Monday, May 03, 2010

Norberto Fuentes: The Autobiography of Fidel Castro

The Autobiography of Fidel Castro
Terry Eagleton reviews Norberto Fuentes' The Autobiography of Fidel Castro.
Revolutions, as Marx recognised, are inherently theatrical events, both more and less real than everyday life. The Cuban revolution, Castro comments here, was "a miracle of the imagination". In all such mighty upheavals, fact and fiction become hard to tell apart, just as they are in this book. It is part of Fuentes's achievement to make us more conscious of these ironies. Yet there is something disturbing as well as revealing about this blow-by-blow life history. Why invest so much energy in a portrait of your persecutor? How can this avoid paying him homage in the very act of cutting him down to size?

There is something curiously obsessive about Fuentes's fascination with Fidel. Stealing someone else's selfhood is a wickedly effective way of getting even with them; yet wanting to become someone else suggests admiration as much as antagonism. For all his imaginative ventriloquism, it is hard to feel that Fuentes is aware of these ambiguities, let alone that he has resolved them.
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