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From Serf to Self: The Autobiography of Juan Francisco Manzano Author(s): Sylvia Molloy Reviewed work(s): Source: MLN

, Vol. 104, No. 2, Hispanic Issue (Mar., 1989), pp. 393-417 Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2905146 . Accessed: 12/02/2012 10:33
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The Autobiography From Serf Self: to
Manzano ofJuanFrancisco
Sylvia Molloy
"The lady Dofia Beatriz de JustizMarchioness Justizde Santa Ana, wife of Don Juan Manzano, took pleasure everytimeshe went to her famous estate of El Molino in choosing the prettiest Creole girls, when they were ten or eleven years of age; she took themwithher and gave theman education suitable to their class and condition so her house was always filled with servants. ..." ["La Sra. Da. Beatriz de Justiz MarquezaJustiz de Sta. Ana, esposa del Sor. Don Juan Manzano, tenia gusto de cada vez qe. iva a su famosa asienda el Molino de tomar las mas bonitas criollas,cuando eran de dies a onse afios; las traia consigo y dandoles una educaci6n conformea su clase y condision, estaba siempre su casa llena de criadas.. ..'T
' Juan Francisco Manzano, Autobiografia, dejuan Fco. Manzano,with y cartas versos a preliminary studybyJose L. Franco (La Habana: Municipio de La Habana, 1937), syntaxand uncertain p. 33. This edition, unlike others, retains the idiosyncratic spellingof Manzano's originalmanuscriptof 1835. I shall quote fromit,indicating itself. shall I page numbersin parenthesesonlywhen quoting fromtheAutobiografia translate Manzano's toneas best I can, respectingthe run-in constructionof his sentences,his punctuationand the belabored nature of his syntax.I shall not attempt,however,to reproduce his misspellings.This seems to me preferable(and surely fairer to Manzano) than quoting from the much altered, cleaned up and of ideologicallyconditioned English translation 1840 published in Poemsbya Slave fromtheSpanishbyR. R. Madden, Translated Liberated; in theIsland of Cuba, Recently to Are by NegroPoet,Written Himself, Which of EarlyLifeofthe the M.D. with History the By of PrefixedTwo Pieces Descriptive Cuban Slaveryand the Slave-Traffic, R.R.M. (London: Thomas Ward and Co., 1840). I find it equally inadvisable to translate fromIvan Schulman's modernized edition (Juan Francisco Manzano, Autobiograffa de un esclavo,ed. Ivan A. Schulman [Madrid: Guadarrama, 1975]). I shall discuss these and other manicured versionsof Manzano later on.

arbitrary its punctuation. my mother" (33) for chief handmaid. quite obviously. is deceptivelyinnocent. Nor. in Autobiografia. not of his masters but of his readers. another of the Marquesa's slaves. was the customary.life-giving ence of Beatriz de Justizmust per forceopen Manzano's lifestory the since she is. on That the slave's life should depend so totally a gesturefrom his owner. benevolentprescomes a founding. unusual in ninecolonial Cuba: "rememberwhen you read me that teenth-century I am a slave and that the slave is a dead being in the eyes of his Domingo Del Monte. on one of his lady's visitsto El Molino. of course. not unlike the opening of so novels.this textis. lifeto thatdead being in the eyes Manzano brings hisAutobiografia.Juan Francisco Manzano.In thisway. 2 p. as might appear. the Marquesa's grandson.how Maria del Pilar gave birthto a child of her own. The initial focus on his mistressis elaborated upon in the lines that follow. with another gesture.as a culminationof this tortuousgenealogy binding the slave to his master. is it a particularlyharmonious piece: unsystematic its in spelling.nonchalantin its syntax.presidingover life and death. instead. and in The circumstances whichthisautobiographywas written.the beginningof the autobiography the Marquesa's slave.For it is many nineteenth-century not. Manzano tells how. also life-giving. allows him to be born. He replaces the mistress' founding gesture. eventually. quite literally. Juan With the same carefree syntaxand quirky orthography. child was not given his father'ssurname but thatof his master.2In master. or that the slave's familyromance should be so enmeshed in that of his master'sis not. the beginning of a novel told by a thirdperson narratorof which the Marquesa is the principalcharacter. she chose "one Maria del Pilar Manzano. and. power that. whichhe himselfeffects-his own writing.394 SYLVIAMOLLOY This casual anecdotal beginning. 84."writesManzano to his protector. .different. Francisco Manzano goes on to narratewhat appears to be the first and only slave narrativepublished in Spanish America. how the handmaid married Toribio de Castro.the Marquesa's mundane visitto El Molino sallyingforthat five)be(an ironicantecedentof Valery'smarquise gesture: the aged. even as he describes it. Letterof 25 June 1835. how Maria del Pilar wet-nursedManuel de Cardenas y Manzano. of it is. as the Spanish originalclearly in shows. As the Juan Francisco Manzano who writesthe Autobiograftia.

4 Francisco Calcagno. but the entireautobiographywas considered unpubaccount of the tumultuousrelationsbetweenEn3For a concise and informative see gland and Spain (and hence Cuba) on the issue of slavery. which was also to be part of the Del Monte antislavery dossier. Manzano's life storywas correctedand edited by a memberof Del Monte's group. the Century (Madison. Milwaukee and London: Slave Society Cuba during Nineteenth in of University Wisconsin Press. are of singular interest. 1976). 1970).M L N 395 the fortuneof the text thereafter. Moreno Fraginals.As a domestic cityslave who taught himselfto read and writeagainst remarkableodds (I shall return to this issue. 64. Francisco. p. FranklinW. especially Chapter III: "The Cuban Slave Trade. 1887). himselfthe author of an abolitionist novel." For an overall vision of slaveryin Cuba. Anselmo Suarez y Romero.Domingo Del Monte. in order to publicize the cause of abolitionabroad. . A poet of some renown. taking up a collection. FranciscoCalcagno was able to integrate ments of the text in his Poetas de color. 1838-1865. (Havana: Imprenta Mercantilde los Herederos de Santiago Spencer. Manzano's manuscript(which remained the propertyof Domingo Del Monte) circulatedclandestinely in del Monte's milieu. Del Monte and his friends obtained his manumissionin 1836. and he was encouraged in his literary ventures by that group. The Socioeconomic 1760-1860 (New York and London: MonthlyReviewPress.a series of biographies of Black poets. The text was to be included in a dossier that Del Monte was compiling for Richard Madden."4 Thanks to the occasional slackeningof censeveralfragsorshiplaws. served as arbiterin the Court of Mixed Commission established in Havana in 1835. unless otherwiseindicated.3 Once completed. Manzano wrotea two-part autobiography narratinghis miserable life as a slave. This and all othertranslations are mine. quite central to my discussion). the Britishmagistratewho. In Cuba. Manzano's autobiography was another: at Del Monte's request. One result of these contacts was Manzano's freedom. to the point that "when someone understood thathe mentions'the autobiography'it is immediately speaks of Manzano's. toConventionheld getherwitha report. Knight. referenceto Manuel Complexof Sugar in Cuba. is indispensable. as superintendantof liberated Africans.his slave statusnotwithstanding. The Sugarmill.Manzano standsout amongsthis peers. 4th ed. Manzano's text was translated into English by Madden (not so Suarez y Romero's Francisco)and presented. note 1.at the General Anti-Slavery in London in 1840. became in the 1830's he the protege of the reformistalthough not openly abolitionist Cuban intellectualswho gathered around the liberal writerand publicist. Poetasde color.

