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Forms of dissidence: 'Celestino antes del alba' and 'El mundo alucinante' by Reinaldo Arenas

Whitfield, Joey 2020. Forms of dissidence: 'Celestino antes del alba' and 'El mundo alucinante' by Reinaldo Arenas. New Readings 17 (1) , pp. 1-19. 10.18573/newreadings.111

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This article analyses the formal properties of Reinaldo Arenas’s first two novels Celestino antes del alba (1967) and El mundo alucinante (1968) in light of his statement that all of his work is related to the revolution whether he wanted it to be or not. Drawing on other critics who have examined the parallels between Arenas’s persecution for his sexuality and his persecution as a writer, I look at how the formal innovations of these novels depend on the revolution. Unlike his subsequent novels, Celestino and El mundo were written before Arenas became a pariah and were intended for publication in Cuba. I argue therefore that although their engagement with the revolution is oppositional, Arenas is still able to ethically derive certain formal pleasures within this antagonistic power relation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Modern Languages
Additional Information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. URL:
ISSN: 1359-7485
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 March 2019
Date of Acceptance: 4 April 2019
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2020 15:00

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