Novelist Francisco Goldman talks about José Martí, a seminal figure in the birth of the Cuban nation. The talk focuses on Martí’s years in exile in New York (1878-1895), where he worked as a journalist, and later organized and raised funds for the revolutionary force which would eventually overthrow the Spanish. Goldman’s informative history is followed by a reading of several excerpts from Martí’s prose, including a piece about the 1884 presidential campaign between James G. Blaine and Grover Cleveland, in which Martí makes the following ever-timely remarks:
It’s hard and nauseating, a presidential campaign in the United States. The mud comes up to the chairs. … They lie and exaggerate knowingly. They stab each other in the belly and in the back. Every defamation is treated as legitimate. Every blow is good, as long as it staggers the enemy. He who invents an effective slander can strut proudly. An observer of good faith has no idea how to analyze a battle in which everyone considers it legitimate to campaign in bad faith.
Goldman also reads from Martí’s “New York Under the Snow,” about the great blizzard of 1888, “Tributes to Karl Marx, Who Has Died,” and a description of the beach at Coney Island containing the memorable line “this immense valve of pleasure open to an immense people.”
From the 2004 Key West Literary Seminar: Crossing Borders: The Immigrant Voice in American Literature. This lecture was given in the auditorium of the San Carlos Institute, which served as Martí’s operational base in Key West, and which each January hosts all KWLS readings, discussions, and lectures. Goldman will be joining us again in 2009, when we turn to Historical Fiction and The Search for Truth. His novel The Divine Husband (2004) is an account of the love affair between Martí and María de las Nieves, famous throughout Latin America as “La niña de Guatemala, La que se murió de amor” (the girl from guatemala, she who died from love).
(48:20) / 22 MB
From KWLS 2004: Crossing Borders