besides having dispossession for its subject. Blassingame's introductionto his edition of Slave Testimony. of Press. in its very composition at and publication.it was all Manzano's Virtuallyunknownfor nearlya century.Manzano's autobiography an inordinatelymanipulated text-a slave narrativethat. the-editors to pronouncements the text would add factualdetailsor rhetorical 5 See John W.5 As often as not. Until then. details. it was translatedand altered by another (Madden). Manipulationof one kind or another is a frequentenough phenomenon.then dictatedto thateditor. reportsof legislatures.a textused by others over which Manzano had. it was correctedand edited by another (Suarez y Romero). one a no control.books written southernwhitesor newspapers edited by them. dictationmightbe completedin a fewweeksor be spread over twoor threeyears. the editor frequently tive.That the textwas used to further worthy close to Manzano's heart. editor.396 SYLVIAMOLLOY lishable.dispossessed. at least until 1898. Once the the white man persuaded the black to record his experiences for posterity. If the fugitivebelieved that the white man truly of respected blacks. of course.and courts. 1977): University Generallythe formerslave lived in the same locale as the editor and had given oral accounts of his bondage. asking for elaboration of certain Often the editor read the storyto the fugitive. of course. xxii) theysometimesinterrogated authenticity. in North American slave narratives. in short. Madden's somewhat special English translationwas the only version of Manzano's autobiographyavailable to the general reader. Autobiographies Speeches. It was written the request of another (Del Monte). By then. apparently.for politicalreasons. but forgotten. southernsources: official by agriculturalsocieties.who would then read it back to textwould The transcribed for its originalstoryteller clarification. The appendices consisted almost entirely of evidence obtained from churches. When the dictaof points and clarification confusingand contradictory compiled appendices to corroboratethe narration ended. The then discussed with the slave's storywas usually told orally first. it was published for the firsttime in its entiretyin 1937. Centuries Letters. (p. Two and (Baton Rouge: Louisiana Interviews. . It was.governors.littleor cause. it was integratedinto another's text (Calcagno). If those among the editor's friendswho firstheard the storydoubted its for the fugitive hours. manuscriptpassed on to Del Monte's heirs and was fifty-two-page eventuallyacquired by the Biblioteca Nacional in Havana. was. does not lessen the importanceof that manipulation. to condition its reception. was As maybe seen fromthisaccount.theydiscussed the advisability publishinghis account. to thenbe complementedwithother testimonies supportit and.

the mediation of a white scribe to give shape to words he himselfcould only speak. mentorfor Manzano well Del Monte played the role of literary before the autobiographical project. be considered in detail. p. the so many membersof minorities two principal mediators were Del Monte and Madden. relatively established poet. is (besides being a slave) a writer. [A]ntislavery societiespublished less than 20 percentof the antebellumblack autobiographies. "on occasion the narrativescontain so many of of the editors'views that there is littleroom for the testimony the fugitive.. and a near total reliance on Del Monte that amounts to grantinghim absolute power over the poems: 6 Accordingto Blassingame. few reviewsof the slave narrativesin abolitionist There were also comparatively journals.these transcribed were not high on the list narratives who much preferredBlacks to lectureabout their held by abolitionists..M L N 397 so as to enhance its dramatic effect. Yet Manzano does but need the whiteman's mediation-not forhis textto be written are slave narratives worksin collaboraforit to be read. the time he composes wella he his lifestory. Manzano's reaction to Del Monte's reception of his poems seems excessive. xxix) 7 Blassingame.This was not an exceptional role for him. His lettersreveal unconditional faith in the critic'sliteraryopinion.a mediated text.and his magistewho sought rial influence was recognized by many young writers his guidance. the instiin whose interest Manzano needs now to gator and the translator. and would not seem to need.. his textmustbe incorporatedinto the whiteliterary (and thusvalidatedby it) ifit is to be heeded at all. Even so. when Manzano was writing poetry.. of priorities lives and thus reach a wider audience: of on narratives former low priority the written placed a relatively [Abolitionists] preferredto base his indictments slaves as propaganda.In Manzano's case.. xxviii. Inevitably. (Blassingame. as John Blassinmeaning editingwas not withoutits pitfalls game points out.one unavoidhave describedand the so ably fostering twoness manyblack writers have felt. to tion since. unending gratitude for his help.on his own.in one form or another."7 At Manzano's case is obviouslydifferent. Generallythe abolitionist of slaveryon the writingsof southern whites. as did so many North American slaves. p. It establishment is always.. . the slave lacks the authority plead against his condition.6This creative and wellsince. The main propaganda role played by blacks in the abolition movementwas as lecturers.

He suspectsthathis freedom. turningit into a memorable emblematic fiction-Manzano.83. Besides dispensing literaryadvice and editing Manzano's poems.1977]. his patron.Manzano places not only his poems but his libertyin the hands of his "inremindinghim of "the inclinationto gain comparable protector.by natural principle. who held liberal views on slaverybut was capable. "My Thirty who Years. 10"He realizes thathis poetry.of obfuscated reactions against p.if he is ever to attainit. both as a slave and as a poet.F." (Roberto Friol. during the cruel investigation 11Letter of 11 December 1834.in Cuba and abroad. in one way or another. p." his freedom that.on thepoemsthat to in are currently yourpowerI awaityourorders disposeof them.8 Del Monte assumes the power given him by Manzano. Autobiografia. compositions grantme the titleof 'halfpoet. (Critics Manzano attend his tertulia have isolated one such reading. Autobiografia. and Del Monte to a powerfultree.I wanted sendthem latto you.Suitepara Manzano [La Habana. when he felt threatened. It is clear that for Del Monte. the subjectof his freedom: "Let not Your Grace forgetthat p. 81.398 MOLLOY SYLVIA to himself polishing which Onlythecarewith Your Gracehas devoted will themin thosepartswhereit was necessary. reading his sonnet. Letterof 16 October 1834.fromthose hands. 80. 60) Juan Francisco Manzano may have exaggerated his devotion to Del Monte. 8 ." Autobiografka. once more. in Juan Francisco Manzano.whateveritsvalue. Manzano. lost in the wind. In another letter. Manzano informs bringsup. he arranges for their publication.To D. his letterof 11 December 1834 to Del Monte. after quoting from one of his poems where he compares himselfto a leaf. forreasons thatare self-evident. J. EditorialArte y Literatura.butI don'tknowwhatYour Gracewilldecide.dated 25 p. will not be happy if he is not F. This was made evident in his testimony favor of Del Monte followingthe Conspiraci6n de la Escalera in 1843. truth muto dedicated a young to is itbearssomeresemblance thosethings.' I have a fewamatory the if or a amongst them poemI don'tknow didactic descriptive. 9 Letterof 11 December 1834.is in everyslave. and now more than ever.'0 more important in cidentally.for reasons somewhatmore complex.9 He also has and read his poems out loud. improving myverses. 79.) It is quite possible promptly that Manzano played up the dependent nature of his relationship with Del Monte in the hopes of gaining the criticto a cause far Not cointhan the literary qualityof his writing. both men had somethingto gain from each other. Del Monte of his wedding (to a freewoman) and February 1835.""1 In a sense. mustpass throughDel Monte's hands if it is to reach Europe. p. at thepiano. yet his loyaltywas in nonetheless real. willalso come. Autobiografia. to to at woman thepiano." before an audience of compassionate delmontinos starta collectionto buy his freedom.

