Guillermo Cabrera Infante

Birnam Wood Comes to Dunsinane

henry_fuseli_-_study_for_the_three_witches_in_macbeth_-_1980-8_-_auckland_art_gallery

“Study for the Three Witches in Macbeth” by Henry Fuseli, oil on canvas. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The First Apparition (“an armed Head”) warned him to beware Macduff, Thane of Fife; the Second (“a bloody Child”) prophesied that none of woman born could harm him. The Third Apparition (“a Child crowned, with a tree in his hand”) counseled him to assume the mettle of a lion:

                                                 Take no care

Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are.

Macbeth shall never vanquished be until

Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill

Shall come against him (4.1.90-94).

From then on, his purpose became firm and clear. He set to “crown my thoughts with acts” by seizing Macduff’s castle and the dominion of Fife. To ensure the end of Macduff’s issue, he resolved to kill “his wife, his babes and all unfortunate souls / That trace him in his line” (4.1.148-153).[1]

“I think nothing equals Macbeth,wrote Abraham Lincoln. “It is wonderful.”

Lincoln’s praise has stood the test of time. Hamlet may be a better play and King Lear a greater tragedy, but a special power inhabits Macbeth, which has led superstitious theater people to talk about the great play in hushed tones and to refer to its title by euphemisms such as “the Scottish play.”

Is there any other play the name of which we fear to speak? (more…)

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The Cuban Thing (Part 2 of 2)

El Morro lighthouse is located inside the fortress known as the Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro. This was built in 1845 and consists of an octagonal dome metal with specially designed to guide ships and aircraft crystals. Located approximately 45 meters above sea level, its light has a range of 18 nautical miles with two light flashes every 15 seconds , helping to avoid accidents as consequences of bad weather or poor visibility. El Faro, next to the Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro, has become the symbol of Havana capital of all Cubans. (Credit:  CO8MRF / Wikimedia Commons)

El Morro lighthouse is located inside the fortress known as the Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro. This was built in 1845 and consists of an octagonal dome metal with specially designed to guide ships and aircraft crystals. Located approximately 45 meters above sea level, its light has a range of 18 nautical miles with two light flashes every 15 seconds , helping to avoid accidents as consequences of bad weather or poor visibility. El Faro, next to the Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro, has become the symbol of Havana capital of all Cubans. (Credit: CO8MRF / Wikimedia Commons)

Brief Fragments of a Personal Cuban History

  1. The flight of Fulgencio Batista from Cuba (“to avoid more bloodshed”) during the early hours of January 1, 1959, marked the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.
  2. The most comprehensive and best written history of Cuba in English is Hugh Thomas’ Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom (New York: Harper and Row, 1971). Here is Thomas’ assessment of Cuba before the Castro Revolution:

Cuba’s social misery in the past was due to an extreme form of that public meanness and private affluence that characterizes North America as well as South. (p. 1487)

  1. Soon after Fidel Castro’s assumption of power, U.S. politicians condemned the new regime’s public executions of torturers, policemen, civil servants and suspected criminals as a “bloodbath.” Typically, Castro pointed out U.S. hypocrisy:

(more…)