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Paperback Before Night Falls: A Memoir Book

ISBN: 0140157654

ISBN13: 9780140157659

Before Night Falls: A Memoir

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Book Overview

"Any attempt to reckon with Cuba's torturous twentieth century will have to take into account Arenas's monumental work ... an essential human testimony, joyful and enraged, a triumph of conscience." -- Garth Greenwell

The acclaimed memoir of queer Cuban author Reinaldo Arenas chronicling his tumultuous yet luminary life, from his impoverished upbringing in Cuba to his imprisonment at the hands of a Communist regime

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Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Una vida sin suerte, pero un mensaje vital

Después de haber visto la pelicula de Julian Schnabel 'Before Night Falls', no pude olvidar los imagenes y las experiencias del escritor. Por eso, decidí comprar el libro, y eso fue una compra que verdaderamente valió la pena. En mi opinión, como lector, me sentí más cercana a los horrores que aguantó Arenas. En las propias palabras, escrito de una manera muy fluente y, a pesar del contexto, elegante, era más fácil entender la importancia de la libertad para el ser humano. Al otro lado, las cuestiones muy grandes sobre el alma de la persona, la capacidad de infligir daños a otros, el papel del gobierno en la vida privada de personas, la unión probable de la brutadlidad y el poder, el papel contaminante de la política en el mundo de los artes......estos pensamientos producen una inquietud que perdura en el mente. En fin, se dice que la verdad es más extraña que la ficción. El sufrimiento de Arenas tiene que ser leido porque es inconcebible, pero las experiencias llevan una lección muy fuerte y universal - que la dignidad de la persona está muy vinculado a la libertad.

Antes que amanezca.

Incomparablemente revelador, grosero y vulgar en ocasiones, profundamente sincero y conmovedoramente humano es este libro de quien ya se considera una de las figuras imprescindibles de la literatura cubana de la segunda mitad del siglo XX. En efecto, Reinaldo Arenas describe en esta obra ese mundo cruel de la Cuba castrista, de las persecuciones, de las represiones; ese mundo bajo y alucinante en que ha sido sumida la sociedad cubana en nombre de una supuesta ideologia, donde los que son sencillamente diferentes no tienen lugar. Con un lenguaje que raya lo prohibido, Arenas describe la realidad que le toco vivir de una forma clara y precisa, llamando las cosas por su nombre, sin guardar silencio para con nadie segun su propio punto de vista. Cercano como pocos a esa intelectualidad cubana que posteriormente la revolucion heredo (Vitier, Guillen, Fernandez Retamar, Eliseo Diego, P. Armando Fernandez y otros) describe el grado de sumision e insinceridad intelectual que mostraron tales personajes en vida, montandose en el carro rojo sin desearlo realmente. "Antes que anochezca" es, en efecto, la historia de una vida de sufrimientos, de penurias, de incomprensiones, de represalias, de intolerancias y de descalabros que a alguien le toco vivir en la Cuba de Fidel Castro. Lean esta obra todos aquellos que aun no lo han hecho, leanla con la esperanza de encontrar algo positivo para poder hacer las cosas bien en nuestra Patria cuando definitivamente amanezca en ella.

Different than, but equally as good as, the film

Reinaldo Arenas, Before Night Falls (Penguin, 1993)Arenas' memoir of life in Cuba has recently been made into one of the finest films extant by Julian Schnabel. Schnabel did an excellent job with the book; while his interpretation of the text was loose in places, he managed to capture in images the style of Arenas' writing.In other words, if you saw the movie before reading the book, you're going to be somewhat surprised. Some of Schnabel's more memorable scenes are mentioned in passing (if at all) in the book, and one of the film's central sequences, the balloon escape, gets one sentence. Where Arenas and Schnabel intersect is in the lushness, the ability to find celebration and remarkable beauty inside the ugliness of the Castro regime (and, for a few years' worth, the Batista regime before it).Arenas' memoir is also likely to shock more than a few in its sexual explicitness (another aspect Schnabel rather shied away from, which I found a tad surprising while reading the book), but so be it. There is nothing gratuitous about either Arenas' promiscuity or his literary descriptions of it; it's no different than using the language of excess to describe the beastliness of a life that involves hand-to-mouth poverty and political censure. And throughout, more than anything (and perhaps this is what makes the book so powerful), Before Night Falls is a celebration, both of Arenas' life and the lives of many other Cuban writers persecuted as dissidents in the latter half of the twentieth century. **** 1/2

A brutal look at our modern world

Arenas is neither a fan of capitalism nor communism, but don't let his political views temper your reading of this amazing memoir. Beginning in Cuba when he was just a child who licked dirt, this story takes us on a ride from the downfall of Batista to the rise of Castro, and the oppression suffered by gays, artists, women and all those who did not fit into Castro's Cuba. Arenas' tale is a powerful one, and not for the faint of heart. I am not referring here to the homosexuality in the book, I am referring to the graphic descriptions of life in prison that Arenas underwent. That alone is enough to make one put down the book for a while, and take a stroll. In the end, this book is a wonderful, untempered look at rebellion, and escape. Arenas is not the sad, gentle soul telling a tale. rather, this book is full of fire and anger, and makes it that much more satisfying. I highly recommend this book to anybody who has taken freedom for granted (and that includes me).

Going back

It is most reassuring to see that a film based on Arenas' extraordinary book "Before Night Falls" is gaining the kudos and exposure this underrated (in this country at least)author deserves. I first read this book when it was translated and released in 1993 and seeing the film only made me hasten to return to the original book. Time has aged the eloquence of this memoir but has not marred the impact of the brilliance of the writing. Arenas wrote with a degree of truth and keen observation that makes his moments of antics with his characters like comic relief in a Shakespearean play. For obvious reasons the film (brilliantly directed by Julian Schnabel and acted by Javier Bardem as Arenas) could not dwell on some of the elements that make the book so unique: the extended description of life in Cuban prisons is only touched on. But the single most significant rediscovery in reading "Before Night Falls" again is Arenas' poetry. He had a gift of distilling Magical Realism, transforming even the radical ugliness of Castro's Cuba into the topical paradise so beloved by Cubans everywhere. See the film, but let that experience introduce you to the rich literary output of one of the most exciting writers of the last century.
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