University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Orígenes Group

Cuban authors and artists who were associated with the prestigious literary and arts review Orígenes, which was founded by José Lezama Lima and José Rodríguez Feo in 1944, will be collected. More than forty issues of the journal were published by the time of its demise in 1956. Orígenes was one of the most prestigious journal of its day in Latin America, and certainly the most important in the Hispanic Caribbean; in the words of Frank McQuade, "it provided a focal point for the most promising poets and critics in Cuba in the 1940s and 1950s." The journal published poetry, short stories, and critical essays on literature, art, music, and philosophy. Orígenes also featured artwork by internationally recognized Cuban artists such as Mariano Rodríguez, Wilfredo Lam, and René Portocarrero. Among the foreign writers who contributed to the magazine were several would-be Nobel Laureates including Juan Ramón Jiménez, Albert Camus, and Vicente Aleixandre. In addition, excellent translations of works by authors such as Wallace Stevens, Anäis Nin, and T.S. Elliot were done by the journal's co-founder José Rodríguez Feo, and vastly increased the magazine's international importance.

It is important to point out that most of the members of the group – with the notable exception of Virgilio Píñera – were Catholic and were connected by a unifying aesthetic and religious visions. This makes the Orígenes group an especially appropriate area of concentration for Latin American Special Collections at the University of Notre Dame. Finally, members of the Orígenes group had many connections with major writers from the Southern Cone, many of whose works are being actively collected as part of the Robert O'Grady Collection.

The Orígenes group was comprised of the following artists and intellectuals:

  1. Poets and novelists: José Lezama Lima (the group's leader and co-founder), Virgilio Píñera, Eliseo Diego, Cintio Vitier, Fina García Marruz, Gastón Baquero, Father Angel Gaztelu, Octavio Smith, Agustin Pi, Justo Rodríguez Santos, and Lorenzo Garcia Vega.

  2. Artists: René Portocarrero, Mariano Rodríguez, Amelia Peláez, Alfredo Lozano, and art critic Guy Pérez Cisneros.

  3. Musicians: Julían Orbón and Jose Ardévol.

  4. Essayist, translator, co-founder and principal source of funding, José Rodríguez Feo. Several of the literary figures – especially Lezama Lima and Virgilio Píñera – are considered to be among the most important and influential authors of twentieth-century Cuba and major figures in modern Latin American letters.

We are fortunate to have acquired a complete run of the Orígenes. We are actively acquiring complete runs of the following literary journals that either led up to the foundation of Orígenes or succeeded it after its demise. Below are our current holdings as of February 2008:

  • Verbum, 1937: holdings complete

  • Espuela de Plata, 1939-1941: b (Oct.-Nov. 1939), C-D (Dec.-Mar. 1940), E-F (Apr.-Jul. 1940), and G (Feb. 1941)

  • Nadie Parecía, 1942-44: holdings complete

  • Clavileño, 1942-1944: no. 1 (Ag. 1942), no. 2 (Sep. 1942), nos. 4-5 (Nov. y Dbre. 1942)

  • Poeta, 1942-43: holdings complete

  • Ciclón, 1955-1959: holdings complete

  • Lunes de Revolución, September 1959 - October 1961 (Lunes was a weekly literary supplement to the newspaper Revolución.): 50 issues, including 12 numeros especiales

While the Orígenes group will be at the center of the collection, we also do well to complement the collection by acquiring for the stacks and special collections works, manuscripts, and letters of the following authors that had varying levels of contact with the group:

  1. Important contemporaneous Cuban authors such as Fernando Ortiz, Jorge Mañach, Nicolás Guillén, and Alejo Carpentier.

  2. Younger authors with varying degrees of closeness to the Orígenes group: Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Roberto Fernández Retamar, Antón Arrufat, Heberto Padilla, Severo Sarduy, Reinaldo Arenas, and Miguel Barnet.

  3. Contemporaneous authors from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, including:

    • Members of the "integralismo" and "trascendentalismo" groups which share poetic ideology with Orígenes: Francisco Matos Paoli, Luis Hernández Aquino, Samuel Lugo, Félix Franco Oppenheimer, and Francisco Lluch Mora.

    • The important group centered around the Dominican literary journal La Poesía Sorprendida (published 1943-1947), including Alberto Baeza Flores, Franklin Mieses Burgos, Freddy Gatón Arce, Manuel Rueda, Aída Cartagena Portalín, Antonio Fernández Spencer, and Manuel Llanes.

  4. Non-Cuban authors who were mentors or fellow travellers of the group: Juan Ramón Jiménez (Spain), María Zambrano (Spain), Witold Gombrowicz (Poland), and Wallace Stevens (U.S.A.).

  5. Ediciones Vigía: Over 300 examples of handcrafted books created in Matanzas, Cuba through collaborations between Cuban writers and artists.