Alejo Carpentier

Cuban-French writer and musicologist (1904–1980)

Alejo Carpentier y Valmont (Spanish pronunciation: [karpanˈtje], French pronunciation: [kaʁpɑ̃tje]; December 26, 1904 – April 24, 1980) was a novelist, essayist, and musicologist who greatly influenced Latin American literature during its famous "boom" period. Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, of French and Russian parentage, Carpentier grew up in Havana, Cuba.

Alejo Carpentier

Quotes edit

Quotes about edit

  • The first person to name that movement "Magical Realism," to give a label to that, was Alejo Carpentier. He was living with the surrealists in France and the surrealists were inventing this wonderful new thing of printing together on a dissecting table, a sewing machine and an umbrella, and that was surrealism. And Alejo Carpentier realized that this was an intellectual process that had its roots, and he could see the umbrella and the sewing machine on this dissecting table in Latin America because it was part of our culture. Kafka would have been a realist if he would have lived in Mexico. So Alejo Carpentier realized that, and he abandoned the surrealists and searched in our roots, in our history, in our legends, in our folklore. He was the first one to label it. And it was wonderful because it was like giving permission to other writers to finally use their own voices. Because before that our writers were always trying to imitate Europeans, or North Americans, and were denying all our Indian background, our African influence, our own languages, and legends, and myths. This was just an open door for all that. I think that was the beginning of the Boom. That really gave a lot of people permission to do anything. But it's not a literary device, it's part of our life. The magic is still there.
  • Alejo Carpentier was absolutely wonderful. The Kingdom of the Earth is an exquisite little novel-it's brilliant.
    • 1979 and 1980 interview in Conversations with Nadine Gordimer edited by Nancy Topping Bazin and Marilyn Dallman Seymour (1990)
  • For many years I have said, following the tradition of Nicolás Guillén, Fernando Ortiz and Alejo Carpentier, that whoever wants to understand Cuba cannot ignore its mestizo condition in which the Hispanic and African components cannot be divided because they have created a cosmovisión that is authentically original.

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