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Cuba, an island 750 miles long, with a population of about 11 million, lies less than 100 miles off the U.S. coast. Yet the island's influences on America's cultural imagination are extensive and deeply ingrained. In the engaging and wide-ranging "Havana Habit", writer and scholar Gustavo Perez Firmat probes the importance of Havana, and of greater Cuba, in the cultural history of the United States. Through books, advertisements, travel guides, films, and music, he demonstrates the influence of the island on almost two centuries of American life. From John Quincy Adams' comparison of Cuba to an apple ready to drop into America's lap, to the latest episodes in the lives of the 'comic comandantes and exotic exiles', and to such notable Cuban exports as the rumba and the mambo, cigars and mojitos, the Cuba that emerges from these pages is a locale that Cubans and Americans have jointly imagined and inhabited. The "Havana Habit" deftly illustrates what makes Cuba, as Perez Firmat writes, "so near and yet so foreign".
The "idle fictions" of the vanguard novel of the 1920s and 1930s in Spain and Spanish America represented a kind of interlude of playfulness--a vacation or parenthetical insertion--in what was perceived as the established course of the modern Hispanic novel's development. Yet, as Pérez Firmat argues, though this genre saw itself as recreative and interstitial, it deliberately precipitated "a class war not between social classes but between literary classes. " Concentrating on source material not widely available, Pérez Firmat reconstructs the reception these novels received at the time of their publication, then develops a reading of them based on the intellectual context of this reception. A new preface and an appendix on vanguard biographies have been added to this paperback edition.
This is a personal account of a young Cuban's departure from his native country and his assimilation of American culture and values, including marriage to an American, raising an American family, teaching at an American university....
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