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Dictionary of Literary Influences

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Capek, Karel

ticularly influential with regard to his own aesthetic development and that he admired the ideas of Henri Bergson, the early twentieth-century French philosopher. Gide, Bergson, and Sartre were all important in shaping Camus’s existentialist and moralist philosophical tendencies.


Carlton Lake Manuscript Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas, Austin. Contains manuscripts and letters, including the manuscript of Le Malentendu, corrected page proofs of Les Justes, and the manuscript of Discours de Suède, Camus’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

George A. Smathers Libraries, Special Collections, University of Florida. Contains unpublished correspondence with Lucette Françoise Maeurer—including 45 autograph letters, 1 telegram, 1 convocation, and 3 envelopes.

Printed Sources

Bronner, Stephen. Camus: Portrait of a Moralist (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 1999).

Lottmann, Herbert R. Albert Camus: A Biography (New York: Doubleday, 1979); reprint, Gingko Press, 2002.

Todd, Olivier. Albert Camus: A Life, Benjamin Ivry (trans.), (New York: Knopf, 1997).

Joseph E. Becker

Cˇ APEK, KAREL (1890–1938)


Karel Capek was born in Malé Svatonˇovice (now in the Czech Republic) and lived most of his adult life in Prague. He studied at the universities of Prague, Berlin, and Paris, completing a doctorate in philosophy in 1915. He began working in 1917 as a journalist, first for the newspaper Národní listy and then, from 1921 until his death, for the respected Czech daily Lidové noviny. He published his first


humorous short stories in 1916 with his brother Josef Capek, who also was an important writer and modernist artist in interwar Czechoslovakia. During his


career, Capek authored collections of short stories, travel essays, feuilletons, translations of French poetry, detective stories, novels, and a biography of Czechoslovak President Tomásˇ Masaryk. Czech readers, including novelist Milan Kundera,


and scholars of his work regard Capek’s short stories and novels, especially the trilogy Hordubal (1933), Meteor (1934), and An Ordinary Life (1934), as his best literary work. He gained greatest acclaim, however, for his plays, especially the utopian drama R.U.R., which premiered in Prague in 1921 and was performed in New York in 1922 and London in 1923. The play introduced the Czech word “robot” to the


universal lexicon and brought Capek international recognition. Other plays were also produced throughout Europe and in North America, most notably From the Life of Insects (1921) and The Macropolous Case (1922), which composer Leosˇ Janácˇek made into an opera in 1928. As president of his country’s PEN Club (1925–33),


Capek was the principal representative of Czech arts and letters. His death on Christmas Day 1938, weeks after the Munich Agreement had dismembered Czechoslovakia, was regarded by Czechs as a symbolic end to the vibrant culture of the interwar republic.


Capek wrote once of his literary influences: “I could name three or four authors who did not influence me; otherwise, I try to learn from anything that comes to my


Capra, Frank


hands; I do not think much of originality” (Bradbrook 1998, 119). Indeed, Capek’s early literary work, written collaboratively with his brother Josef, reflects the influence of a succession of disparate authors and movements: Czech decadent modernism, Paul Ernst and German neoclassicalism, French unanism and Henri Bergson’s ideal of élan vital. The brothers’ upbringing (sons of a country physician, they devoted much time to exploring the woods and gardening) inclined them toward naturalism and fostered a skepticism of modernism’s extreme subjectivity. The start of World War I, which coincided with his final years of university studies,


fully jarred Capek from his earlier influences. He adopted a rational, objectivist philosophy that he maintained throughout his life. His doctoral dissertation followed the ideas of German art historians Ernst Grosse and August Schmarsow in arguing for an objective history and criticism of art. He also wrote at this time the essay “Pragmatism,” which advocated the ideas of William James (1842–1910) and


John Dewey (1859–1952). Capek found in pragmatism a philosophy for a humanistic democracy, one which allowed for a spirit of tolerance and a belief that discernible truth could be grasped in a manner both objective and embracing a range


of viewpoints. Capek saw cubism as an artistic corollary to this philosophy. He regarded himself as a “literary cubist,” taking different approaches to a character or situation in order to present it in the fullest light. As for contemporary writers,


Capek took inspiration from the utopian tales of H. G. Wells, the detective stories of G. K. Chesterton, and the dramas of George Bernard Shaw, all of whom he befriended. Critics and scholars have pointed in particular to Wells’s Island of Dr.


Moreau (1896) as an inspiration for Capek’s most famous work, R.U.R., as well as to Gas I (1918) by Georg Kaiser, Frankenstein (1818) by Mary Shelley, and the legend of the Prague Golem.



Archive of the National Literature Museum, Prague, Czech Republic: Karel Capek Collection (73 boxes), personal papers, manuscripts of published works, miscellaneous correspondence, photographs, drawings.