In the final analysis.for his part.Black Narrative Latin Americanand the Caribbean [Westport. Ironically. to the editorof Le Globe."''3As such.and to the destrucby tion. . Escritos. Ferndndez de Castro. Since Del Monte knew he had a showpiece Black witha good image and intellectualcapacity. while in exile in Paris."Slavery. like the one in Haiti. according to depositions made by the Blacks themselves. he resortsto those same depositions as truthful sources withoutmaking the same allowances. so that Cuba may become "the most brilliant beacon of civilization of the Caucasian race in the Spanish American world. 189-202) At the beginning of this letter.especiallythe English. it was hoped.M L N 399 Blacks. eds.of sugar millsand other countryestates. 1929]."Wisconsin xlviii(1965).in the paragraph quoted above." in Vera Rubin and ArthurTuden. Comparative on in spectives Slavery New World Plantation Societies [New York: New York Academy of Sciences. by knife and poison.why not display him?" (Richard L.S. I.The main thrust of the letteris to defend himself againstthe "calumnies"of those who would implicate him in the 1843 Escalera conspiracy. so as to take pleasure in their daughters and theirwives withimpunity and then establisha Black republic on the island.the thwartedBlack uprisingagainst Spanish authorities. Magazine ofHistory. Manzano became for him. in August 1844.Racism and Autobiographyin Two Early Black Writers:Juan Francisco Manzano and in Martin Moria Delgado" in William Luis ed.. as Richard Jackson puts it. not only win convertsto the criollo's humanitariancause.non-rebellious unlikely defended the to alienate the conservative elementsof the sacarocracythatstaunchly de o el principle of the slave's tyrannization-tiranizar correr riesgo ser tiranizadoand the continuationof the illegal slave trade. Editorial Cultural. he could in12 No textis more eloquent. 13 "The standard imposed by the Del Monte group.A.arguing that the depositions implicating Black conspiratorsunder duress. "The Portraitof the Slave: Ideology and Aestheticsin the PerCuban Antislavery Novel.. which was more reformist in than abolitionist." The way in whichDel Monte describesthe conspirators' plans is revealing: Sufficeit to recall what the plan of the conspiracywas. mightbring pressure to bear on the Spanish crown to enforce the slave treaties. [Havana: Colecci6n de Libros Cubanos. Jose A. somewhatof "a showpiece Black. expression that Manzano an of "victim society. in thisrespect. under England's protectorate. 1977].a reasonable.. in turn. of all white men.. p.who.thatthe ideal of the Del Monte group was the negroracionalor the criada de raz6n (incidentally. Voices fromUnder. called for 'moderationand restraint' the depictionof the black slave. Ivan Schulman observes. fire.ideological straight-jacketing irrationalfear.Del Monte had denied his involvementin the him were extractedfromthe conspiracy. pp. The resultantpatheticbeing would.'2 the patientand submissiveManzano (whose patience and fit submissionmay have been strategical well as temperamental) as his expectations. For otherexamples of the typification slaves forabolitionist purposes. 1984]. see Larry Gara. 196-204. Del Monte firmly and reasserts wishto abolish his slaverybut then extends his wish to include the banishmentof Blacks ("one of the most backward races in the human family")from the island. "The ProfessionalFugitive in the AbolitionistMovement. Schulman."(Domingo Del T. uses to describehis mother).The letter is a remarkable mixture of realisticthinking. CT: Greenwood Press. Jackson. pp. pp." (Ivan A. of 56-57).this plan amounted to the destruction. Ed. Monte. 359).than the open letter Del Monte writes. but also court the mercyand justice of foreignreaders.

both throughphysicalabuse of through the attribution privilege. useful because it would depict the heinous excesses because it would reflect of slavery. Concluding. most importantly.has littleto ground it. Jackson's conjecturingdoes not stop here.in order to please his protector. Jackson speculates on why part two went astray: "[W]e can assume that part 2 could well have been franker than part I.Furthermore. so that whatever writteninjunctions Manwere given by Del Monte. lightened middle class that wished to distinguishitselffrom its more obtuse contemporaries. Perhaps Manzano in part 2 forgotthe original guidelines and expressed some views that. 175. withouttoo much conflict." Cuadernosamericanos.The dossier containing Manzano's autobiographythatDel Monte was to give Madden was destinedto with"the exact stateof opinion on furnishthe English magistrate the slave trade and on the conditionof slaves held by the thinking youthof thiscountry. more importantly.Del Monte's ideal probably seemed the most desirable to Manzano and it may well have coinwithhis self-image. he zano's lettersdo not refer to any instructions mighthave received fromDel Monte.Manzano "had to play down the threateningimage of the rebellious slave while playing up the image of the docile and submissive slave. .that Manzano was in the process of shedding his submissiveimage. La vida literaria Cuba. becomes second nature.400 SYLVIAMOLLOY thatwould be deed be counted upon to produce an autobiography doubly useful."and. obras antiesclavistascubanas. 58). quite often. of oppressive situations." (p.and useful. nor does he provide detailsabout what he He is writing. p. cided. are missing. 56. In and. Jackson's contentionthat. Perhaps Manzano had tired of being circumspect and fartherthan his liberal whitefriendswere prepared to go. '5Jackson. calls his project "the course of mylife"or "the story of mylife." simplybecause he did not have one: the system had perverselybeaten it out of him. were betterleft and wanted to go faster unsaid. from (the the end of part one of the Autobiografia only one thatremains). "Dos 207 (July-August1976).self-censorship the images the systemhad to offer.15Equally plausible (although undoubtedly more bleak) is the conjecture that image of the Manzano did not have to play down the "threatening rebellious slave. Gonzalez del Valle. for all concerned including Manzano.referscautiouslyto his autobiographen 14 Jose Z. the opinion of an enthrough the slave's testimony) (vicariously. Only Manzano's lettersremain of the correspondence between Manzano and Del Monte." while not impossible. if any. p. cited in CUsarLeante."'14 It is unclear (and of course impossibleto evaluate) to what point Manzano deliberately conformed to Del Monte's ideology.

so prepare yourselfto see a weak creain going fromoverseer to overture stumbling the greatestsufferings.M L N 401 he ical venture as "the matter. Consider me a martyr lashings that mutilatedmy stillunformedbody will never make a bad in pruman of your devoted servantwho.even when skippingat timesfour. I was close to givingup. can't but answer that I did not receive notice so far in advance. is a change of attitude. without ever receiving praise and being always the target of I misery.but let Your Grace rememberwhen he reads me that I am a slave and that the slave is a dead being in the eyes of his master.and do not lose sightof what I and you will find that the endless have gained. Marquesa de Prado Ameno. significantly. who has caused me such miseryis stillalive. (Friol. a year before Manzano. Two letters referring specifically to the project allow one to measure that change. 51). The person alluded to at the end of the letter was the pp.on more than to myself the mostinteresting to end soon limiting four occasions. . but havingwritten withoutstopping. effected by the autobiographical experience itself. a picture filledwithso many de protocols calamities seems but a bulky chronicle of lies [un abultado all embusterias]. p. need to resortto a risky thus obligingor pushing me into the forceful escape to save my miserable body from the continuous mortifications that I could no longer endure. showinghow writing What Manzano's letters do reveal. 83-84. uses the same euphemism to refer to the plans for his manumission."el asunto. the more so since froma veryyoung age cruel lashings made me aware of myhumble condition.'6 The awkward syntax of this letter. however. for the very to day thatI received your letterof the 22 I set myself lookingover the space occupied by the course of my life.and I don't know how to demonstratethe factsif I leave the worstpart out. seer. and freedomwere closelyallied in his mind. but I hope events. Manzano describes the actual beginning of his writing.and when I was able to I set myself to writing believing that a real's worth of paper would be on enough. now dares breathea word on thismatter.I am ashamed to tellthis. trusting your characteristic and thiswhen the one dence. In the first. who died in 1853.and even fiveyears. dated 25 June 1835. and I wish I had other factsto fillup the storyof my life withoutrecalling the excessive rigor withwhich my formermistresstreated me. which I have attempted to 16 Autobiografia. fearlosingyouresteema hundred percent. I quote it in its near entirety for it is of consequence: My dear Sir Don Domingo: I received Your Grace's esteemed letterof of the fifteenth this month and I was surprised that in it Your Grace I tellsme thatthreeor fourmonthsago he asked me forthe story.I have stillnot reached 1820.

