G. Cabrera Infante, 1929-2005

Context N°17

by Andy Garcia

The death of the Cuban writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante brought great sadness to all of us who cherished not only his extraordinary literary legacy but shared with him his passionate love for our native Cuba and its culture, to which he dedicated his entire life.

My collaboration with him on the film The Lost City, an original story he wrote for me and that we have been dreaming of for the past 15 years, has been one of the highlights of my life. Finally after so many years of struggle the film is nearly finished and almost ready to be viewed by the public. An experience he will never have. I will try and find solace in the feelings of pleasure he expressed to me after viewing the film for the first time just weeks ago.

His passing marks the end of an era—the tragic passing of a generation of leaders and artists, who kept our culture alive in exile and who never gave up on the tireless fight for a free and democratic Cuba.

He was a man of extraordinary intellect and literary genius. But beyond that, the one thing I will always remember is his most-treasured sense of humor and wit. His unique and unequaled wordplay, with its roots in the streets of his beloved Havana, fueled by his uncompromising sense of observation, seducing readers in all corners of the world. A Cuban Groucho mixed with Sophocles, with a dash of the thousands of volumes of books that surrounded him in his home in London. “Have you read them all?” I once asked. “Only once,” he replied dryly. My smile could not have been wider.

“You like jokes don’t you?” I asked. “It’s the laughter, you become addicted to it,” he said with a glint in his eye as he puffed on his ever-present cigar. His devoted and beautiful wife Miriam by his side—“Ay! Guillermo,” she would enjoy him even more than I.

What is one to do now? How does one behave faced with a loss so great? Yes, our lives will go on, but never in the same way, not without “El Maestro,” without our guide who for a time lent us his eyes and used his pen to point us forward. All we can do is honor him for his love of Cuba, its culture, and its language, by carrying his example and sharing his wisdom with future generations. My deepest admiration and condolences to his beautiful family. “Maestro,” I’ll see you at the premier. Your spirit will forever be represented in our film. A love lost, a lost love. The Lost City.

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