Yvonne Denis

Escritora – Puerto Rico

Fragmento del Prólogo en inglés del libro Capá Prieto… ya traducido…

“PROLOGUE

Capá Prieto written by Yvonne Denis Rosario tells the stories of the men and women on the other side of Puerto Rican history. The text’s title foreshadows part of the central theme: “negritude[1]”. The stories are characterized by the author’s interweaving of fiction and history in a style very particular to the Seventies. In this work the past and the present are intermingled thus holding the reader’s attention through the end. The title of this collection of stories appears to be very well chosen: Capá Prieto (Dark Capá), the Capá is a native tree of the Antilles, whose wood is very useful; it was also the name of the first secret society founded in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico by Ramón Emeterio Betances, in the 19th century. Among the fundamental objectives of this organization were the resistance against the Spanish government, the organization of “El Grito de Lares[2]” and the struggle for independence and its resulting abolition of slavery in Puerto Rico. All of which indicate that the title was not chosen at random.

On the other hand, all the stories are based upon the characterization of significant black and mulatto figures from Puerto Rican society, whose lives are still unknown. These thirteen stories focus on the intra-history of these figures or their daily lives, beyond the historical to their essential humanity. They also demonstrate the authenticity of these men and women, who often rose to go to work in the morning and had nothing to eat. They are the stories of that history that is not written nor carved in stone monuments; thus delving into the humble and dark life of the positive figures of negritude and their contribution to Puerto Rican culture. All stood out in different areas: education, politics, the military, care-giving, history, music, bibliotecology, poetry, the law and others. Most of the stories highlight the lives and struggles of these social actors who to a great extent come from working parents and are black or mulatto.

The stories are set in the historical moment between the 18th century and the 20th century. The places vary from haciendas, plantations, walled cities, small neighborhoods, urban environments and cityscapes. The names of some streets and communities like Barrio Tocones in Loíza[3], Boca de Cangrejos, Piñones, Isla Verde and others, transport us to common ground. In fact, the references to such well known places like La Milla de Oro (the Golden Mile) in Hato Rey or the Tower of the University of Puerto Rico make us feel like we are a part of the plot.

This narration suggests a revision of history from the perspective of eminence and invites us to learn the intra-history of these figures as fundamental pieces to discovering the suppression of many of these real actors from the official history. It is the common people who lead this entwined story: the housewife, the seamstress, the cabinetmaker, the bookbinder, the musician and some middle-class figures such as librarians, lawyers, teachers, investors and historians, whom we will meet in their daily world.

Yvonne Denis Rosario bases her narrations on historical facts, for example: the black uprising of Boca de Cangrejos against the English in 1797, the construction of the Princesa jail in 1837, or the murder of Adolfina Villanueva Osorio on February 6th, 1980. On other occasions, the author uses the technique of “finding” a manuscript, holographic will, photo diary, birth certificate, media documents as a pretext to construct the story. These allow us to perceive the influence of other literary texts such as the Seva story by Luis López Nieves, or the novel the Manuscript of Miramar by Olga Nolla.

Capá Prieto can be read as a single unit or as separate stories. The stories have a common thread that ties them together, a thread that could very well be the subject matter or the actual characters whose stories reappear. At times, the stories could be considered “historical memoirs” given the excellent use of retrospection by the author.

In conclusion, the narrator makes frequent use of contrast to develop her themes. She does so by using a black, mulatto or poor character in disparity against another of the dominant class. In the end we understand that this technique fulfills its primary objective: the celebration and vindication of the black and mulatto characters in positive roles, as seen by their intrahistory.

Yvonne Denis Rosario skillfully handles social criticism and presents existing inequalities and prejudices in our country through the protagonists of these stories. Her stories are permeated by a nostalgic, melancholic and, on some occasion, tragic tone. Capá Prieto has literary merit. The collection sets precedents for the history of Puerto Rican Literature bringing together the lives of these men and women who fought walking by “the other face of history” (González and Quintero Rivera) in a single text. Capá Prieto launches Yvonne Denis Rosario’s career as a narrator, affirming the Puerto Rican negritude.

Dr. Marie Ramos Rosado


[1] Negritude– An aesthetic and ideological concept affirming the independent nature, quality, and validity of Black culture.

[2] El Grito de Lares (The Cry of Lares)—or Lares Uprising —was the first major revolt against Spanish rule and call for independence in Puerto Rico. The short-lived revolt, planned by Ramón Emeterio Betances and Segundo Ruíz Belvis and carried out by various revolutionary cells established in Puerto Rico, occurred on September 23, 1868, and began in the town of Lares, Puerto Rico.

[3] Loíza (loo-EE-zah) is a small town and municipality (municipio) in the northeastern coast of Puerto Rico, north of Canóvanas; east of Carolina; and west of Río Grande. It is part of the San Juan-Caguas-Guaynabo Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Marci Valdivieso

Translator

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Un comentario el “Fragmento del Prólogo en inglés del libro Capá Prieto… ya traducido…

  1. bibiana
    marzo 3, 2012

    DIOS TE BENDIGA, YVONNE.

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Esta entrada fue publicada en septiembre 13, 2010 por .

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