Jose Marti, Cuban national hero, was one of Latin America's most influential litereary and political figures. There is currently no introductory overview to his complex body of works. Jose An Introduction offers such an introduction to Marti's most pertinent, enduring ideas, exploring his writing on race, gender, the relationship between Cuba and the US, and issues of displacement and bilingualism. The writing is accessible on the undergraduate level, yet Montero does not oversimplify ambiguities and contradictions of Marti's work and life.
Don't let this book's slender spine and modest title fool you: It is not only an Introduction but an indispensable companion to the work of Cuban poet/journalist/revolutionary José Martí. The author, Oscar Montero, writes at the book's start that he considers it foremost a resource to educators. Martí's poetry, his reflections on popular United States figures (Emerson, Whitman, Grant, etc.), and his War Diaries are all works that should be better-taught in the United States -- not only in Spanish classes but in classes on American literature. In other places, Montero that he sees in Martí a truly revolutionary intellect open perhaps even to the acceptance of sexual difference, and although I wish he had developed that particular point more fully in this book, I appreciate his focus on Martí's depictions of women and interactions with people of different races. Even if you consider yourself a Martí expert, you'll want to pick up a copy of this book for the bibliography, which, when it was printed, was unmatched. Perhaps in another decade or so Montero will update the volume, taking into account what's currently underway what is apparently the very dynamic world of Martí studies.
I'm not a reader who often leaves a book unfinished, but I couldn't complete this one. While the content is well researched (and thus this would be a great book for research purposes), it's not the kind of book you want to read for the enjoyment of learning about the subject. I was looking for a general biography of Marti's life, this book focuses Marti's writing and experiences about living in America, its political, racial, and gender issues. There are chapters on Marti's poetry in regards to Emerson, and Marti's dramatic death.
An excellent primer to Marti, indispensable before diving into this most prolific of Cuban writers, father of Modernismo, National Poet, Leading Humanist, Founding Father of the Cuban Republic, Intellectual Author of the Cuban Revolution--the list goes on.