On February 14, 1898 in Sagua la Grande, a former province of Las Villas, Jorge Mañach y Robato was born.
Philosopher, essayist, journalist, prolific and controversial intellectual, his vast work covers philosophy, academics, essays, and critiques of art and local customs. Concerned about national culture, its state and destiny, he prepared himself through studies at universities in the United States, France and Cuba; and he does not hesitate to investigate both the deep waters of philosophy and culture as well as the tiny and seemingly insignificant aspects. And all of this is presented in careful and harmonic prose, free of banalities, in a unique style that earns it the right to be considered one of the great literary achievements of the Spanish tongue.
Conscious of not having managed to outline even the figure of Mañach, to close this brief reminder of his 110th anniversary, I want to provoke the reader with these questions that often plague me.
What would our Jorge write on observing the current horse carts we use for transport? Would he continue calling the old Ford autos “insolent and barbaric”? What would he say of the new Mitsubishis and Hyundais?
What essay would he dedicate, not to the state of our high culture, nor even to the average or mass culture, but to our lack of education, the most basic, the formal one, moral and civic?
What would he conclude on discovering that many Cubans, most of them young, have, for decades, followed a path means they will die outside their country, albeit only a few miles offshore?