Introduction to José Martí
Por: Dr. Rodolfo Sarracino

Rodolfo_SaccracinoGood afternoon, dear colleagues. It is truly a pleasure and an honor to welcome you to the Center for the Study on Jose Marti.

You are now in an institution devoted to the study of the life and works of a man who is considered Cuba´s National Hero. He was born in Havana on January 28, 1853 in a modest Spanish family. It has always been a mystery to many of us how quickly his ideas can enter the minds and souls of people, even before they are able to grasp the magnitude of his creative powers, whether literary or political, his ethical principles, his boundless capacity for political analysis and strategic genius, and his sense of social justice. He was a true man, endowed with qualities we would like all men and women, and indeed our sons and daughters to have.

And that is why we are here, in the home of his son, doing our best to preserve for future generations the enormous wealth of knowledge, the treasure of documents that he bequeathed us: his overwhelming literary achievements, his twenty-eight volumes of essays, articles, poetry, drama, letters and novels, forerunners of modernism, considered by the greatest writers and critics of his time and ours among the best created in the Spanish language.

He wrote more than four hundred articles and chronicles in newspapers from Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Mexico City, Caracas, and of course Madrid, New York and Havana, analyzing the social, economic and cultural reality of Latin American countries, Europe and the United States. More than three hundred of them described everything that took place in that country, and delved deep into its causes, not excluding day to day stories of human interest, for instance his well known “North American Scenes”. But there are also many biographical essays and literary portraits of thinkers, important politicians, artists and heroes of the two Americas, Europe and even China far away India and old Viet-Nam.

He wrote stories and commentaries about English writers, such as William Shakespeare, the most quoted of all, Lord Byron, Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Robert Browning, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, William Thackeray, Henry Clinton, Charles Bradlaugh, Charles Wentworth Dilke, John Milton, John Stuart Mills, John Grote, Algernon Charles Swinburne; scientists like Charles Robert Darwin, of whom he wrote extensively; Jacob Hunt, John Wilson Swan; heroes, like Admirals Horatio Nelson, Charles Elphistone Flemming, and Edward Belcher and many other personalities of English history. The fact that Martí was widely read in Mexico, Central and South America made him influential in introducing and disseminating European culture, particularly British, in Hispanic American countries.

Martí´s other works referred to his love for nature, and literary, artistic and scientific themes adroitly linked in one way or the other to his social and political ideas. It was an incredible creative feat for a man who simultaneously organized a revolution in a Spanish colony divided in social classes and races and created a new party meant to help unify the Cuban people and provide the necessary resources for the war including manpower for the Army of Liberation.

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