In 1943, Cuban writer Lydia Cabrera published a Spanish translation of Aimé Césaire's poem Notebook of a Return to the Native Land with illustrations by Cuban artist Wifredo Lam. The translation introduced the concept of Négritude to a Cuban and Spanish-language readership. It was also the first and only collaboration between Césaire, Cabrera, and Lam, and its publication reflects a Pan-Caribbean avant-garde spirit that these individuals articulated to varying degrees. By translating Césaire's experience of postcolonial uprootedness and homecoming for a Spanish-speaking readership, Cabrera intimates a connection between the postcolonial context of Martinique and Republican Cuba, and between Négritude and cubanía (Cubanness). Yet, just as Cabrera's translation of Notebook is a symbolic moment in the shaping of black internationalism in the Caribbean, it can equally be viewed as a failed opportunity for creating further dialogue, both within Cuban racial discourse and within a transnational Caribbean context. This essay argues for viewing Cabrera's translation of Césaire's text as a disarticulation: a hopeful gesture of connection and understanding that is ultimately an expression of nonequivalency and fundamental difference.
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Emily A. Maguire; Two Returns to the Native Land: Lydia Cabrera Translates Aimé Césaire. Small Axe 1 November 2013; 17 (3 (42)): 125–137. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-2379045
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