syntaxless choppy. why should he be ashamed and whywould it not his oppressors? If it is the tellingof thatmisery. Again Manzano bringsup the asunto. I wish I had other things to tell besides it.How to tell it. clares that he is limiting factsthan those he is on the other.as the "bulkychronicleof lies" is out in the open beforehim. I disagree withhis choice and shall elaborate later on mydisagreement.come the fears: I am ashamed of it.he wishes thattherewere other tellingto fillup the storyof his life. What shall I choose to tell?When shall I stop? Will theythinkI'm lying?And then. It lends a to contributing effectively itscomsense of urgencyto his writing. Much like Madden. of at seatedin somecorner mycountry. disappoint Del Monte when he had requested the piece? These ambiguitiesare not resolved but enhanced by the contradictory nature of some of Manzano's queries. what is the nature of the it that disturbshim to the point of shame? If it is the miseryand torture to which he has been subjected. I a peace. access to a new scene of For Manzano. CT: Archon Book. the English translation thissame letterin Juan Francisco of Manzano. Again. the editor chooses to render in Manzano's letters "correct"English. 1981) pp.A second letterto Del Monte. assuredof myfateand of mylivelihood.For themoment is bestnotto givethis matter specoccurrences scenesbeand tacular development required different by 17 See. Mullen. 14-15. On the one hand. TheLifeand Poens ofa CubanSlave. Manzano needed littleencouragement to tell his was another matter.but gone are the reactionto his mentor's anxietyand disarraythatmarked his first the request. ed. is remarkably different. The quesintions he asks himselfin this letter. the misgivings experiences are all part of the autobiohe grapher'squandary.'7 is typicalof Manzano's prose. forpurposes of comparison. he dehimselfto the "most interesting" events. for example. verydifferent writing fraught scene to which he was accustomed as a derivativepoet. maywrite truly it the Cubannovel. it will disappoint my reader (Del Monte) who will no longer like me. story. Edward J. (Hamden. [demiella]forsomedaywhen. Even the manner of the letteris different. the autobiographysignifies safe fromthe relatively withanxiety. .the tone more poised.402 SYLVIAMOLLOY reproduce in English. What is Manzano ashamed of. writtenthree monthslater on 29 September 1835. I quote extensively: to downforYour Gracea partof the [I] have preparedmyself write of its interesting events itmine of history reserving most [istoria] mylife.the reflectionsself-writing spires. pelling quality. as this letterillustrates.

in control of his writing. has Manzano keep the text for himself. The previous letter. of course. that Manevents rezano. Dissatisfiedwithhis masters. 86). 85) and Dionisio Mantilla. a poet whose verses he recited by by heart and some doubted that theywere written one withouteducation. the second establishes a line between what has been promised to the critic ("you will not lack your material") and what Manzano keeps for himself. marked instead by resistence. he was active in collectingmoney to buy Manzano's freedom (see letterof 16 October 1835.I spoke to him thathe would not forget about thismatterand he told me not to worry.and thathe would writeto Your Grace as soon as he could.but in spite of thatYour Grace will not lack material. events" for Del Manzano was writingdown "the most interesting events" Monte. and this I find of capital imporinteresting that in these three monthsof writinghimselfdown. Or rather. p.Manzano was trying change houses ("the freedom I had been promised in this house seems to have dissipatedin the wind togetherwiththe word".M L N 403 cause one would need a whole volume.less corded in June from his text and replacing ones. the second letter.whose Manzano had served. the second letterreversesthe notion of interest justifies the choice of material for the autobiography. AlthoughDionisio Mantilla family was unable to do so. It does mean. Mantance. I saw Doctor Don Dionisio by chance on the street. Manzano speaks as the author of his text. of his fame as a poet: white men know his texts by heart. in an oblique way.had promisedto help him. now there are decisions. tunes.well aware of the fictional potential of his material. marked by subservience. . has changed. (He even reminds the recipient of his letter. that In addition. to pp. has him keep part of the text. Now thisdoes not mean. in Septemberhe is reserving"the most interesting for forhimself. in September. that he is zano's concept of "the most interesting" else valuing something in himselfbesides the storyof his misforelse something is not forgiving.is removingthose most interesting them withother. waived Manzano's rights to the text by "giving" it to Del Monte. an eventual book he willwritewhen he is freeand feels fullyat home.) While the first letter gave full power to Del Monte over Manzano's story.'8 Manzano's attitude in this letter could not differ more from that of the previous one.p. me because he wanted Europeans to see thathe was rightto speak of a slave who had served in his house.tomorrowI shall begin to steal hours frommy sleep for thatpurpose. In June. Instead of queries and doubts. 84-85.and thatthatmostinteresting 18 Autobiografia.

in 13). .. by workingfrom Madden's text back to Manzano's. A look at Richard Madden's translation Manzano's text. of an originally debatable. assessing the changes made by Madden and.Mullen's criticalassessmentseemed to point in the opposite way: "Another plausible explanation [for the difference between Madden's text and Manzano's] would be that Madden's translationis in realitya reconstruction the Spanish originaldesigned to reflectabolitionist of views.markingthe entire autobiography. 22. .and. precisely.My contention is thatthatsomethingelse is nonethelessthere.404 SYLVIAMOLLOY Since Manzano never wrote his "Cuban novel" (indeed he did not writemuch afterthe Autobiografia. he surprisingly concludes that "Madden's translation is-with the exceptions noted-strictly that. Several pages earlier. My emphasis.Sudrez y Romero speciouslyargues that"itwas as a slave that he learned to read and write. of more precisely.. a rendition into English of the authored text".20 statement highly The is original.one can begin to identify nodules of rethe sistance in Manzano's story.is useful at this point.Parnasocubano." (Quoted in Antonio L6pez Prieto. .It to 19Much has been made of thispurported "silence" of Manzano whichhas often been attributed mythical overtones. a comparison of that English version with the Spanish original. 215-6) 20 Mullen in Juan Francisco Manzano.Roberto Friol successfully challenges thismythand restoresManzano's "silence" to its true proportions. "unauthorize"the textby makingit anonymous.(Friol. Mullen pays scant attentionto the differencesbetween the two texts. [H]owever.which would explain whythe texthighlights particularthe degradationsof slavery"(p. I would argue that. 1881].After undertakingpreciselysuch a Edward comparison in his 1981 edition of Madden's translation. Indeed.as a slave that he struckup friendshipswith the intellectuals who redeemed him. from the moment Manzano announces that there is a part of himselfhe will not cede-a part thatis ungiving -that part informs.as a slave that he composed his first poems. throughitsverydefiantsilence. Juan Francisco Manzano became silentwhen the nightof serfdomgave way to the dawn of freedom.While notingthatthereare suppressionsand a fewchanges. p. pp. 253) By carefullytrackingdown poems by Manzano that were published in periodicals afterhis manumission. TheLifeand Poemsofa Cuban Slave. evaluating what Madden suppressed from the original because it in some way frustrated readers' expectations...Colecci6n poesiasselectas autores de de I cubanos. as if pain were his only inspiration. [Havana: Editorial Miguel de Villa. as a slave that he sketchedthe disturbing account of his troubled life. some poems'9) he did save not endow thatsomethingelse witha visibleform. given the factthatone of the first thingsMadden does is. p.the restof the writing. fromthe momentresistance the other (or differto entiationfromthe other) replaces capitulationbefore the other. more importantly.

