Reinaldo Arenas Letters to Jorge and Margarita Camacho
Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]
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Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990) was a Cuban poet, novelist, and playwright.
He was born in the Oriente province of Cuba, near the city of Holguín on July 16, 1943. As a teenager Arenas joined the revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power in 1959. In 1962, he moved to Havana to enroll in the School of Planification and, later, in the Faculty of Letters at the University of Havana, where he studied philosophy and literature without completing a degree. The following year, he began working at the Biblioteca Nacional José Martí and continued to work there until 1967. During this time he wrote a number of short stories and the novel Celestino antes del alba, which won a First Mention Award at the Cirilo Villaverde National Competition in 1965 and was published by UNEAC (National Union of Cuban Writers and Artists) in 1967. Celestino antes del alba was the only novel Arenas wrote and published in Cuba. From 1966 to 1970 Arenas discreetly worked on Otra vez el mar a following title to Arenas' Pentagonia series. He gave the manuscript to Aurelio Cortés for safekeeping though the latter destroyed the manuscript. There are differing accounts of how the manuscript was destroyed and why. Arenas went on to re-write Otra vez el mar two other times before publishing it in 1987. From 1968 to 1974 he was a journalist and editor for the literary magazine La Gaceta de Cuba.
Arenas grew critical of Castro's government and was imprisoned for his writings and open homosexuality. In 1973, he was sent to prison after being charged and convicted for "ideological deviation" and for publishing his writings abroad without official consent. After escaping from prison he attempted to leave Cuba by launching himself to shore on a tire inner tube. He was caught and imprisoned at the infamous El Morro Castle and released in 1976. In 1980, as part of the mass emigration of Cubans during Mariel Boatlift, he was exiled in the United States. He took permanent residence in New York City and was diagnosed with AIDS in 1987. He continued to write and speak out against the Castro government for the remainder of his life. After battling AIDS, Arenas died of an intentional overdose of drugs and alcohol on December 7, 1990.
Consists of 136 letters sent by Reinaldo Arenas to Margarita and Jorge Camacho. Also contains 35 letters by Arenas' mother, Oneida Fuentes, to Margarita and Jorge Camacho.
Purchased from Margarita Camacho in 2012 (AM 2013-20).
Folder inventory added 2012 by Feng Zhu '14.
No materials were separated during 2012 processing.
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