Cuban leader Fidel Castro leaves strong mark on modern political literature

[Literature ★★★★]

Cuba Fidel Castro

(P1) The leader of the Cuban revolution and former President, Fidel Castro, who died on Friday night at the age of 90, left a strong mark on contemporary political literature, the media reported on Sunday.

(P2) A voracious reader, Castro was a close friend of Colombian writer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who affirmed that “an intellectual friendship” united them and they often discussed literature together, Xinhua news agency reported.

(P3) Castro once described himself as a “frustrated journalist” and, since leaving power in 2008, has often written opinion pieces for the state media.

(P4) The former President has remained politically active, beginning his column, “Reflections of comrade Fidel”, in March 2007, which eventually grew to over 400 articles on international and historical matters.

(P5) On various occasions, Castro referred to himself as “a soldier of ideas”. In 2011, Fidel Castro passed on the mantle of First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) to his brother Raul Castro. At that time, Raul said: “Fidel is Fidel and does not need any rank to always occupy a leading place in the history, in the present, and the future of the Cuban nation.”

(P6) “While he has the strength to do so, and as he is luckily at the height of his political thought, from his modest condition of party militant and soldier of ideas, he will continue to contribute to the revolutionary struggle and to humanity’s most noble proposals,” Raul had said.

(P7) Since then, Castro was rarely seen or heard in public, a fact many saw as him not wanting to interfere in the updating of the island’s economic model, led by Raul. However, Castro published a number of books, including “One Hundred Hours with Fidel”, a lengthy autobiographical interview with the French-Spanish journalist, Ignacio Ramonet, in 2006.

(P8) In November 2008, “Peace in Colombia” was published, a text in which Castro revealed the inner workings of negotiations between different Colombian governments and Cuba and Havana’s participation in the Colombian peace process.

(P9) In 2010, the Cuban leader published “The Strategic Victory”, chronicling his early setback in the Sierra Maestra in the summer of 1958 and his constant days of struggle against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.

(P10) That same year, “The Strategic Counteroffensive” was published, which was a continuation of the previous volume, containing war stories, military orders, letters, photos, and maps of the push onto Havana and victory.

(P13) In 2012, came out “Guerrilla of Time”, another long autobiographical interview, spanning over 1,000 pages in two volumes, this time with Cuban journalist Katiushka Blanco.

(P14) Son of a Spanish immigrant and a Cuban farmer, Castro was born in Biran, a village in Holguin province, and went on to become one of the most prominent figures of the 20th century.

WORDS: 453

SOURCE: http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/books/cuban-leader-fidel-castro-leaves-strong-mark-on-modern-political-literature-4398516/

VOCABULARY: voracious, mantle, chronicling, counteroffensive, prominent

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. What do you think it was like to live in Cuba when Castro was in power?
  3. What types of literature do you like to read? Why?
  4. After reading this article, do you want to read some of Castro’s writings? Why or why not?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. At one point in time, Castro described himself as a ___________________.
  2. When did Castro relinquish his power to his brother?
  3. In one of Castro’s writings, ___________________, he writes about helping Colombia with their internal peace.
  4. Who did Castro overthrow to gain power in Cuba?
  5. Castro’s parents were originally from what country?

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • left a strong mark on contemporary political literature (P1)
  • passed on the mantle (P5)
  • in the updating (P7)
  • revealed the inner workings of negotiations (P8)
  • went on to become (P14)

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Image source: AP http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/books/cuban-leader-fidel-castro-leaves-strong-mark-on-modern-political-literature-4398516/

French poet Yves Bonnefoy dead at 93

[Literature ★★★]

bonnefoy

(P1) Bonnefoy was born in 1923 in Tours, in central France, to a railway worker father and a schoolteacher mother.

(P2) In his early career, his work tended towards the surreal but he quickly turned away from this movement and his first classic, the 1953 “Du mouvement et de l’immobilite de Douve” (“On the motion and immobility of Douve”), went against the prevailing contemporary literary trends.

(P3) His writing career extended well into his 80’s and he picked up several literary awards along the way, including the 1987 Goncourt prize for poetry.

(P4) He acquired legions of fans that admired his lack of attachment to a “concept.”

(P5) “What saddens me is to see that our education system does not give poetry the place it deserves,” he told French radio in a recent interview.

(P6) “Everything around us can serve as an inspiration for poetry,” he said, which he saw as “a way of discovering the fundamental meaning of life.”

WORDS: 156

SOURCE: http://www.france24.com/en/20160702-french-poet-yves-bonnefoy-dead-93

VOCABULARY: railway, surreal, prevailing, legions, fundamental

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. What type of literature do you like? Why?
  3. Do you think poetry deserves more attention in schools? Why or why not?
  4. Do you admire Mr. Bonnefoy for his lack of attachment to a “concept”? Why or why not?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. Which part of France was he born in?
  2. What prize was bestowed on him?
  3. He didn’t have a lot of followers. (T or F)
  4. Who recently spoke with Mr. Bonnefoy?
  5. According to Mr. Bonnefoy, not all that exists can influence poetry. (T or F)

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • tended towards (P2)
  • literary trends (P2)
  • extended well into the 80’s (P3)
  • the place it deserves (P3)

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Image source: © Hector Guerrero, AFP http://www.france24.com/en/20160702-french-poet-yves-bonnefoy-dead-93