thisburden of representativeness 21 "He was about thirty-eight The price yearsof age when he obtained his liberty. producingcurious hybridbiographicalsketchesof (Mullen. de published to consid(an echo.whichduplicates the deficiencies thatmake and syntactic withall the orthographic originalmanuscript it so hard to read. the cuts thatwould follow)tellsus as much about Madden and his practiceof reading as it does about the generic Cuban slave. Madden needed to make the textanonymousin order to heighten was Thus his translation whathe considered itsrepresentativeness. of a house-painter.confused Manzano withthe better-known la Concepti6n Valdes. 10) . "the most perfectpictureof Cuban slaveryever given to the world. went out to service-then tried the business and was not successful-was advised to set up as a confectioner.among them Amelia E. his initialsappear in a quotation from Del Monte conMadden furnishesdetained in Madden's preface. in Manzano. in occasional service.a number of American writers. even more ambitiously."22It is highlylikely. may be de Autobiograffa un esclavo of seen in Schulman's retitling Manzano's autobiography. TheLifeand Poemsofa Cuban Slave.and eventually. perhaps. presentednot as the life storyof one individualbut as the generic as account of "the Cuban slave" and.are not completelyconvincing. 24 A similarmanipulationof the text. Pldcido (Gabriel de Brown. dependency. TheLifeand Poemsofa Cuban Slave." 23 Madden. p.For. At thattime. Autobiografia un esclavo. (Juan Francisco Mande p.the non erable acclaim a fewyearsearlier). as paid forit was 800 dollars. zano. 1809-44). as has been disappeared from the argued.fromthe individualto the general.24 In a more general cast upon certaintexts manner. if Manzano's name has effectively titlepage. Schulman's preliminary confirmthis shifttowards the sequitur of the second sentence notwithstanding. 39.that once been a slave was Manzano."(Madden. 34.subsequently. words. in interested mattersof Black literature. more than ever underdevelopmentand cultural slavery. requires a text both reliable and modern. to quote the title. For non-Cuban readers. identification easy: "Since Madden did not publish Manzano's full name in his translation. Madden's claimsthatthiswas done to protectManzano. in Manzano. 12) the writers. whilemost probablysincere. We believe that the contemporaryreader.M L N 405 becomes. TheLifeand Poemsofa Cuban Slave."23 that led Madden to the excision The claim for representativeness of the particular(the amputationof the name. Barr and William Wells mulattopoet.the only poet on the island thathad instead. settleddown as a 'chefde cuisine' and lost all his moneyin thatline. general: [W]e decided not to reproduce the textof Franco's edition. p. tails from Manzano's life (how much it cost to liberate him. 39) seems to have been less 22 Friol. what trades he plied as a free man2l) thatmake him easily identifiable: him simplybecause they did not identify "The Spanish authorities did not wish to. p. of Miguel Barnet'sBiografta un cimarr6n. Indeed. Furthermore.The Life and Poemsof a Cuban Slave. He obtained employment a tailorforsome timeafter he he got his freedom. in Manzano. p.

27 presentManzano's suffering a continuumof growing intensity and not.This imperativeexerted on some autobiographicaltexts-a wayof puttingitsauthor in his or her place-may be also observed in the way women's autobiographiesare veryoftenread.embarked on a fruitless Spanish "originals"of these two poems. draftthatwas shorter froma first p. are oftenread.1962].. ." adapted into English by Madden. as does the textin Spanish.are all atypicalof a "traditional" Madden would have suppressed them.as are place names and dates. again writtenby Madden. Despite the of to callingattention the slave.but Manzano who added-is not veryconvincing. ."25then the "Life of the Negro Poet Written Himself" in a much abridged form.406 SYLVIA MOLLOY by is indicativeof the way in whichthose texts. (Friol. "The Slave-Trade Merchant.are easilyaccepted as individualsby a reading communitywho much prefersto perceive differenceen bloc.onlyabout a fourth the book's title.The excised sections. prefatory somewhatstifling." (Domingo Del Monte) and sundrypieces against the slave trade. Madden not only made the textanonymous. (A History Cuba andIts attribute I Publishers. neitherthe autobiographers. forthcoming . 13) thatMadden mighthave been translating than Manzano's finalversion-so thatit would not have been he who cut. 192). As I mentioned. possiblyled Philip Foner (afterwhat musthave been a veryhastyreading) to of these twoopening poems by Madden to Manzano. nor the personas theycreate. p.written individuals from groups judged weaker or insignificantby the group in power. States. then a few "Poems. finally. The order of some incidents is altered. 33) 26 The suggestionmade by Mullen (Manzano.for one reason or piece and it is easy to see why abolitionist another. there are other cuts in Madden's translation besides the supression of Manzano's name. dwarfedby Madden's doubtlessly theyare and concludingmaterial." and "The by Sugar Estate. [New York: International with United the Relations When Foner's book was translated into Spanish. by pages of the although well-meaning. quite lengthy appendix containing a conversation between Madden and "Sefor . . . In such cases. perhaps. 27 WilliamLuis. as an accumulation of brutal incidents interspersed with unexpected moments of 25 The factthatthe titlepage of the book announced the slave's poems in the first place. Literary of (Austin: University in Bondage:Slavery CubanNarrative publication) Texas Press.he incorporatedit into a book most of whose sections he had writtenhimself.26 Family names are often omitted.The order of Madden's book is as follows:two long poems by Madden denouncing slavery. and total texthave been written the slave himself. TheLifeand Poemsofa CubanSlave. as William Luis persuasively sugas to gests. the Cuban translators(after a search forthe reading thatmust have been equally hasty). Writtenin a Slaveryby Juan.

his appetites-eliminated for reasons one can only guess. enthusiastic (and not verysympathetic) long period in whichthe capricious Marevokingan exceptionally quesa de Prado Ameno did not make him the victimof her ire.whileeffectively preached. Probably judged insignificant.displaced or even suppressed in the English version.I did not like to hear the other servantscalling her names and I would have accused many of them to her had I not known thatshe got angryat those who carried tales. less fearful-its arbitrariness. 68). relief. To have leftthese momentsin place. the most interesting. sugwere mitigatedby momentsof gestingthatthe slave's misfortunes happiness or. Finally. argues Luis.sparkingtheirenvy(p.Manzano's original highlights perfectionthe utterhelplessnessof the slave. otherpassages suppressed by Madden. however. with some smugness.Madden omitsthe passage in whichManzano. sin [mela dio un moreno querer]. it ultimately of linear presentation events. Madden edits out Manzano's self-presentation as "a mulatto amongstblacks" (p. his confused sense of alleFor example. passages illustrating stance with respect to other Blacks. Other suppressions affectpassages that image victim" musthave been perceivedas harmfulto the "worthy Manzano's ambiguous desired for Manzano. the past and I loved her speaks of her fondly:"[I] had forgotten like a mother. are not. of giance." (p. the dubious manifestations his twoness. would have lessened the effect Madden strived for. 52). thosedealing more directly withManzano's person-his urges. 68). These editorial deletions. he does away with the passage where Manzano speaks. His more in nature of suffering the slave's life. 59-60). a pawn in the hands of his master. By alternatingrandom momentsof crueltywith no less erto ratic momentsof kindness.Whateverthe reasons for this reordoes a disserviceto the very cause Madden dering. Positivemomentsare downplayed. He deletes a passing comparisonof Manzano to Christ(replacingit withthe phrase "like a criminal")in the descriptionof one of his punishments(p. 42). followinga definiteideological patMore revealing are tern. at least.as having no direct bearing on the exemplary storyof the "Cuban slave." perhaps even considered frivolousby the somewhat staid .sacthe stressing progressive no rificesanother of its characteristics.of his status as head servantand of the way in which he was set as an example beforethe otherslaves. He even eliminates an episode in which Manzano is "dangerously by wounded" in the head by a stone "thrownaccidentally a black" (p.M L N 407 peace and happiness.

