Raúl Hernández Novás, essayist

By: Daniel Céspedes Góngora

Libro Raúl Hernández Novás. Ensayos

“As we read we experience a curious greed to continue, not only for the interest that awakens us, but also for the qualities of its careful prose, always attentive to significant nuances that are presented to us with undoubted success”.
Enrique Saínz

The appearance of the volume Essays, by Raúl Hernández Novás (Editorial Fund Casa de las Américas, 2018), a compendium prologated by the critic, researcher and academic Enrique Saínz, rescues the essay prose scattered in cultural journals such as Casa de las Américas, La Gaceta de Cuba… of who was widely celebrated poet among his own contemporaries and even for other generations who have approached his books of the eighties and nineties (Da capo, Animal civil, Sonetos a Gelsomina and Atlas jumps). Do not forget also the intellectual deferences that ensofied in its different moments to make poetry (2000) and Other Poems known (2015).
Already this work of localization and grouping would become the first merit of a book that aspires to vertebrate – and we admit that it succeeds – to Raúl Hernández Novás (1948-1993) essayist. Now, coupling all these texts (twenty-three in total) means that, if not, the reader is more attached to some of them by themes or figures and even by the writing itself, which seems to respond to a single way of conceiving itself. But the advancement in reading reveals to us a rehearsing of various tones, purposes and extensions that, of course, glimpse both the author and his preferences or assiduities.1 Distinctions also tend to reveal what is not to be addressed. Keep the above in mind, because in Hernández Novás it is not incapacity or disappointment. Quite simply, there were matters that were not of interest to him. It is from what he writes and analyzes how much we should care, not his desanimos or our liking, although he knew how to take distance and even cover up his tastes to achieve greater persistence, lucidity and impartiality criticism.
Surprising when, encountering references about the cinema of Douglas Sirk, Pedro Almodóvar and David Lynch, we attended the transfers of literature to film since the Argentine-American co-production The Kiss of spider woman, Manuel Puig’s novel that, directed by Héctor Babenco, stimulates the aim of Novás: “The American industry has always been revealed not only as a tempting field but as an excellent school of the trade. But the trade taught by American cinema serves to make, above all, good American films” (p. 300). Here writes the critic of literature who, knowing necessarily about the seventh art, has to use it to illustrate what is inevitable: the tyrant relationships between film and literature or vice versa. His commentary is not only enriched, but ascends to unsettle the expectant reader himself. That’s why in “The Spider Woman Challenge” and, above all, in “Post Script: More about Puig, Kisses and Spiders”, there is also in rigor, film criticism.
More than lessons, we find proposals for interpretation uneasy, not definitive. And yet each text gives room for the reader’s input as if he wanted to hear it. By turning the essayist to the descriptive story, one feels that it is not limited. But it’s a slip of appreciation. He doesn’t need to specify the marrow of what he finds. It is, from the possible reservations of a text before others, but already close to rereading, that the essayist departs and returns. And there, where a privileged relating self could glorify himself, we warn the historian presto, without solving human riddles, such as Oedipus/Michelet, to consider past conquests, resurfaced to the present, to enlighten him. This would be Ezekiel’s metaphor for the image of the bone-gathering historian who also renews the creative dust of humanity.2 Purposely repairs “Name things: Elisha Diego”, an eye-catching text that, like those concerning Vallejo and Octavian Paz,” also allows us to assess the interartistic associations frequent in the essayism of Novás.
With these essays a reality is once again corroborated: our most enlightened writing reflections almost always emanate from indispensable poets. However, this does not mean that they try at all times – even at intervals – to make poetic prose. It is not a forced condition to achieve an excellent test. From this and other requirements was very clear Raúl Hernández Novás. Ω

1 Compare if not a pleasant writing such as “The Popular Singing of Meals” with the overwhelming “Towards the Homeland of guatemalan”. And, despite its inequalities in hechuras and purposes, in both transits the penetrating analyst armed by the writer insightful in judgments and very attentive with language.
2 View by Roland Barthes: Michelet, translation by Jorge Ferreiro, Mexico, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1988.

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