Severo Sarduy

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Severo Sarduy (25 February 1937, Camagüey, Cuba – 8 June 1993, Paris) was a Cuban poet, author, playwright, and critic of Cuban literature and art. Some of his works deal explicitly with male homosexuality and transvestism.[1][2][3]


Born in a working-class family of Spanish, African, and Chinese heritage, Sarduy was the top student in his high school, in Camagüey, and in 1956 moved to Havana, where he began a study of medicine. With the triumph of the Cuban revolution he collaborated with the Diario libre and Lunes de revolución, pro-Marxist papers. In 1960 he traveled to Paris to study at the Ecole du Louvre. There he was connected to the group of intellectuals who produced the magazine Tel Quel, particularly to philosopher François Wahl, with whom he was openly involved[4]

Sarduy worked as a reader for Editions du Seuil and as editor and producer of the Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française. Sarduy decided not to return to Cuba when his scholarship ran out a year later. Disaffected with Castro’s regime and fearful of its persecution of homosexuals and the censorship imposed on writers, Sarduy never went home.

In 1972 his novel Cobra won him the Medici Prize. He was among the most brilliant essayists writing in Spanish and "a powerful baroque narrator, full of surprising resources."[5] As a poet, he was considered one of the greatest of his time. He was also a more or less secret painter; a major retrospective of his work was held at the Reina Sofía Museum of Madrid after his death.

He died due to complications from AIDS just after finishing his autobiographical work Pájaros de la playa (translated as Beach Birds by Suzanne Jill Levine and Carol Maier). To this day, his writings are difficult to access for a Cuban audience, whereas his books are available to the French and international public.


  • Gestos. 1963. Novel
  • De donde son los cantantes. 1967
  • Escrito sobre un cuerpo. 1969. Essays
  • Flamenco. 1970. Poems.
  • Mood Indigo. 1970. Poems
  • La playa. 1971. Pieza radiofónica / radio play
  • La caída. 1971. Pieza radiofónica / radio play
  • Relato. 1971. Pieza radiofónica / radio play
  • Los matadores de Hormigas. 1971. Pieza radiofónica / radio play
  • Flamenco. 1971. Poems
  • Mood Indigo. 1971. Poems
  • Cobra. 1972. Novel
  • Barroco. 1974. Essays
  • Para la voz. 1977. Radio Plays ("La playa," La caida," Relato," and "Los matadores de Hormigas")
  • Big Bang. 1974. Poems
  • Maitreya. 1978. Novel
  • Daiquiri. 1980 . Poems
  • La simulación. 1982. Essay
  • Colibrí. 1984. Novel
  • Un testigo fugaz y disfrazado. 1985 Poems
  • El cristo de la Rue Jacob.1987. Essays
  • Nueva inestabilidad. 1987. Essays
  • Ensayos generales sobre el barroco. 1987. Essays
  • Cocuyo. 1990. Novel
  • Pájaros de la playa. 1993. Published posthumously just one month after his death.
  • Obra Completa, Two volumes. 1999. Edited by Francois Wahl. UNESCO. Paris.


  1. ^ Gosser-Esquilín, Mary Ann. "Sarduy, Severo." In David William Foster, ed., Latin American Writers on Gay and Lesbian Themes: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook, 414-418. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994. ISBN 0-313-28479-2
  2. ^ Mira, Alberto. "Sarduy, Severo." Para entendernos: Diccionario de cultura homosexual, gay y lésbica, 648-650. Barcelona: Ediciones de la Tempestad, 1999. ISBN 84-7948-959-6
  3. ^ Duno Gottberg, Luis, Solventando las diferencias: la ideología del mestizaje en Cuba. Madrid, Iberoamericana – Frankfurt am Main, Vervuert, 2003
  4. ^ Bill Marshall, France and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History (Transatlantic Relations), ABC-CLIO Ltd, 2005, p.1045 [1] Tel Quel promoted structuralism and experimental writing. He was also involved with Mundo Nuevo, a Spanish-language journal directed by Uruguayan critic Emir Rodriguez Monegal.
  5. ^ Ruy Sánchez, Alberto. "Severo Sarduy y el ritual del colibrí", in Cuatro escritores rituales. Conaculta, 2000. ISBN 970-18-7269-X

Further reading[edit]

  • The name game: writing/fading writer in De donde son los cantantes / Oscar Montero. 1988
  • Severo Sarduy and the religion of the text / Rolando Perez., 1988
  • Orientalism in the Hispanic literary tradition: In dialogue with Borges, Paz, and Sarduy / Julia Kushigian. 1991
  • Between the self and the void: essays in honor of Severo Sarduy / Alicia Rivero Potter. 1998
  • Hispanic literature criticism. Supplement / Susan Salas., 1999
  • From Cuba with a Song. Translated by Suzanne Jill Levine. Sun & Moon, 2000
  • Absolutely Postcolonial: Writing Between the Singular and the Specific / Peter Hallward. 2001
  • The review of contemporary fiction : Douglas Glover, Blaise Cendrars, Severo Sarduy / Rolando Pérez. 2004
  • “Severo Sarduy (1937-93).” The encyclopedia of Caribbean literature. Vol. 2: M-Z. Ed. D.H. Figueredo. * 2006
  • Severo Sarduy and the Neo-Baroque Image of Thought in the Visual Arts. Rolando Pérez. 2012.
  • Severo Sarduy / Jorge Aguilar Mora. 1976
  • Severo Sarduy : el neobarroco de la transgresión / Adriana Méndez Rodenas. 1983
  • La temática novelística de Severo Sarduy : De dónde son los cantantes / José Sánchez-Boudy.1985
  • La estrategia neobarroca / Gustavo Guerrero. 1987
  • La ruta de Severo Sarduy / Roberto González Echevarría. 1987
  • Author/lector : Huidobro, Borges, Fuentes y Sarduy / Alicia Rivero Potter. 1991
  • Escrito sobre Severo : una relectura de Sarduy / Francisco Cabanillas. 1995
  • Severo Sarduy y Pedro Almodóvar : del barroco al kitsch en la narrativa y el cine postmodernos / Alejandro Varderi. 1996
  • La imagen y el cuerpo : Lezama y Sarduy / Virgilio López Lemus. 1997
  • Severo Sarduy : escrito sobre un rostro / Oneyda González. 2003
  • Severo Sarduy : alcances de una novelística y otros ensayos / Johan Gotera. 2005

External links[edit]