Virgilio Pinera is considered one of the most original authors of the Cuban literature.
Virgilio Pinera was born in Cardenas, Matanzas, on August 4th, 1912; surveyor was the father and teacher the mother. His family moved, for reasons of work, to Guanabacoa, in Havana. In 1925 he moved to Camagüey, and in this city attended high school.
He founded in 1935, with Luis Martinez and Aníbal Vega, the Brotherhood of Cuban Youth, an organization whose primary purpose was the dissemination of culture and whose tasks was the presentation in Camagüey of “The Cave” Theatre Art Group of the capital. It is then defined his vocation as a writer and wrote his first significant poems.
In 1937 he settled in the capital and joined the Faculty of Arts at the University of Havana with free tuition, requested by him given the family precarious economic situation, stated in letter to that institution. In 1940 he received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Havana.
He published his first poetry book in 1941: The Furies. In the same year he wrote his play Electra Garrigo, perhaps the best and most important of all his vast repertoire.
He founded and directed in 1942 the Poet, Magazine of very brief life -only two numbers-, where he introduced his essays “Eristica of Valery” and “Terribilia Meditans” pages of great interest for what they reveal about the author, his worldview and their concerns about the problems of writing, a subject that obsessed him throughout life.
Virgilio Pinera premiered in 1948 Electra Garrigo by the “Prometheus” theater group and under the direction of Francisco Morin, in the “Valdes Rodriguez” Theater in Havana. The work is the reduction of the Greek myth to the level of parody and mockery. The work, at the time of his solo debut, sparked controversy and protests, but over the years it has become a benchmark. Cold Air, another of his best pieces, was performed in 1962, but was already written four years earlier. The extensive work, autobiographical, tells the story of a family that refuses to proletarianize, and lives in a world of values that disappears. The drama illustrates the crisis of the family in over eighteen years.
His work False Alarm 1948 is considered the first piece of absurd theater in Latin America, antecedent even the work of Ionesco, The Bald Soprano, 1950.
Other works of Virgilio Pinera
Other works were Jesus (1950), The Wedding (1958), The Skinny and the Fat (1959), The Philanthropist (1960) and Two Old Panics, with whom he won the Casa de las Américas Prize in 1967.
He traveled throughout Latin America, the United States and Europe. He collaborated in publications like Silver Spur, Grafos, Origins, La Gaceta de Cuba, Union, among others. In Buenos Aires, Argentina worked as an official of the Cuban consulate, as a proofreader and later as a translator of Argos publisher.
The revolutionary triumph determines the publication of numerous essays and critical articles of Piñera in Revolution and its supplement Mondays of Revolucion, belligerent and passionate judgments on his contemporaries and some authors of the past.
In 1960 he reenacts in Havana Electra Garrigo, which was attended by Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, both visiting Cuba at the time.
In 1967 he won the Prize of the Casa de las Americas Contest in theater for his Two Old Panics piece.
During his last years he continued writing and w attended gatherings of friends. On October 18th, 1979 in Havana he died of a heart attack. He was in the middle of the creation of his play “A Pick or a Shovel.” To honor him, the Cuban government created the “Virgilio Pinera” Prize of Theater.