Reinaldo Arenas, Caliban, and Postcolonial Discourse

by Enrique Morales-Díaz


"“This intriguing study of the articulations of gender and marginality in Caribbean narrative in general, and in Reinaldo Arenas’ writing in particular, is based on the Calibanesque notion of Latin American identity formulated by Roberto Fernandez Retamar in 1971. The author, Enrique Morales-Díaz, is successful in carrying out a parallel examination of the discourses of unequal power relations within the postcolonial context on one hand, and that of gender equality on the other. Caliban’s genealogy in the Americas is developed as a trope of resistance, a locus of contestatory discourse against oppression. Similarly, Arenas’ writing is scrutinized against the same paradigm and it too is deemed a counterdiscourse that speaks from a marginalized space, defiant of orthodox gender normativity. Both the emblematic figure of Caliban and the openly gay writer are presented as the Other in the face of oppression, whose discourse aims at decolonization (of a space or of a self). Most of the studies on Arenas focused on his homosexuality (alone) and his reputation as an ‘enfant terrible,’ a non-conformist. However, this study examines his writing from a postcolonial angle––adding a new, fresh dimension to the critical evaluation of the Cuban writer.” – Silvia Nagy-Zekmi, Professor of Hispanic and Cultural Studies, Villanova University


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