The bench at the Literary School

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In a place of obligatory confluence, beside the main door of the Dihigo building, rests the reddish mastodon known as the “bench at the Literary School.” On it have rested, in the last decades, the most illustrious behinds of our intellectual class.  Many of those knowledgeable derrières rest today on a couch in Paris or a chair in Buenos Aires or crush the lawn of a German field.  Regardless of the long pilgrimages of a good portion of its “tenants,” the long seat remains, with its durable caoba,* in the same place.

Over the hard strips from which it is made, I sat the first day I arrived at the Faculty of Arts and Literature of the University of Havana and I crashed in it a couple of times, when I got a low grade. It knew of my difficulties with Latin and my predilection for Latin American literature. Its iron structure verified how few kilograms that the years of the Special Period gave to many of us students.   It knew, also, of the incomprehensions that generated the sectarianism, the ideological “purges” and the dogmas.

In the wood of this austere bench, is the memory of many award-winning writers, of others in disgrace and of those already passed away, while on its back, the sweat of several generations of critics, poets and historians, has left a “tint” of erudition.

Since I graduated I have not dared to sit, again, in the “bench at the Literary School.”  It is now the territory of younger ones who dream with literature, initiate themselves in poetry, and discover the way towards metaphor. It remains as tough and proud as before, since its structure seems to feed off syntactic concepts, etymological analysis and dissonant rhymes.

Translators note:

Caoba =  A mahogany type wood

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64 thoughts on “The bench at the Literary School

  1. an i just say ive been going through your blog and you have really good writing skills, I think your style is better than some of the so called proffessionals – all credit to you!

  2. Estoy en Miami y es comun escuchar a los cubanos, la generacion que llevo a Fidel al poder, quejarse, protestar, ya sea en una plaza, cafeteria o en La Mega, claro, es facil desde afuera, lo dificil, lo valiente, es hacerlo desde adentro. Te felicito por eso, por lo que estas haciendo. Esto es el comienzo de la caida de una mentira que la dibujaron como un sueño y que para el pueblo cubano es una pesadilla que parece no tener fin, pesadilla que se la vendieron como un sueño al pueblo en Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, etc., por eso es que tu blog traspasa las fronteras de la Isla, porque es la oportunidad que tu le das a esos pueblos que tambien les vendieron una mentira, a que despierten, a que aspiren a lo mismo que tanta gente como tu en Cuba estan deseando, Libertad. Si te puedo ayudar en algo, estoy a las ordenes.

  3. Lo mismo que pague uno la mercancia o servicios en pesos cubanos o moneda convertible lo que duele es el costo de todo hoy en dia. Los cubanos reciben sueldos en pesos comparables a lo que ganaban en los anos 50. La diferencia es que lo que antes costaba centavos hoy cuesta pesos. Por 5 centavos en esa epoca se tomaba un cafe, un pastelito, un cucurucho de mani, un paquete de bollitos de carita o un helado. Un desayuno de cafe con leche y pan con mantequilla eran 15 centavos. Una comida completa o un sandwich cubano en una fonda, 50 centavos. Un piruli costaba un centavo. No solo era todo barato en los anos 50, pero se conseguia todo en cualquier timbiriche en una esquina de la Habana. Las escuelas publicas y la universidad de la Habana eran gratis, y la famosa atencion medica gratuita tambien existia entonces en el hospital Calixto Garcia, y la privada costaba $3.75 al mes en la Quinta Covadonga (Salvador Allende), la Benefica y en otras clinicas. Los tiempos pasados siempre fueron mejores.

  4. Ektor is obvioulsy in love with Cuban Revolution… It is his democratic freedom to believe and express that Castro’s regime is a workers paradise….

    My question is:

    1) Does Ektor think Communism is good but for other people bar him ?
    2) If not when will he ask for political asile at the nearest Cuban Embassy ?

  5. How nice that you write in English!!!……you are a true revolutionary……since the only thing I know about Cuba is MAINLY what I read in the press…or hear from friends…..
    My sister Chris thinks Cuba is a bad evil place…dictatorship…
    Do you like Cuba?

  6. YOLANDA PARA PRESIDENTE !!!!

    Se Chile tiene democraticamente una mujer como Presidente de la Republica porque no YOLANDA para Presidente en Cuba ???
    Pero para isso es necessario Libertad !!

    Viva La Libertad para el pueblo Cubano.

    Welling Webmaster
    WELLING Inglaterra

  7. Dejenme revelar un pequeño secreto:
    giansoko es de apellido troko
    :)

  8. Guillermo dijo:

    Don’t speak about the “perfect” health system of us…
    Just watch Mikle Moore’s SICKO….

    And if you have read at least a little history and little politics you will know that the capitalist system needed 1.500 years to be established…

    So, give that time to a socialist system and then talk.

    As about Internet…yes with 10 $ you can have internet line…and where exactly are you going to plug it?????

    40% of USA citizens NEVER had access the internet…
    And I don’t speak for how many they OWN a computer or a line….
    Yes, some people have 50 PC and some others none…so the numbers are little…you know!!

    And I can’t hear about people who “just saying their opinion”…
    Maybe it was their opinion the 600++ attempts of murder against Castro??? Or they just care about them selfs…like the mafia in Miami??
    And of course I don’t pout everyone in the same basket.
    But who is against Castro? The people who where doing business and were rich with the dictators…
    And don’t say pimping because you are a doctor….see how is the real prostitution and the “benefits” and tell me if you want to go back to that time…
    or even better…why you don’t ask from your children to follow this…”profession”…I think nobody wants that!!

    “Ellit communists”…who are they?? Because as far as I know almost everybody participates in the revolutionary committe.

    And I don’t say the life is good in Cuba. And of course there are huge problems.
    But really you believe that if there was a “European” system you think it will be better? The front for shore… and yes everybody will have PLASMA TV….(everybody????haha).
    But how many will suffer from the lack of health-system, unemployment etc.
    In this “perfect” world, if you pore, you are alone, your only freedom is to die…but don’t do mess…they will charge you for that.

  9. me gustaria que las cosas cambiaran. yo espero que si,… pero no se si seran dos anos, o diez. yo todavia soy joven y me gustaria vivir y negociar en mi isla. mis abuelos tenian mucho orgullo por su tierra y fueron Ministros de Hacienda, education, agricultra, y Director del la Universidad de habana (Dr enriqe Hernandez cosio; Dr juan buatista Barrero) me gustaria hablar con alguin alli en al habana, para contemplar el futuro del mundo. sales@clickoncommunity.com

  10. Mi espanol no es muy bueno, pero…vivo in California, USA y admiro su coraje. Los Cubanos tienen amigos in Los Estados Unidos que saben la verdad. Mil gracias a gente como Usted! Bravo!

  11. It’s great to question the Cuban government’s propaganda! Kudos for that! many in the US believe all the crap about the revolution’s successes. It is not about socialism. There’s no and there’s never been socialism in Cuba, just another tropical dictatorship commandeered by a messianic lunatic. It’s time to get rid of the mummies and built the New Cuba. !Viva la Libertad y el Progreso!

  12. I have enjoied reading your stories very much. Being Canadian i take for grantit the freedoms that i was born in to.I have been to cuba many times and will return as often as i can.I dont care to know the problems the American’s have with cuba nore do i care. Most of the world have the same problems with them .Cuba is a very beautiful untouched part of the world.Keep up the good work.

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