Biography and History

Guillermo Cabrera Infante was born on April 22, 1929, in Gibara, Oriente Province, Cuba. His parents, Guillermo Cabrera López and Zoila Infante, founded the Cuban Communist Party and were routinely persecuted and discriminated against for their criticism of Fulgencio Batista. These early political experiences would influence Cabrera Infante's later politics and career. In 1941 the family moved from the coast to the Cuban capital in search of work opportunities.

Cabrera Infante attended the Universidad de la Havana to study medicine, but left shortly thereafter to write. His early literary activities involved editing the journal Bohemia, founding the magazine Nueva generación, and organizing and directing the Cinemateca de Cuba (1951-1956). In 1952 the Batista regime's censors found Cabrera Infante guilty of incorporating English obscenities in a short story that he wrote in Bohemia. As punishment, he was prohibited from publishing in his own name, although he quickly adopted the pseudonym G. Caín, a contraction of his surnames. On August 18, 1953, Cabrera Infante married Marta Calvo. The couple had two daughters, Ana and Carola, but then later divorced in October 1961.

Under the pseudonym G. Caín, Cabrera Infante wrote film reviews for Carteles (1954) and went on to become the magazine's chief editor (1957). He later assumed the directorship of the Instituto del Cine (1959) and edited Lunes de Revolución (1959-1961), the literary supplement of the pro-Fidel Castro newspaper Revolución. At the same time, Cabrera Infante published his first short story collection, Así en la paz como en la guerra (1960); in 1962 it was nominated for the Prix International de Literature (France). Cabrera Infante married his second wife, Miriam Gómez, a former Cuban stage star, on December 9, 1961.

After Lunes de Revolución was officially banned in 1961 as reprisal for editorial protest against government censorship, Cabrera Infante joined the diplomatic service and worked at the Cuban Embassy in Brussels, Belgium, as a cultural attaché (1962-1965). During this time abroad, he composed Un oficio del siglo veinte (1963), a collection of his film reviews written between 1954 and 1960.

The unpublished manuscript of Tres tristes tigres (1967) won the Biblioteca Breve award (Spain) in 1964, and was nominated for the Prix Formentor–International Publishers Prize in 1965. This novel, perhaps Cabrera Infante's best-known work, provides a vision of Havana nightlife before the revolution through the eyes of several friends. Beginning with the title, the text is full of alliteration, puns, and other wordplay, as well as Cuban colloquialisms. Cabrera Infante would continue this style of writing in his later works.

While in Brussels during the early 60s, Cabrera Infante's disenchantment with the Castro government grew, and finally culminated in 1965 when he resigned from the diplomatic corps and subsequently immigrated to England. There he began a new career writing screenplays (1967-1972), a vocation that combined his love of cinema and literature in a new form. From his home in London, Cabrera Infante continued to contribute to major European and American publications, as well as produce new works. He died in London on February 21, 2005.

Source: From the finding aid for C0272

  • Guillermo Cabrera Infante Papers. 1962-1988 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C0272

    Consists of manuscripts and correspondence of the Cuban novelist and storywriter Guillermo Cabrera Infante (1929-2005). These papers contain published work and screenplays from 1964 through 1982, a manuscript of Three Trapped Tigers (1971), the English translation of Tres tristes tigres (1967), and film stills from Wonderwall (1968). Furthermore, the collection contains extensive correspondence between Cabrera Infante and literary agents, publishers, film producers, Latin American writers, and others.