Translated into English for the first time, Andrés Avelino de Orihuela’s El Sol de Jesús del Monte is a landmark Cuban antislavery novel. Published originally in 1852, the same year as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (which Orihuela had translated into Spanish), it provides an uncompromising critique of discourses of white superiority and an endorsement of equality for free people of color. Despite its historical and literary value, The Sun of Jesús del Monte is a long-neglected text, languishing for 150 years until its republication in 2008 in the original Spanish.
The Sun of Jesús del Monte is the only Cuban novel of its time to focus on La Escalera, or the Ladder Rebellion, a major anticolonial and slave insurrection of nineteenth-century Cuba that shook the world’s wealthiest colony in 1843–44. It is also the only Cuban novel of its time to take direct aim at white privilege and unsparingly denounce the oppression of free people of color that intensified after the insurrection. This new critical edition—featuring an invaluable, contextualizing introduction and afterword in addition to the new English translation—offers readers the most detailed portrait of the everyday lives and plight of free people of color in Cuba in any novel up to the 1850s.
Writing the Early Americas
The topic of Orihuela’s novel is noteworthy and timely, and its availability in English will bring much-needed attention to the Spanish original. Equally significant, both the English translation and the Spanish original raise critical issues about slavery and the process of writing about slavery.