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José Martí (1853-1895) is the most renowned political and literary figure in the history of Cuba. A poet, essayist, orator, statesman, abolitionist, and the martyred revolutionary leader of Cuba's fight for independence from Spain, Martí lived in exile in New York for most of his adult life, earning his living as a foreign correspondent. Throughout the 1880s and early 1890s, Martí's were the eyes through which much of Latin America saw the United States. His impassioned, kaleidoscopic evocations of that period in U.S. history, the assassination of James Garfield, the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, the execution of the Chicago anarchists, the lynching of the Italians in New Orleans, and much more, bring it rushing back to life.

Organized chronologically, this collection begins with his early writings, including a thundering account of his political imprisonment in Cuba at age sixteen. The middle section focuses on his journalism, which offers an image of the United States in the nineteenth century, its way of life and system of government, that rivals anything written by de Tocqueville, Dickens, Trollope, or any other European commentator. Including generous selections of his poetry and private notebooks, the book concludes with his astonishing, hallucinatory final masterpiece, "War Diaries", never before translated into English.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142437049
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/30/2002
Series: Classics Series
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 328,935
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

José Martí was a Cuban revolutionary and fighter for independence who was also known worldwide as a poet and a journalist. Referred to by many as the “Apostle of the Cuban Revolution,” Marti was born in Havana in the middle of the 19th century. Martí’s skills were not merely limited to creative writing, as he was also a very well-respected philosopher, translator, professor, publisher, Freemason, and political theorist. 

Esther Allen is an essayist and translator of Spanish and French. An associate professor at Baruch College, City University of New York, she directed the work of the PEN/Heim Translation Fund from its founding in 2003 to 2010, and cofounded PEN World Voices: the New York Festival of International Literature (2004). A two-time recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts translation fellowships, she was a fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library in 2009–2010. The French government has honored her as a Chevalier de l'ordre des arts et des lettres (2006). Visit her website at

Roberto González Echevarría is the Sterling Professor of Hispanic and Comparative Literatures at Yale University. He was awarded the 2010 National Humanities Medal by President Obama and has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a number of other grants for his work as a critic of Latin American literature and culture.

Table of Contents

Translated by Esther Allen with an Introduction by Roberto González Echevarría

José Martí: An Introduction by Roberto González Echevarría
Suggestions for Further Reading

Earliest Writings
Letter to His Mother from Prison
Political Prison in Cuba

Notebooks 1-3
Early Journalism:
The Poor Neighborhoods of Mexico City
Sarah Bernhardt
Impressions of America (by a very fresh Spaniard)

Prologue to Juan Antonio Pérez Bonalde's Poem of Niagara

Waking Dream/Sueño despierto
Fragrant Arms/Brazos fragantes
My Kinglet/Mi reyecillo
Son of My Soul/Hijo del alma

Free Verses/Versos libres:
My Verses
The Swiss Father/El padre suizo
Famous Island/Isla famosa
Love in the City/Amor de ciudad grande
I Hate the Sea/Odio el mar
Winged Cup/Copa con alas

Notebooks 4-15:
Undated Fragment
A Passion

from The Golden Age:
Pin the Tail on the Donkey: A New Game and Some Old Ones

Letters from New York:
Coney Island
The Trial of Guiteau
Tribute to Karl Marx, Who Has Died from La América: The Brooklyn Bridge; The Glossograph; Indigenous Art; Mexico, the United States, and Protectionism; Graduation Day
The Indians in the United States
The World's Biggest Explosion
Impressionist Painters
A Great Confederate Celebration
The Cutting Case
The Poet Walt Whitman
Class War in Chicago: A Terrible Drama
A Walking Marathon
New York Under Snow
Blaine's Night
A Chinese Funeral
Inauguration Day

Political Correspondecne:
Letter to Emilio Núñez
Letter to General Máximo Gómez
A Vindication of Cuba

Simple Verses/Versos sencillos:
I (I am an honest man/Yo soy un hombre sincero)
III (I hate the masks and vices/Odio la máscara y vicio)
XXVIII (Past the manor with the tomb/Por la tumba del cortijo)
XXX (Blood-hued lightning cleaves/El rayo surca, sangriento)
XXXVI (Yes, I know: flesh/Ya sé: de carne se puede)
XLV (I dream of marble cloisters/Sueño con claustros de mármol)

Notebooks 18-20

Letters from New York:
Our America
The Lynching of the Italians
The Monetary Conference of the American Republics
A Town Sets a Black Man on Fire

from Patria:
The Abolition of Slavery in Puerto Rico
My Race
To Cuba!
The Truth About the United States

The Montecristi Manifesto

Final Correspondence:
Letter to His Mother
Letter to Manuel Mercado

War Diaries:
Part I: From Montecristi to Cap-Haïtien
Part II: From Cap-Haïtien to Dos Ríos

Afterword by Esther Allen

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Martí is the most remarkable figure in the history of Cuba....No English-language collection is as comprehensive as this handsome new addition to the Penguin Classics."
Tom Miller, The Los Angeles Times Book Review

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Selected Writings 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I am very thankful for writers and philosopher like Jose Marti, Hans Christian Andersen and so many more throught the World that had the Magic to entertain us, an teach us how beautiful is to dream, I want to say that I wish that more human beings have aspirations to teach children that they have the right to dream and maybe all those sick adult who abuse children can be abolish from this world.