Carpentier, Alejo

Carpentier, Alejo

Carpentier, Alejo (älāˈhō kärpĕntyārˈ), 1904–80, Cuban novelist and musicologist. As a political exile in Paris between 1928 and 1939, Carpentier was strongly influenced by Antonin Artaud, Jacques Prévert, and the surrealists. Reflecting his deep commitment to revolutionary politics, his novels explore the irrational elements of the Latin American world, its rich variety of cultures, and the possibility of its magical transformation. Widely regarded as one of the greatest modern Latin American writers, Carpentier was also important as a theorist of the region's literature and historian of its music. Among his works are Ecue-Yamba-O (1933), The Lost Steps (1953; tr. 1956), The Chase (1956; tr. 1989), The Kingdom of This World (1949, tr. 1957), The War of Time (1963, tr. 1970), Reasons of State (1974; tr. 1976), and The Harp and the Shadow (1979; tr. 1990).


See studies by M. Adams (1975), F. Janney (1981), D. Shaw (1985), and R. Echevarriá (1977, rev. ed. 1990).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Carpentier, Alejo


Born Dec. 26, 1904, in Havana. Cuban writer.

Carpentier began his literary activity in the 1920’s and belonged to the Group of the Minority. He also edited the progressive journal Revista de avance. He lived as an émigré in Paris (1928–39) and in Venezuela (1945–59). After the victory of the revolution of 1959, Carpentier participated in Cuba’s social and cultural life.

His early writing is connected with “Afro-Cubism,” a literary movement that drew on the dual (European and African) sources of Cuba’s culture. Carpentier’s first novel was Afro-Cubist: Ecue Jamba-o (1933) naturalistically depicted the religious rites of the Negroes. In the 1940’s he made comparisons between Latin America and Western Europe in his works, noting common features of historical and cultural development. The historical novella Earthly Kingdom (1949; Russian translation, 1962) deals with the revolution in Haiti at the turn of the 19th century and the mythological element of the Negro collective consciousness.

Carpentier’s novel Lost Traces (1953; Russian translation, 1964) demonstrates the simultaneous existence of different stages of history in Latin America. His multilevel historical novel The Age of Enlightenment (1962; Russian translation, 1968) raises the problem of the special character of the history of Latin America’s development.


In Russian translation:
Muzyka Kuby. Moscow, 1962.


Dashkevich, lu. “Alekho Karpent’er: romanist i ego mir.” Inostrannaia literatura, 1970, nO. 7.
Marques Rodríguez, A. La obra narrativa de A. Carpentier. [Caracas, 1970.]


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Carpentier, Alejo. "Confesiones sencillas de un escritor barroco".
Carpentier, Alejo. "The City of Columns." Baroque New Worlds: Representation, Transculturation, Counterconquest.
Carpentier, Alejo. The Lost Steps (Cuba, fiction, 1953)