Printed Sources


Bradbrook, Bohuslava R. Karel Capek: In Pursuit of Truth, Tolerance, and Trust (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 1998).


Harkins, William E. Karel Capek (New York: Columbia University Press, 1962).


Makin, Michael, and Jindrˇich Toman (eds.). On Karel Capek (Ann Arbor: Michigan Slavic Publications, 1992).

Bruce R. Berglund

CAPRA, FRANK (1897–1991)

Born in Bisaquino, Italy, Frank Capra was just six years old when his family emigrated from Sicily to California in May 1903. They came from a rural and Catholic background. First he went to the local primary school on Castelar Street, in a poor Los Angeles neighborhood called “Little Sicily,” where he completed primary school in less than four years. Capra had to work his way through the Manual Arts High School. He received a university diploma in chemical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena (1915–18). Always ambitious, Capra went on to become one of the most popular film directors in the United States, the


Carnap, Rudolf

incarnation of the “New Deal.” In Capra’s movies, anybody could succeed because everyone had equal chances; you just had to be honest and sincere.

In his autobiography, Capra defined himself as an idealist and considered his personal vision similar to that of artists such as Hemingway, Gauguin, Homer, and Plutarch. Although Capra admitted he was fascinated by classical works such as Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, he openly preferred American popular novels such as Maxwell Anderson’s Valley Forge and Clarence Buddington Kelland’s Opera Hat. Capra could easily make a film from an unknown novel he read in Cosmopolitan, as he did with Samuel Hopkins Adams’s “Night Bus,” a story that became It Happened One Night, in 1934.

After working for years as a second assistant and gagman with Mack Sennett, Capra emerged as a film director in 1922. By 1936 he had become the first filmmaker to define himself as an author and therefore ask for his name to be placed before the movie’s title in the list of credits (Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, 1936). Capra’s most influential movies were produced during the 1930s: Platinum Blonde (1931), It Happened One Night (1934), Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). Twelve of his films were made with the help of playwright Robert Riskin (1897–1955). During the 1940s, Capra made two important movies: Meet John Doe (1941) and It’s a Wonderful Life (1947). But the director had much less success in the two next decades; Capra’s optimism and populism were not popular during and after the McCarthy years. Innocence was then seen as an excess of sentimentality. In American Vision: The Films of Frank Capra, Raymond Carney ranks Frank Capra’s movies in the tradition of American transcendentalism, along with artists such as Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent, and Edward Hopper and writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William James, and Henry James.


Frank Capra Archives, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut.

Film Archives

The following are in the Library of Congress:

Meet John Doe Test Footage, LC Control Number: 97513985.

The Donovan Affair—Excerpt Footage, LC Control Number: 95513440.

Turning point. Interview with Frank Capra, 1959. LC Control Number: 94838473.

Printed Sources

Basinger, Jeanine (ed.). The It’s a Wonderful Life Book (New York: Knopf, 1990).

Capra, Frank. The Name Above the Title. An Autobiography (New York: MacMillan, 1971). Carney, Raymond. American Vision: The Films of Frank Capra (University Press of New

England, 1996).

Gehring, Wes D. Populism and the Capra Legacy (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1995). Sklar, Robert, and Vito Zagarrio (eds.). Frank Capra: Authorship and the Studio System

(Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998).

Yves Laberge

CARNAP, RUDOLF (1891–1970)

Rudolf Carnap was born in Ronsdorf, Germany, into the pious family of Johannes Carnap, a business manager, and Anna Dörpfeld. After his father died


Carnap, Rudolf

in 1898, Carnap, his mother, and his sister moved to nearby Barmen, where, as a student at the Barmen Gymnasium, his favorite subjects were mathematics and Latin. In 1909 they moved to Jena. Carnap studied philosophy, mathematics, and physics at the Universities of Jena and Freiburg im Breisgau from 1910 to 1914. Among his Jena professors were neo-Kantian Bruno Bauch, under whom he participated in a year-long slow reading of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason; mathematical logician Gottlob Frege, who became his mentor and through whom he learned of Bertrand Russell and Georg Cantor; and Hegelian scholar Hermann Nohl. He read Sigmund Freud, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Ernst Heinrich Philipp Haeckel, Wilhelm Ostwald, and Baruch Spinoza.

Carnap had just begun to plan a doctoral dissertation in physics when World War I broke out. He served as a frontline soldier until 1917, when he was ordered to Berlin as a physics research officer. Since Albert Einstein was then in Berlin as director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics, Carnap used that opportunity to learn the theory of relativity. Back at Jena after the war and influenced by the neo-Kantianism of Paul Gerhard Natorp and Ernst Cassirer and the empiricism of Hermann von Helmholtz and Moritz Schlick, he wrote his dissertation, “Space” (Der Raum), under Bauch’s direction with suggestions from physicist Max Wien. For five intense years after receiving his doctorate in 1921, he privately studied Russell, Richard Avenarius, Hugo Dingler, Ernst Mach, Jules Henri Poincaré, Richard von Schubert-Soldern, Wilhelm Schuppe, and the Gestalt psychology of Max Wertheimer and Wolfgang Köhler, and wrote copiously on logic and the philosophical foundations of science.

