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Alejo Carpentier: 1904-1980: Writer Biography

Early Writing Led To Political Activism, Exiled In France, Return To The Americas, Works Proliferated With Voluminous Knowledge

Alejo Carpentier: 1904-1980: Writer.

One of the most important figures in modern Latin American literature, Alejo Carpentier wrote in a variety of forms that explored the ways that history and politics influenced the region's culture. His fiction, essays, and poetry consider the epic theme of European colonialism and its impact on the region's indigenous peoples. His work, which broke with more traditional literary styles, became an important influence for such major Latin American writers as Gabriel García Márquez and Carlos Fuentes.

Carpentier was born on December 26, 1904, in Havana, Cuba. His father, Jorge Julian Carpentier y Valmont, was a French architect; his mother was Russian. The couple met in Switzerland and had moved to Cuba only two years before Alejo's birth. In 1912 the family traveled to Russia to collect an inheritance. While in Europe, they traveled widely through Belgium, Austria, and Russia before settling in Paris. There, Carpentier studied at the Lycee Jeanson de Sally, where he perfected his command of French, which the family spoke at home. When the future writer was in his early teens the family returned to Cuba, settling in the countryside near Havana.

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