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Carpentier, Alejo

Born:
December 26, 1904
Dead:
April 22, 1980

Cuban author, who was born in Lausanne in Switzerland but moved with his parents to Havana when newly born. His father was a French architect, his mother a Russian language professor. Alejo Carpentier spent a large part of his life abroad. When he was twelve, the family took up residence in Paris, where he began studying music. When the family returned to Cuba, the young Carpentier began studying architecture, though he did not finish these studies. Instead, he began working as a cultural journalist with a major interest in avant-garde movements and later as a columnist with left-wing sympathies. In 1927, he signed a manifesto for democracy and anti-imperialism against the regime of the dictator Machado. He spent 40 days in prison, and it was during this time that he started working on his first novel. Ecue-yamba-o! was not finished until 1933 and is about afro-cuban traditions among the poor population. In 1928 Carpentier went to France, using a false passport. There he continued fighting Machado's dictatorship and came in contact with surrealism and its leading representatives such as André Breton, Robert Desnos and Jacques Prévert among others. The cultural life of Paris – in particular the surrealists but also magazines and artistic projects – influenced Carpentier's budding authorship positively.

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