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José Lezama Lima (1910-1976) | University of Miami Finding Aids

Name: José Lezama Lima (1910-1976)

Historical Note:

José Lezama Lima was born to Rosa Lima Rosado and José María Lezama Rodda on 19 December 1910 at the Campamento Militar de Columbia, Marianao, near Havana. Lezama Lima was the second of three children, including two sisters, Rosa and Eloísa. José studied law at the University of Havana and graduated in 1938.

Poet, novelist and essayist, he had a solid foundation in the classics of the Spanish Golden Age and avidly studied the French Symbolists, who influenced his first book of poems: Muerte de Narciso (1937). He was one of the founders of the journals Verbum (1937), Espuela de Plata (1939-1941), Nadie Parecía (1942-1944), and Orígenes (1944-1956). He also collaborated in many Cuban magazines such as Gráfos, Diario de la Marina, Revista de la Biblioteca Nacional José Martí, and in foreign publications among which were Revista Mexicana de Literatura, El Heraldo Cultural (Mexico), Les Lettres Nouvelles (France), and Tri Quarterly (US).

Over the years his works have been studied by many literary critics, one of which, Emilio Bejel, considered that: "Most critics of Spanish American literature agree that José Lezama Lima is one of the truly universal writers of our time. His style, his poetic vision, and the unique role he defines for literature have been a continuing influence in Cuba, as well as throughout Latin America" (José Lezama Lima: Poet of the Image [Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 1990] p. 2).

Lezama Lima's works have been translated into many languages. He received the Premio Maldoror (Spain, 1972) for his Poesías completas. In 1968 he was honored by the Biblioteca Nacional José Martí and in 1970 by the Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba (UNEAC). Many seminars and conferences have bee dedicated to his works, and his literary production still receives international recognition.

Months after his mother's death in 1964, Lezama Lima married María Luisa Bautista Treviño. He died in Havana on 9 August 1976.

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