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This article is taken from PN Review 143, Volume 28 Number 3, January - February 2002.

Absolute Solitude: the prose poetry of Dulce María Loynaz James O'Connor

The world gave me many things, but the only thing I ever kept was absolute solitude.
Dulce María Loynaz, 1953

Dulce María Loynaz was born in 1902, the same year Cuba became an independent republic, and died in 1997, living through two revolutions and several attempted coups. By the time the King of Spain awarded her the 1992 Cervantes Prize a month before her ninetieth birthday, she was already a living legend as famous for her solitary life as for her poetry. And yet, despite winning the highest literary distinction in the Spanish language, an award shared by such writers as Jorge Guillén, Rafael Alberti, Jorge Luis Borges and Octavio Paz, she is largely unknown outside of Cuba. Her work is virtually unpublished in Latin America's publishing capitals of Buenos Aires and Mexico City, and except for a 1955 Italian version of her book Poemas sin nombre, her work has never been published in translation. Even in Cuba her Complete Poems did not appear until 1993.

Loynaz was born into a nineteenth century aristocratic family whose ancestors include some of Cuba's most famous war heroes. The earliest was Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, Cuba's first revolutionary hero, a landowner who freed the slaves on his plantation with his famous 1868 'Grito de Yara' and thus began Cuba's First War of Independence with Spain. Loynaz's own father, Enrique Castillo de Loynaz, was a legendary general who fought alongside José Martí in Cuba's Second War ...

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