the perfidious Marquesa de Prado Ameno.."took me and theysay I was more in her arms than in fora sortof plaything.. he is onlyoverworkedwhen. Manzano writes. a my mother'swho . . the unerasable reminder of past affronts:"These scars are perin four years that have petual [estanperpetual spite of the twenty passed over them.conferring a 28 "Clothing is that through which the human body becomes significant and thereforea carrier of signs. Manzano's autobiographyabounds in referencesto the body. child christenedin her own daughter'schristening robes. giventhe amount of physicalabuse his text describes. even of its own signs. was an obor ject known as the chinito littlemulattoof the Marquesa. "Encore le corps. For Manzano." Critique. . and it is also the master'sto manipulate. Madden's translationreduces to three lines the following detailed descriptionof Manzano's first livery: undergar[T]heymade me manystriped shortsuitsand somewhite for for ments [alguna ropita blanca] whenI woremypage'slivery. whichis not surprising. on the contrary. had given her mistress littleCreole whom more comshe called the child of her old age. the body is a formof memory."(p. myemphasis). crucialto the understanding Manzano the man and Manzano the autobiographerin his complex relationto writing and books. is misHis first sent to the sugar mill) as it is used by his mistresses." (p. 423-424 [1982]. the slave. who has the tress. clothing provides a new identitywhile effacing the old. holin of trimmed idaysI was dressedin widescarlet trousers finecloth.a short jacket without collartrimmed blackvelvet also trimmed redfeathers on thetiptwolittle with and cap in and a diamondpin and with thisand the all rings the Frenchstyle the restI soon forgot secluded I hadledin the life past.a a gold braid..in punishment. p.the kind and grandmotherly Marquesa de Justiz. withthe same.408 SYLVIAMOLLOY of Madden. For Manzano. theyare. As his mistress's page. 61) Emblematic of her power over his body is an intricateritual of dress. Manzano's body is not so much exploited through hard work (a he cityhouse slave. 647) . She dressedme I the combedme and tookcare that not with other Blacks 37. 34) Infinitely of plex but equally depersonalizingis the involvement his second mistress. through hard labor. with Man"I zano's body. it is his master's to exploit. mix little (p." (Roland Barthes." (p. 54) Yet thatbody does not belong to him.for his pleasure.28It makes and unmakes the man at random. From earlychildhood on.

Manzano's body is. Essays on "Cultural Contributionsand Deculturation.Leonor Blum ed. quite literally." (p.If Manzano's years in the Marquesa de Prado Ameno's service are presented as an oscillation between good and evil depending on the mistress's whims. 55). displaced.trans.no less important the alternation is betweenthe two forms of dress that the text so painstakingly details.."Moreno Fraginals. Once I finishedmy duties. I would sit outside my lady's door so that.."in Africain Latin America: History.NewlyarrivedAfricanswere rouof tinely mixed up ethnically thatno slave group consistedof Africansof one ethnic so origin. Manzano cleverlyenin hances thishumiliation recordingthe horrorand disbeliefin his by littlebrother'seyes when watchingthe scene for the firsttime (p. the locus of his exploitation. she would find me immediately.to him and to others. The threshold-by definitiona non-place. a well-known means of ensuringthe good functioning the slave system.Communicationwas much impeded if not rendered impossible:"Plantation for owners. permanentlydisoriented by the frequent change in costume. 30 "Boys and girlswore a one-piece shirt withone lateralseam."the change of clothes and of fortunewere one.on awakening. following her like a lap dog.M L N 409 tenuous sense of selfhood (a sense that is reinforcedby isolation fromhis peers29)thatis all too easilydestroyed. the shorn hair. 7.I went wherevershe went.the body is no longer a body but a tool and a buffer:"[I] stayed 29 On a much larger scale. p." 16. [New York: Holmes and Meier.but never out of her sightor her control: "[M]y task was to get up at dawn before the othersawoke and sweep and clean all I could.30 This change of dress was public. On the one hand.had a vested interest not permitting in slaves to interactfreely. isolation was. of course. 39-40).and one was stripped of one's identity the presence of others. 46). As Manzano writeseloquently. Manuel Moreno Fraginals. a divisoryline-is the space assigned to Manzano's body. On the other. withmylittlearms folded. 1984). the finerythat clothes his body inside the house and signals." (Manuel Moreno Fraginals. withsocial cohesion mightcome a sense of solidarity.the bare feetand the esquifacionor fieldlaborer'shemp gown Manzano is forcedinto beforebeing tied up and carriedoffto the sugar mill. If one looks for the space allotted that body in the mistress'house. Isolated from the bodies of other Blacks.In it.thathe is in his mistress's good graces." (pp. one will see it has none.there is the fall fromgrace.. Footwear was never handed out. Its place is always at the mistress'sside or at her feet."Cultural Contributions. there is the ropafina. Culture and Socialization. p. .in fact. There was even an eighteenth century Frenchdecree forbidding givingshoes to Blacks because 'shoes torturedtheirfeet'.

Manzano stresses his hunger. "I was veryfearfuland I liked to eat. one that slowlybut surely. this voraciousness is also a powerful means of rebellingagainst limits: that I hungry." (p. interceptingundesirable contact." (p. as soon as she sat down. more specifically. the only place where his body escapes the controlof his mistressis the common lavatory: "Regularly the common room was my place for meditation. (p. in the lavatory. space for himself make leftovershis nourishment: "When they no less furtively. stopping whom she called for.to be that thresholdwherevershe goes." ever-hungry describeshimselfas a child." (Manzano.or being silentif she slept. It is notsurprising and a glutton. in his text. A way (p. neglected by Manzano's translators 31 A statementMadden incrediblymistranslates "[M]y only comfortat that as momentwas the solitude of my room. there is no specifictime carves a forhis eating. 68). I notion of the residual.his givingit an importancethat surpasses the cliche of the gluttony. I was quick to pick up everything they leftundined or supped about it forwhen theygot up to leave eaten and I had to be crafty the table I had to go withthem. ate everthing came my always that.allows me to explore anotheraspect of Manzano's one that Madden deletes completely. 40) It is by building on this and. growingboy.p.or fetching outside her door.he will.410 SYLVIAMOLLOY -anyonewho tried to enter. 39) As there is no place for Manzano's body. TheLifeand Poems.While I was there I could thinkof thingsin peace" (p. However." (p.. To be on his mistress'sthreshold. 38) is the way he succinctly of repossessing his body. in the same way thathe furtively whichis a place of waste. which and my myself swallowed food have a fixedtimeforeatingI stuffed that in indigestions and chewing thatresulted frequent without nearly needsand that mepunished got to attending certain had me frequently . I had to stand behind her chair with my elbows spread out. while clearlynot an originalconcept. 51). will bring me closer to ManSeveral times zano's problematicrelationwithbooks and writing.31 The lavatoryas a refuge and a place to be. 105) .I hope. 65) Indeed. is the function of Manzano's was body: "In the eveningsmonte played in the home of the Gomes ladies and..and bodily manifestations. as I did not for reasonI wasconsidered great way. preventingthose who were standing from pushing her or grazing her ears with their arms.

