Viaje A La Habana

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libro Viaje A La Habana

Viaje a la Habana (Madrid: 1844) written by the Countess of Merlin, nee Maria de las Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo, is one of the most seductive texts of Spanish American Romanticism, forerunner of the Caribbean journey to the source, as it narrates the re-encounter with colonial society from which the author had parted soon after adolescence. Focused on colonial Havana, Viaje a la Habana traces the topography of the colonial city, considered the jewel of the overseas Spanish colonies, as the narrator wanders along childhood scenarios remembering relatives and long-lost family members. Merlins African wet nurse, her uncle Montalvo, mulata divas, Creole women, even commercial agents, are evoked with poetic emotion, while the presence of other groups that compose early Cuban nationality can be felt in the background: portraits of the sugar aristocracy are sketched along with poetic renditions of guajiros in the countryside. Part of a longer work dedicated to La Havane, published the same year in Paris, Viaje a la Habana is an editorial enigma as there is no mention of a translator, nor do we know for sure why the Countess chose to cut down the longer French edition. With a foreword and biographical notes by Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda, Viaje a la Habana is the Countess of Merlins most important work, continuing the autobiographical production begun with by Mes douze premieres annees (1831), translated by Agustin de Palma as Mis doce primeros anos (1838). The second memoir, Souvenirs et Memoires, (1836) follows young Mercedes reunited once more with her family in Madrid, her marriage with general Antoine-Christophe Merlin (1771-1839) during the French occupation of Spain, and the couples dramatic escape through the Pyrenees after Bonapartes defeat. During her married life (1812-1839), Mercedes Merlin establishes a highly successful literary salon in Paris, a role that sparks her transformation into a writer. Despite passing the majority of…

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