In his youth, Manzano was not allowed to play with other black children from the plantations. He was treated like a criollo or european child and had a comfortable life in comparison to other slaves in the important sugar region. However, the life of a house slave was isolating and left him ill-prepared for his next mistress. In , at the age of 40, Manzano escaped and became a free man. As a child, Manzano was forced to stay up till midnight sitting still on a stool.
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He published various works such as Poesias liricas followed by Flores pasageras Afterwards, he continued to publish for various journals. His autobiography portrayed the only documented account of Cuban slavery from the 19th century. The autobiography and some of his poems were published in England by British abolitionist [[Richard Robert Madden]] as Poems by a slave in the island of Cuba in He published the play Zafira, in and was falsely accused of the conspiracy of La Escalera in After his release from prison in he never wrote again.
He died in poverty in Part of the appeal is that there are few personal accounts by slaves themselves. This is especially true in Latin America where actual slave accounts are rare. MLA International Bibliography Manzano talks about how his mistress chose his mother as chief handmaid. His story opens with him speaking of his mistress who possessed the power over life and death and allowed him to be born.
Juan Francisco Manzano stands out as a domestic city slave who taught himself how to write against the odds. As a renowned poet he became a part of a group of Cuban reformist who,with a publicist and liberal writer named Domingo Del Monte, encouraged Manzano to write.
Also at the request of Del Monte who wanted to promote the abolitionist cause, Manzano was asked to narrate his life as a slave. The Spanish colonial regime suppressed the history of marginalized social groups such as the African and the Chinese during the period the autobiography was written.
The autobiography remained the property of Del Monte and remained unpublishable until which was the end of Spanish rule and supression. Until then, only the english version translated by Richard Madden was available.
In North America, slave narratives were manipulated by one person or another through editing and translation; details would be added to enhance dramatic effect. MLN MLA International Bibliography. Black writers were disregarded by the white establishment who wanted to preserve the slave economy. Often slaves needed white sponsors who could get their works published and distributed. His body did not belong to him.
His second mistress, Marquesa de Prado Ameno, exercised control by dressing him up. When dressed in rags, this symbolized her displeasure. His change of dress publicized symbolically him being stripped of his identity in front of others. He was not allowed to recite by heart or write letters.
He practiced writing letters with the discarded notes of his master. His first mistress exposed him to the arts, and, under her care, he memorized short plays, bits of opera and other works of theater.
Through writing he would find a way to express his own views. Del Monte turned Juan into an object for the testimonial of slave life to showcase the opinion of an enlightened middle class view on slavery. Letters to Del Monte do not show any instruction Manzano might have received from him.
A second letter to Del Monte shows him speaking with more confidence and certainty about his autobiography. Manzano submissiveness was no longer present in the later note.
Instead of giving Del Monte full rights to the text, he kept a part of the text to himself to write in a later book once he was free. Some details, however, remained that identified Manzano, such as how much it cost to liberate him or the fact that he was the only slave poet on the island. Madden included the slave narrative in a book that offered poems about abolition and an appendix containing conversations between him and Del Monte.
In the end, only a fourth of the text was written by the slave himself. Some incidents were altered to present the suffering of the slave with more intensity. After his silence, following slavery, he started his next project, Zafira, which spoke metaphorically of colonialism and slavery in Cuba. Zafira takes place in 16th Century Mauritania in North Africa.
The play follows Zafira an Arabian princess who mourns the loss of her husband and dreads the wedding with the Turkish pirate, Barbarroja, who wants to rule the coast. Her son, Selim, returns in disguise to reclaim the throne. He allies himself with the slave Noemi to challenge the reign of Barbarroja.
Later in the play, Selim possesses a mysterious letter which was not present in the Spanish version of the play. Zafira presents the letter to Barbarroja who responds to the letter with fear. Hispanic Review Academic Search Complete. Haiti stood as an example of freedom in an age that claimed human equality at birth.
The revolt led wealthy landowners to flee to Cuba bringing stories of the rebellion. French slaves were not allowed in Cuba for fear of another revolt.
The audience was already aware of a national consciousness, some of which identified with the anti-slavery sentiment of Zafira. His drama reflects the intellectual and political values of the enlightenment such as reason, order, justice and equality. The Spanish hero in the original version,was taken out in favor of the slave Noemi who represents AfroCuban slaves.
Molloy, Sylvia. Olsen, Margaret M. Schulman, Ivan A. Related Papers.
Juan Francisco Manzano