Cuban Culture and Cultural Relations, 1959-

The Vertical Archive of the Casa de las Américas, Part 2: Writers

• More than 63,800 digital files
• Records on 1,046 writers and artists
• Full-text search functionality
• Including MARC21 catalog records

Founded in Havana in 1959, only a few months after the Revolution, Casa de las Américas quickly developed into one of the most prestigious cultural centers in Latin America and the Caribbean. To a large extent its success and survival are the result of its capacity to establish a remarkable intellectual network around a common vision. When during the early years of the Revolution many foreign embassies closed their doors, Casa de las Américas offered a space for progressive minds to exchange information and discuss new ideas. Here, writers and artists from Latin America, the Caribbean and other parts of the world met and gave lectures, organized concerts and exhibitions, staged theater shows, conducted research, and found a place to publish their writings. The record of their activities, which continue to this day, are preserved in Casa de las Américas’ archive, presented here in digital format for the first time.

The Vertical Archive
Casa de las Américas is home to a large library specializing in Latin American and Caribbean humanities and social sciences. Throughout its almost six decades of existence, this library has amassed and preserved an unparalleled archival collection known as “the Vertical Archive.” Organized in five parts, the present part, Writers, offers a unique insight into the activities of the more than a thousand writers and artists who visited La Casa.

Writers
Famous writers from the twentieth century form the core of the collection. Here one encounters such luminaries as Jorge Amado, Mario Benedetti, Roberto Bolaño, María Luisa Bombal, Jorge Luis Borges, Alejo Carpentier, Aimé Césaire, Julio Cortázar, Roque Dalton and Gabriel García Márquez, to name but a few. Some of the leading writers from the nineteenth century are also represented, including José Martí and the pioneer Brazilian novelist Machado de Assis. These world-renowned figures are accompanied by hundreds of their arguably less illustrious peers, who are nevertheless equally essential to illustrate the cultural climate and history of the era.

Artists
In addition to writers, the archive includes files on painters, such as Roberto Matta and David Alfaro Siqueiros, filmmakers, such as Santiago Álvarez and Glauber Rocha, and musicians, such as Chilean singer-songwriter and political activist Víctor Jara.

International avant-garde
The intellectual climate of Havana and the Casa de las Américas attracted thinkers and artists from all over the world. As a result, the documents in the Vertical Archive allow students and researchers to discover new information on various members of the international intellectual and cultural avant-garde, such as Rafael Alberti, Vicente Aleixandre, Max Aub, Luis Buñuel, Italo Calvino, Allen Ginsberg and Jean-Paul Sartre.

Materials
A large part of the collection consists of press clippings, sent to Casa de las Américas by donors and librarians from abroad or hand-delivered by visitors. The institution’s own researchers added to the collection by preserving all sorts of records; to a large extent, this concerns ephemeral documentation that is virtually impossible to find elsewhere, as much of it derives from non-indexed sources or even cable wires and never appeared in the press.

The Writers section of the Vertical Archive bears testimony to a vibrant culture, seen through the eyes of its protagonists. This online edition offers the user unprecedented access to the primary sources documenting a pivotal time in Cuban cultural history.

Jorge Fornet, Havana

Online : Institutional outright purchase price

EUR  €10,660.00USD  $12,500.00
Project advisor: Arien González Crespo, Director, Casa de las Américas Library
Project coordinator: Johan Vogel, CEO, Scan2Preserve
Introduction text: Jorge Fornet Gil, Director, Centro de Investigaciones Literarias; Co-director, La Revista Casa de las Américas
Centers for Latin American Studies, Literary Studies Departments, historians of Latin American and Caribbean culture, scholars and students working on the cultural, literary, social and political history of Revolutionary Cuba.