FOREWORD: THE INITIALS OF THE EARTH
Fredric Jameson
It is something of a shock to find out how few literary works written in Cuba
since the blockade have been translated into English. The exiles (not all of
them dissidents) have of course been well served, but the American public,
and American intellectuals not specializing in Spanish or Latin American
studies, have very little in the way of narrative texts to help them into the
experience of the Cuban people during these decisive years. Nor is it simply
a matter of the foreign (and potentially exotic) nature of that experience,
though one wants to insist that daily life in a genuine socialist revolution is
radically distinct from life as it is led elsewhere, life which is normally and
conventionally divided into public and private areas. In small-power coun-
tries, to be sure, the political and the international intersect with private life to
a degree hard to imagine for the inhabitants of great powers (no matter how
insistently some of us want to claim that everything private is in the long run
really political). But in socialism—that is to say, in countries engaged in that
endless collective project which is the construction of socialism, as Cuba has
been for almost fifty years now—the personal is the political in a very special
way, just as the political is always personal. How writers are to register this
unique kind of experience we will examine in a moment. But it is also worth
remembering that Cuba is not only unique, it is uniquely significant for us
here in the United States. There has never been another successful socialist
revolution in the New World, let alone one so close to the American super-
state. Even in the world at large, the Cuban social experiment is unique,
and utterly distinct from Soviet or Chinese practice. Meanwhile Fidel’s great
injunction—‘‘Inside the revolution everything, against it nothing’’—has made
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