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The Literature of Uprootedness

...Though I was nervous about meeting the great man, one of Cuba's most admired writers, Arenas immediately put me at ease. "Encantado," he said, smiling and taking my hand. Forty years old at the time, he had thick, curly black hair and enormous, sad eyes; his face was lined and leathery.



...Does a writer have a duty to himself and to society?


The writer has a fundamental responsibility to write well or to write the best he can, because if he doesn't he's not a writer. And when a writer writes, he's always referring to a social and historical context. It's impossible for Argentinian writers not to write as Argentinians, because to be Argentinian is a circumstance of fate, like it is to be Cuban. When you analyze the bourgeois writer's novel, you see the shortcomings of bourgeois society. Even when you try to write a fantasy story, in some way that fantasy is going to be connected to a reality. But regardless, if someone is a true writer—not an opportunist who wants to be in favor with the government of the day—that person is always going to be for freedom. Because the simple truth is that without freedom, the writer cannot exist. And the writer who is for freedom is, by definition, not for any totalitarian system. So the duty of the writer is to write well and champion freedom. And he champions freedom because he has an obligation—what better obligation than this?