novel from Le Monde (France). In 1980, he was awarded the Cintas Foundation’s Fellow honor. This was followed by other fellow honors, including from the Guggenheim Foundation in 1982 and the Wilson Center Foundation in 1987. His autobiography, Before Night Falls, was listed among the top ten books of the year by The New York Times in 1993. These literary awards were enhanced when the film based on his autobiography received both the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice International Film Festival (1999) and Movie of the Year award from the American Film Institute (2000).


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Browning, Richard L. Childhood and the Nation in Latin American Literature. New York: P. Lang, 2001. A discussion of various Latin American authors and the specific correlations between their childhoods and the literature they produced as adults. Includes bibliographical references.

Ocasio, Rafael. Cuba’s Political and Sexual Outlaw: Reinaldo Arenas. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003. Good source for information on the life and self-exile of Arenas. Describes the relationship between his quest for self-determinism and living as an out gay man in Cuba and the United States. Includes bibliographical references.

Soto, Francisco. Reinaldo Arenas. Boston: Twayne, 1998. A comprehensive literary critique of most of the literature by Arenas. Includes bibliographical references and an index.

Vargo, Marc. Scandal: Infamous Gay Controversies of the Twentieth Century. New York: Harrington Park Press, 2003. A collection documenting the “gay” scandals of the twentieth century, including the political scandals involving an out Arenas in an intolerant Cuba. Includes bibliographical references.

Yozell, Erica Miller. “Writing Resistance Through Melancholy: Reinaldo Arenas’s El palacio de las blanquísimas mofetas and Otra vez el mar.” MLN 123, no. 2, (March, 2008): 308-330. Argues that Arenas employs a “discursive melancholy” in these two novels “as a means of both resistance and escape.”