Notes on Cecilia Valdes
“Cecilia Valdes or La Loma del Angel (The Angel Hill)” is a novel considered one of the most representative of the Cuban identity, both by his subjects as its argument. Cecilia Valdes is a lively description of classes and the political struggles of Cuba in the early nineteenth century. It also constitutes the first anti-slavery novel and a lucid critique of the colonial regime and the society of the time. In it, the Cuban author Cirilo Villaverde reflects the Colonial Havana life around 1830. This novel has two volumes. The first one was published by the Lino Valdes´s literary press by mid 1839. The whole novel was published in New York in 1879 and in final version in 1882.
Artistic expressions about Cecilia Valdes
There are multiple and varied artistic expressions of Cuban culture that are related to Cecilia Valdes. Today people remember the popular phrase: “I am Cecilia, Cecilia Valdes”, inspired by the novel and composed by Gonzalo Roig. It is an operetta that has also become a symbol of Cuban identity through its music. It is considered as the most representative Cuban zarzuela worldwide. Like Cirilo Villaverde’s novel this musical work constitutes a characteristic element of national identity and therefore the novel and the zarzuela together unify us in the pursuit of our national values and roots. The novel and the zarzuela are considered the first of its kind. There the lyric reinforces the dramatic elements of the works, the romance of his subject and the colonial manners. Both are marked by a tragic or at least unfortunate fate. Another significant example about Cecilia Valdes was offered the Cuban film director Humberto Solas, who filmed a motion picture 1982. With an impressive staging, a good narrative resources and acting direction, even of the extras, this was a movie misunderstood by part of the public and the critics. On the other hand, it is important to say that is still unknown if Cecilia Valdes was a real person or was pure imagination of its creator. However, in the Colon Cemetery in Havana City you can find today a ruined tomb which revives the legend of Havana mulatto girl that inspired Cirilo Villaverde to write his famous novel. Anyway, Cecilia remains the sensual, sassy and captivating mulatto girl courted by all men. At the same time, this natural and voluptuous woman will be recurring symbol in the Cuban national imaginary as a faithful representation of the Creole woman.