Carnap met Hans Reichenbach, with whom he had corresponded for some time, Heinrich Behmann, Paul Hertz, and Kurt Lewin at a philosophy conference in Erlangen in 1923. In 1926 he moved to Vienna and became part of the “Vienna Circle,” the famous group of logical positivist philosophers that met from 1922 to 1938. Besides Schlick, the Circle included Gustav Bergmann, Herbert Feigl, Philipp Frank, Kurt Gödel, Hans Hahn, Bela von Juhos, Felix Kaufmann, Viktor Kraft, Karl Menger, Otto Neurath, Friedrich Waismann, and Edgar Zilsel. It discussed David Hilbert, Mach, Russell, Max Planck, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Ludwig Boltzmann, Karl Popper, Reichenbach, and many others germane to its philosophical program. Beginning in 1930 it had contact with the Warsaw group of logicians, including Alfred Tarski. Carnap moved to Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1931, and to the United States in 1935.


The major repository of Carnap’s manuscripts, correspondence, and personal papers is the Archives of Scientific Philosophy, Special Collections Department, University of Pittsburgh. Microfilm copies are available in several libraries worldwide.

Printed Sources

Cirera, Ramon. Carnap and the Vienna Circle: Empiricism and Logical Syntax, Dick Edelstein (trans.), (Amsterdam; Atlanta: Rodopi, 1994).

Creath, Richard (ed.). Dear Carnap, Dear Van: The Quine-Carnap Correspondence and Related Work (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990).

Friedman, Michael. A Parting of the Ways: Carnap, Cassirer, and Heidegger (Chicago: Open Court, 2000).


Carson, Rachel Louise

Hausman, Alan, and Fred Wilson. Carnap and Goodman: Two Formalists (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1967).

Hintikka, Jaakko (ed.). Rudolf Carnap, Logical Empiricist: Materials and Perspectives (Dordrecht; Boston: Reidel, 1975).

Mayhall, C. Wayne. On Carnap (Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2002). Michalos, Alex C. The Popper-Carnap Controversy (Hague: Nijhoff, 1971).

Sarkar, Sahotra (ed.). Decline and Obsolescence of Logical Empiricism: Carnap vs. Quine and the Critics (New York: Garland, 1996).

———. Logical Empiricism at Its Peak: Schlick, Carnap, and Neurath (New York: Garland, 1996).

Schilpp, Paul Arthur (ed.). The Philosophy of Rudolf Carnap (La Salle, Ill.: Open Court, 1963).

Eric v.d. Luft


Rachel Carson was born on May 27, 1907. Carson grew up in a Pennsylvania homestead near the Allegheny River, in a community whose rural charm was being replaced by industries. She inherited from her mother a passion for bird-watching and nature. She was interested in reading and writing at an early age and submitted a number of juvenile stories, poems, and essays as well as drawings to leading youth magazines such as St. Nicholas magazine, regarded by many as the best magazine ever published for children.

Carson’s stories and drawings reflected not only her keen observation of bird and animal life but also the kind of children’s literature read at her time. Her favorites were the animal stories by Beatrix Potter with their detailed drawings (The Tale of Peter Rabbit, for instance). She also discovered the novels of Gene Stratton Porter, who wrote about wildlife and nature as a source of moral virtue. Later, she became keenly interested in authors who wrote stories and poems about the ocean and the sea, such as Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad, and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Carson obtained her B.A. in English from Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham College) in 1928, and her M.A. in marine zoology from Johns Hopkins University in 1932. Writer, scientist, and ecologist, she is one of the most important voices that rose in the twentieth century. She expressed her love of nature both as a writer and as a marine biologist. In the early 1930s, she wrote radio scripts on marine life for broadcast programs such as “Romance under the Seas” and articles on natural history for the Baltimore Sun. In 1936 she began her career in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries as a scientist and editor and finally became the editor- in-chief of all publications for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, writing pamphlets on conservation and natural resources and editing scientific articles.

