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Cuban Literature in the Age of Black InsurrectionManzano, Plácido, and Afro-Latino Religion$
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Matthew Pettway

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781496824967

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2020

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496824967.001.0001

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African-Cuban Spirituality and Emancipation in the Literature of Juan Francisco Manzano

(p.120) Chapter Four Present but Unseen
Cuban Literature in the Age of Black Insurrection

Matthew Pettway

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter discusses how Juan Francisco Manzano created two apparently contradictory freedom narratives: the first grounded in Enlightenment ideals of liberty and the second one premised on the secret powers of African-inspired ritual.By privileging Manzano’s slave narrative and his unpublished poetry, this chapter deciphers the way he wrote about spirit presence, the sacred wilderness and the ritual of escape.Poems such as “A Dream: For My Second Brother,” “The Poet’s Vision Composed on a Sugar Plantation,” “Poesies,” and “Desperation” explore African ideas of spirit and cosmos as part of a larger antislavery philosophy.The dream motif, the mountain wilderness, transfiguration, anachronism and magical flight emerges as Romantic tropes that created space for an African-Cuban religious persona in Manzano’s poetry and prose.In this way, the notion that Manzano assimilated to Spanish Catholicism unproblematically is contested and disproven.

Keywords:   Juan Francisco Manzano, African ritual, Elegguá, Dreams, abolition

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