Peter Hulme

[First paragraph]Caliban and otheressays, by ROBERTO FERNANDEZ RETAMAR. (Translatedby Edward Baker, Foreword by Fredric Jameson.) Minneapolis: Universityof Minnesota Press, 1989. xvi + 139 pp. (Cloth US $35.00, Paper US$14.95)Deconstructing America: representations of the other, by PETER MASON.London: Routledge, 1990. vii + 216 pp. (Cloth £ 30.00)Both these books beiong to a field of study that aims to analyze the ways in which Europe, or more generally the West, has represented to itself in words and images the non-European world. Edward Said's Orientalism inaugurated that field in 1978, immediately constituting a corpus of work through its author's recognition of precedent and analogue, then acting as indispensable touchstone to the subsequent development of the field during the 1980s. Although Said's work deals with the oriënt, however defined, a surprising amount of ideological analysis of colonial representation had already taken place within the Caribbean. Frantz Fanon, Eric Williams, and Aimé Césaire were three notable precursors recognized by Said; and Roberto Fernéndez Retamar's essays, especially those written in the late 1960s and early 1970s, pursued many similar themes within the rather different context of the Cuban Revolution. Four of those essays are now published in English, along with a more recent reflection on the most famous of them, "Caliban."

Peter Hulme

Critique of recent attempts to make sense of the history and anthropology of the native Caribbean. These works are based on the writings of Columbus and his companions and assume that there were 2 tribes: the Arawaks and Caribs. Author argues however that much work is needed to untangle the complex imbrication of native Caribbean and European colonial history.

Peter Hulme

[First paragraph]Graham Greene’s novel Our Man in Havana was published on October 6, 1958. Seven days later Greene arrived in Havana with Carol Reed to arrange for the filming of the script of the novel, on which they had both been working. Meanwhile, after his defeat of the summer offensive mounted by the Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista, in the mountains of eastern Cuba, just south of Bayamo, Fidel Castro had recently taken the military initiative: the day after Greene and Reed’s arrival on the island, Che Guevara reached Las Villas, moving westwards towards Havana. Six weeks later, on January 1, 1959, after Batista had fled the island, Castro and his Cuban Revolution took power. In April 1959 Greene and Reed were back in Havana with a film crew to film Our Man in Havana. The film was released in January 1960. A note at the beginning of the film says that it is “set before the recent revolution.” In terms of timing, Our Man in Havana could therefore hardly be more closely associated with the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. But is that association merely accidental, or does it involve any deeper implications? On the fiftieth anniversary of novel, film, and Revolution, that seems a question worth investigating, not with a view to turning Our Man in Havana into a serious political novel, but rather to exploring the complexities of the genre of comedy thriller and to bringing back into view some of the local contexts which might be less visible now than they were when the novel was published and the film released.