of a book.)The indeed the verynotion notion of an archive. the child is a collector of texts. his giftis exhibited before company. for he only has access to fragments. Princeton1987. and.reescrituras: narrativade Miguel Barnet. 33 Friol. valued snippets from an assortmentof texts he comes across by fromhis masters'culturaltable: chance." are totally deular scene of reading. veryearlyon. Manzano's yet for gluttony food is only matchedby his voracity the letter.the Marquesa de enough." (p. whichinspiredsuch awe in a Sarmiento.32 I wish to approach his relation to books. p. 65-66) Even before knowing how to read. This relation is. as he will later. of course. As soon as the young Manzano uses his prodigious memoryfor himselfhe is regarded withsuspicion: "When I was twelveI had alreadycomposed many stanzas in my head and thatwas the reason my godparentsdid not want me to learn how to writebut I dictatedthem from memoryto a young mulattocalled Serafina. yet unlike Sarmiento. 48. Under the tutelage of his firstmistress." Diss. His is a veryparticbook in his hand. notoriouslyone-sided. shortplays.M L N 411 that may add. He becomes. a memory machine. Manzano is condemned to orality-not in vain is he nicknamed of "Golden Lips".the sermonsof Fray Luis de Granada and bitsof operas he is taken to see. for denied him: books are unavailable.thatgiftis not allowed to followitsnormalcourse. his commentators.of a culturaltotality. . 38). was herselfa poet33-he memJustiz-who.(Even when Manzano pubby heart punished. interestingly orizes eulogies. he 41) is judged too disruptive. is condemned to silence: too the I found that chatted muchand that old servants out Mymistress in thehousegathered aroundme whenI wasin themoodand enjoyed 32 Withthe exception of Antonio Vera Le6n's perceptive mentionof Manzano in la "Testimonios. (pp.the "man witha alien to Manzano. leftovers of was whatever readable SinceI wasa little I had thehabit reading boy I picking in mylanguageand whenI was out on thestreet wasalways it till paperand ifitwasverseI did notrest I learned up bitsof printed byheart.reciting thatletteris constantly forbidden. writing lishes. when his recitation the poems he composes mentallyand keeps in "the notebook of versesof mymemory"(p. As the young Sarmiento a few most efficient years later. he will do so by special permission.

or picks up in the streets).where I half lay on the floor... In the same manner. in the absence of writing.throughwhat I saw and heard as correctedand explained I found myself ready to count myself a regular attendantof the drawing class I forgetwhich one of the children gave me an old brass or copper pen and a pencil stub and I waited till theythrewaway a draftand the next day afterhaving looked around me I sat in a corner my face to the wall and I startedmaking mouths eyes ears eyebrowsteeth . oblique means of leaving a trace on paper must be found. Next day for or no good reason I received a good thrashing and I was made to stand on a stool in the middle of the room. [She] who never lost sightof me even asleep she dreamed of me spied on me one winternighttheyhad made me repeat a storysurrounded by many children and maidservantsand she was hidden in the otheryroom behind some shutters blinds. I quote from an admirable passage describing the drawing lesson given the mistress and her children. with signs hangingon mychestand on myback I cannot rememberwhattheysaid and it was strictly forbiddenfor anyone to engage in conversationwith me and if I even tried to engage one of my elders in conversationhe was to give me a blow. is given new life and value as it is used below-in the corner. the "notebook of [Manzano's] memory" will have to do. or occasionally reads.. From copying drafts.. From all thatmomenton everybodystartedthrowing sortsof draftsto me in my corner. and taking a discarded draftwhich was untorn . Godfria [probably Godfrey]who was the teacher went fromone to another of those who were drawing saying such and such here correctingwith the pencil there and fixingsomethingover there. Manzano will go on to copying script and to writing itself. which Manzano. a big gag in my mouth.412 SYLVIAMOLLOY hearing my poems . happy time in the service of the Marquesa's .. discarded from above. Fished out of a waste basket or thrown to him like a bone. in the serf's place. this used up matter.. (p. 41) Lacking books. I copied it so faithfully when I finishedmymistress that was gazing at me attentively although pretendingnot to see me .. a passive attendant. on the floor. it also stores the poems he continues to compose even if he cannot write them down or say them out loud.. 40) Relying heavily on residue and mimesis. During his short. turns to his profit: chairand thereI [I] too would be presentstandingbehind mymistress's stayedthroughoutthe class as theyall drew and Mr. A repository for his models (the poems he hears. (p. Manzano's drawing lesson reverts the order of the lesson of his masters.

."(Moreno Fraginals. A slave withoutworkwas an elementof dissolutionfor the whole system."is unproductive myself he learns. 57) That thissame masterwas "an and. 36 "When. he recognizes that the furtive takenup "to give of memorization his master'smanual of rhetoric.Manzano claims. 200). does not lack ironybut should not surprise us.. resortingto an equally inventive when he taught of recycling refuse. no differentfrom his mother) "ordered me to leave that pastime." (p. 56) opposes these effortsand (in this respect. A study of time. again by Moreno Fraginals." (p. I suggest the following remarkson perception of time by slaves."Africain Cuba. factorof possible rebellion.and go back to sewing. 48)." p. nating with very precise deictics ("a littlebefore eleven.his master(who sends him back to his sewing.literally "and with this inventionbefore a month was over I was writing lines shaped like my master'sscript." (p.M L N 413 son. they devised unproductivework for the slaves such as themto theirplace of movingobjectsfromone place to anotherand thenreturning a origin." 123-124.withinthe he was not neglecting)considers it a pastime in cannot be passed.it mustbe measured work. rhythm musthave broughtabout a deep-seated dissociationbetweenhuman time between and the time required for production.Buyingpen and veryfinepaper."34 illustrious deed." (p. and Deculturation.the slave-owners had no productive work for the slaves to do. see Ram6n Guirao. would later be presidentof the Education Section of the Sodel de ciedadEcon6mica Amigos Pass. . "Poetas negros y mestizosen la epoca esclavista. flatmaster'scrumpled notes and discarded scraps of writing tracesthem teningthem out under one of his fine sheets. . 43-44."(p. Deciding to "teach myselfsomethingmore useful" (p. 57) His master. and: "I was sent to polish the mahogany so that I would spend my timeweeping or sleeping.inappropriateto my situationin life. 252." etc. and time. L6pez Prieto.). For the way in which Blacks were denied education.35 Whereas Manzano sees writingas useful.Parnaso cubanop. 56). Examples of this inventedwork to avoid emptytime (or pastimes) may be found in whetherit was Manzano: "It was my task every half hour to clean the furniture. Aug.a total lack of synchronization biologicalcapabilitiesand the taskthathad to be performed. dusty or not."who loved me not like a slave but like a son. he rescues his and. since he cannot fullyapply what learning.Chronologyand time notationsare indeed blurry.. Nicolas Cardenas y Manzano. for reasons beyond theircontrol. pp. 26.a task.36 slave system. inon protectorof public instruction thisisland. .in a manner no less striking himselfto draw. he teaches himselfto write. 1934.as a on possible solutionto the controversy Manzano's sense of time: 34 35 The unnatural "Aftersome time this accumulated fatigue became irrteversible. Bohemia."p: 18) "Cultural Contributions . of the different notationsof time in Manzano's Autobiografza would be of definiteinterest.Criticshave pointed to the apparent contradiction between Manzano's exceptional memoryfor literatureand his poor memoryconimprecisionaltercerningfacts."(Moreno Fraginals. than 57).

