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Before night falls
Arenas, Reinaldo
Adult Nonfiction PQ7390.A72Z46313 1993

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The novel The Ill-fated Peregrinations of Fray Servando recreates in a poetic style, in which time, space, and character move on multiple planes of fantasy and reality, the life of Fray Servando Teresa de Mier, a Mexican priest famous for his hatred of the Spaniards. Mier denied even that the Spaniards had brought Christianity to the New World. Arenas begins with a letter to the friar: "Ever since I discovered you in an execrable history of Spanish literature, described as the friar who had traveled over the whole of Europe on foot having improbable adventures; I have tried to find out more about you." In a meditation on the nature of fiction, Arenas discovers that he and Servando are the same person, and author and character become one. Reinaldo Arenas, born on July 16, 1943 in Cuba, endured a harsh and dismal childhood. Poverty stricken, Arenas joined Castro's revolution in an attempt to better society. He soon fell out of favor with Castro's regime and his writings were censored. Arenas continued to work as a writer, journalist, and editor, and was imprisoned 1974 to 1976. Arenas was deported to America in 1980 when Castro was ridding Cuba of criminals, artists, and others whom he perceived as adversaries. Arenas's works include novels, short stories, poems, and newspaper articles. In addition to the influence of his poor background, his writing is marked by the homosexual lifestyle he lived and includes such noteworthy titles as Farewell to the Sea, Graveyard of the Angels, and The Brightest Star. On December 7, 1990, while suffering from complications of AIDS, Arenas committed suicide by combining massive doses of drugs and alcohol. He outlined his reasons for taking his life in a letter written to a Spanish newspaper.

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