Event Title

The Objective Death of Reinaldo Arenas

Presenter Information

Heidi Wallace, Buffalo State College

Location

Panel 15: Kearney 312

Start Date

27-10-2012 10:15 AM

End Date

27-10-2012 11:45 AM

Description

In the struggle for autonomy over his writing and identity, the life of Reinaldo Arenas, author of Before Night Falls, becomes a composite accumulation of protests against Fidel Castro’s government in Cuba. Arenas characterizes his identity as a subversive author and homosexual, both illegal under Castro’s government, and by such characterization, the ever-present tension of his resistance produces the content of his literary works. Because the Castro regime oppresses Arenas on the basis of who he is, there is a consistent backlash defining homosexuality and artistic expression into more than what they are: they become, in themselves, oppositional proclamations, and in turn, Arenas, whose identity he bases on these prohibited acts, becomes a living protest to the oppressive government. Arenas’s memoir Before Night Falls creates levels of meaning for his life that would otherwise have been ignored or nonexistent, which makes the text more than a simple recounting of a life; it created the life it depicted, and in this way the text becomes autonomous and productive in its quality. Writing, then, particularly in the case of memoir, is an attempt at immortality where Arenas both tries to continue addressing his audience after his own death and offers a present, bodily image of himself, in which the text necessarily composes in the reader’s mind a mental projection of Arenas as a character. Because of the uncertainty on whether the man composes the text or the text composes the man, there are moments within Arenas’s rhetorical language where he tries to dictate the reader’s interpretation of the text, in an attempt to regain his authorial autonomy without sinking into the generality of the metaphorical language of literature.

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Oct 27th, 10:15 AM Oct 27th, 11:45 AM

The Objective Death of Reinaldo Arenas

Panel 15: Kearney 312

In the struggle for autonomy over his writing and identity, the life of Reinaldo Arenas, author of Before Night Falls, becomes a composite accumulation of protests against Fidel Castro’s government in Cuba. Arenas characterizes his identity as a subversive author and homosexual, both illegal under Castro’s government, and by such characterization, the ever-present tension of his resistance produces the content of his literary works. Because the Castro regime oppresses Arenas on the basis of who he is, there is a consistent backlash defining homosexuality and artistic expression into more than what they are: they become, in themselves, oppositional proclamations, and in turn, Arenas, whose identity he bases on these prohibited acts, becomes a living protest to the oppressive government. Arenas’s memoir Before Night Falls creates levels of meaning for his life that would otherwise have been ignored or nonexistent, which makes the text more than a simple recounting of a life; it created the life it depicted, and in this way the text becomes autonomous and productive in its quality. Writing, then, particularly in the case of memoir, is an attempt at immortality where Arenas both tries to continue addressing his audience after his own death and offers a present, bodily image of himself, in which the text necessarily composes in the reader’s mind a mental projection of Arenas as a character. Because of the uncertainty on whether the man composes the text or the text composes the man, there are moments within Arenas’s rhetorical language where he tries to dictate the reader’s interpretation of the text, in an attempt to regain his authorial autonomy without sinking into the generality of the metaphorical language of literature.