is its desperatelyconventional.a stylethataffordedhim its comfortpreciselybecause of its readymade formalism.he "began identithe withhis habits.I bethe (verse and rhyme)determining writing lieve.is the story the raphy: one. 56) and. From a modestcotcontinuehis writing somehow run out of the Marquesa's home ("I wrote tage industry many notebooksof stanzas in forcedmeter.was to be expected. the other.as does one critic. chair. and books everymorning.414 SYLVIA MOLLOY Identity and identificationare words that occur nowhere in Manzano's autobiographyexcept here. 1830). Poetasde color.withhis writing. handy cliches. its reassuring meters. Manzano would His master's initial objection notwithstanding. (Zafira and on to moderate renown as a poet and as a playwright 1842). thissuspicion. Del Monte. Manzano himself Spanish poet who transhis model was Arriaza. he explains that "that is why there is a and mine. the contemporary lated Boileau. of thatslave self as reader and writer.if correct style. an ardent Neoclassicist. Manzano's avowed liking for pie forzado."37 or.measured and ultimately which.the prefixed "mold" of the poem itself-confirms. on to Del Monte's patronage. Besides being the style Manzano read. ovis "the cryof thepatiens crous to findin them.it was. the fashion of the day. was verymuch zano edit his poetry. when summarizing learning fying process observed above. a "creative suffering" p. ludioriginality. 1821. course. 66]). as does another. in the course of the writing lesson I have described.It is mediocre Neoclassicismat itsveryworst. willultimately For there are two storiesin Manzano's autobioghis own identity. I suspect. however. declares that one thinksof it. he would go on to publish with special permission(Poesiasliricas. What strikesthe modern reader about Manzano's poetry. withconsiderablesuccess. Manzano. Calcagno." (p. is that Manzano does not identify withhis reading. 37 .which I sold" [p. complying if just as important not more so. Manzano tells how.and Neoclacissicism. Florespasageras [sic]. It is pointlessto search these poems forpoetic personal confessions or reflectionson slavery." (p. 50. heard and memorized. its lofty abstraction. the masterhimself:he identifies achieve withthe meansthroughwhichhe. 57) What between his handwriting certainidentity with of is noteworthy.helped Manafterall. in preparing his master'stable. reflecting injuriae. is the story selfas slave. of withDel Monte's request.

p. de la serenisimaInfantadofia Maria Isabel 42 "Poesia (En el felizalumbramiento Luisa de Borb6n)."writesCalcagno."to give but one example. 1977).his exalted of we sentimentalism. 99. 69. p. HispanicLiterature.N. In his poetry. "natural"poet."38Yet it is equally short(A sighted to dismiss them because they are imitations.M L N 415 "the blues or spiritualatmosphere [sic]. 82. giftso excessive it contained in by itself own undoing. in 39 MyriamDeCosta." in Africa America. (A from head to toe"40becomes a conventionally previous muse. For a somewhatmore balancedjudgment on the phenomenon of imitation.describes the latter as a "robust Ethiopian"-an ordinary.so are resounding.winds are zephyrs. Manzano's poetry.Y. 115-6.Hyperbatonand prosopopeia abound.-London: KennikatPress. ed.I argue.p. Autobiograffa. 66]). Manzano.the nineteenas year-oldfree mulattoMaria del Rosario. sung in the 1821 poems. 41 L6pez Prieto. p.42"His ear taughthim the cadence of verse. 148.meaningless fillers-"en divinal trasunto. perhaps his firstwife Marcelina Campos. in Oral and WrittenLanguage.43But those of conventions marks of "good taste" (another name for the literary of the day) were less attributable "genius" than to Manzano's to a extraordinary giftof mimicry." cited in Friol.heaven is the empyrean." Blacksin pp. that erate and totalact of appropriationof the reading and writing had been denied him. 43 Poetasde color.pretentious euphemism for Blacks which would be used on Manzano himself("a poet of the Ethiopian race"41). his genius dictatedto him the marksof good taste.Manzano's poems relish artificiality: streamsbecome lymphs. 251. "pretty a gold nugget abstractDelia.44Manzano's poetryis so overdetermined its 38 Antonio Olliz Boyd. "A Dream. receivesthe Catullianname of Lesbia."in Blacksin HispanicLiterature. mannerisms and classicalreferencesare frequent. "The Concept of Black Awareness as a Thematic ApMiriam Deproach in Latin American Literature. p. his excessivedecorum. 40 Letterof 11 December 1834 to Domingo Del Monte. is it because it is such a deliboriginalpreciselybecause is so imitative. withhis exaggerated rhetoric. Costa. 44 "In Manzano. "AfricanInfluence in Latin America: p. 51. (Port Washington. intenton forcingManzano into the stereotype the uneducated.Manzano models his self and his "I" on the voice and the conventionsof his masters.see Samuel Feij6o.39 fact of called them"cold imitawhichManzano was well aware: he himself tions" in his autobiography[p." addressed to Manzano's brotherFlorencio.His second wife. see how the impossibility breaking out of a literarycode .)Another poem. "Social Lyricism and the Caribbean Poet/Rebel.

no founding fiction-no master texts.416 SYLVIAMOLLOY such a comprehensivereservoirof cliches. stored eitherin his memoryor in his straybitsof print.a play in verse.It is a "Moorish" romance in the spiritof the period. 245). rhecomfortable The lyric"I" of Manzano's poetryis a relatively one into which Manzano seems to fitwithouteftoricalconstruct. as closelydependent on conspeaking. "Nota critica sobre Pedro Barreda. afterall.are easy to call up and reassuringin their authority:they are. p."in Isla a su vuelofugitiva 45 See the Sudrez y Romero letterdescribinghis editingtask in Friol. The Black Protagonist the [Madrid: Porrua Turanzas." (Roberto Gonin zailez Echevarria. cannot but disconcertthe reader.45yet that corrected version. fort. constitutes to turnsinto parody. was not the one that was finallypublished.to be rescued from him. .) showsis an What a comparisonof both. theydo not lend themselveseasily to the forcesthe black writerto masterit throughexhaustionand excess.Zafira. In order to validate his autobiographicalgesture and thus authorize himself. apparentlydid not benefitfromeditorialhelp. Manzano's production as much as unquestionable split. fared no better. a look at the Autobiografza. an absence.However. scraps may be used forpoetic with his master'svoice. and more specifically his autobiographyas a black man and a slave.poetryand autobiography. Cuban Novel. Manzano cannot pick and choose from his scraps because those scraps do not contain the makings of his as image.thematically of form. 1983]. storyof Manzano's as lifeand of his self-discovery a poet produces quite the opposite exists that Manzano was helped more with effect. as were the poems in theirchoice vention. p. If those allowingManzano to speak mimicry.unwritten. 231. least the one thatwas published in 1937. the gave the impressionof being overwritten. when Manzano down in when he writeshimself writesprose. If the poetry ever perfunctory. howAfterthe poems and the play. His only contribution the that it unwittingly theatre. the models of the master.affecting his self-imageas a writer.His models.thereis no model for image.The possibility than withthe second: his poems were reviewedand edited the first by del Monte before publication whereas the manuscriptof the at autobiography. the whereaboutsof which are unclear. it imitation. or rathercontain them. (Del Monte had charged Suarez y Romero with editing Manzano's text and Suarez apparentlycomplied.

M L N 417 expression of an autobiographical persona they in no way prefigure. the clear and touchingmanner in in to whichManzano relateshis misfortunes reveal itself all itssimplicity."It would suffice clean up this editorsand critics for text. 184. model.vividlyportraysthat quandary-an anxietyof origins.Panoramahist6rico la literatura de cubana (Puerto Rico: Ediciones Mirador.uncontrolledenergythatis possiblyits major achievement. Yale University 46 Max Henriquez Urefia.freeingit of impurities. dislocated syntax and idiosyncraticmisspellings. however.at the same time. the best self-portrait have of Manzano.The writing. . as it were.Of all the "perpetual scars" thatmark in Manzano's body. readability its own terms.46This notion (shared by many) that there is a clear narrative imprisoned. in waitingfor the hand of the cultivatededManzano's Autobiografia. ever renewed. to cannot tolerate. we in itself.it is what translators. thiscould well be the cruellest.withits run-insentences." writes Max Henriquez Urefia.trace a self forwhichthereis no written as The Autobiografia Manzano wroteit. that provides the text with the stubborn. itorto freeit fromthe slag-this notionthatthe impure textmust be replaced by a clean (white?) version for it to be readable thatof denyingthe text amounts to another.aggressivemutilation. 1963). one cannot.One can trace lettersfromthe master'srefuse. p. breathless paragraphs. his greatest is to contribution literature.