In her spare time she turned to more lyrical prose, as can be read in her article published in 1937 in the Atlantic Monthly, “Undersea,” showing her fascination for the natural world and confirming her dual talent as both a literary writer and scientist. She was thus encouraged to publish her first book, Under the Sea-Wind in 1941. Although she worked full-time, she pursued her research on marine life. In 1951, she published her first study of the ocean, The Sea around Us, which won the National Book Award and remained on the best-seller lists for 86 weeks. In the same year, she received the Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. She then undertook the writing of a book on the ocean’s shoreline, which was published as The Edge of the Sea in 1955 and remained a best seller for 23 weeks, in which she


Carter, James Earl Jr.

expressed her philosophy of ecology. Among her other writings were articles such as “Our Ever-Changing Shore” published in 1957 and “Help Your Child to Wonder” published in Woman’s Home Companion in 1956 and posthumously in 1965 as a book, The Sense of Wonder, glorifying the mysteries of the universe for children. Her writings were aimed at drawing public attention to the wonders of the natural world, and they brought her fame as a naturalist and popular science writer.

In 1958, Carson decided to write an article on the impact of DDT, and this venture turned into her most influential publication by far, Silent Spring, in 1962, in which she not only challenged the use of post–World War II synthetic pesticides but also called for a change in humans’ attitude toward the natural world. The following year she testified before the U.S. Congress, calling for new federal environmental policies, and was attacked by chemical industries at a moment when she was struggling for her life against breast cancer. Considered as a seminal work in environmentalism, Silent Spring has been translated into most of the languages in the world and is still in print in the United States 39 years after its first publication. It soon became the source of inspiration for deep ecology, grassroots environmentalism, and ecofeminism, and her legacy led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and mobilized public opinion on Earth Day 1970.


Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University holds the Rachel Carson Papers.

Charles E. Shain Library at Connecticut College holds Linda Lear’s archive of materials used for her biography, as well as personal papers given to Lear by Carson’s colleagues and friends.

Ferdinand Hamburger Archives, Milton Eisenhower Library at Johns Hopkins University, holds papers related to Carson’s days as a graduate student in marine biology during the early 1930s.

Ladd Library at Bates College holds the Dorothy Freeman Collection, letters of Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman.

Printed Sources

Brooks, Paul. The House of Life: Rachel Carson at Work (Boston, Mass.: Houghton-Mifflin Company, 1972).

Freeman, Martha (ed.). Always Rachel: The Letters of Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman, 1952–1965 (Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press, 1995).

Graham, Frank Jr. Since Silent Spring (Boston, Mass.: Houghton-Mifflin Company, 1970). Lear, Linda. Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature (New York: Henry Holt &Company, 1997).

Gelareh Yvard-Djahansouz


Jimmy Carter was born in Plains, Georgia, the first son and child of James Earl and Lillian Gordy Carter. Young Carter, who would become the thirty-ninth president of the United States, grew up on his father’s farm at Archery, Georgia, attended high school and junior college near his home, then attended Georgia Technological Institute in Atlanta, and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1946. He married Rosalynn Smith promptly thereafter, and in time they became the parents of four children. After a distinguished career as an officer in the navy specializing in nuclear submarines, he returned to Plains in 1953 to


Carter, James Earl Jr.

operate his late father’s lucrative agribusiness. He served in the Georgia state senate from 1962 to 1966 and as governor of Georgia from 1971 to 1975. By championing racial equality, he forced his state into the modern age and attracted national attention. A Democrat who showed extraordinary interest in human rights at both the domestic and international levels, he served as president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. In 1986 he and his wife dedicated the Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Through that center, they advance health and agriculture in the developing world, resolve conflicts, protect human rights, and promote world peace, taking up difficult cases not attended by governments or other international agencies. Renowned as one of the great peacemakers of the twentieth century, Carter had published fifteen books by 2001. His career has been driven by his love for his family, his Southern Baptist religion, and a passionate interest in reading that dated from his childhood. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2002.

The books that had the greatest impact upon Carter’s intellectual development include the Bible, James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941), the poetry of Welshman Dylan Thomas, the writings of the neo-orthodox theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, and Lev Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Agee’s book deals with impoverished Georgians during the Great Depression, Dylan Thomas offers faith and hope to innocent and underprivileged people, Niebuhr affirms that Christians can work within an immoral political structure, and Tolstoy dramatizes the lives of all types of people, great and small, in Russian society at the time of the Napoleonic invasion in 1812. Carter’s insatiable thirst for knowledge led him to read works on agriculture and science, politics and theology, literature and biography, and treatises on the American presidency. The books he read notably influenced his public career of service to humanity, and they are often reflected in his own autobiographical writings. From his campaign autobiography, Why Not the Best? in 1975, to his powerful memoir of his boyhood, An Hour Before Daylight in 2001, the themes of his favorite writers come to life in the details of his autobiography. He describes the southern political milieu that cast him into public life brilliantly in Turning Point: A Candidate, a State, and a Nation Come of Age (1992). His books that describe his own political career, approach to public service, and commitment to world peace include A Government as Good as Its People (1977), Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President (1982), Negotiation: The Alternative to Hostility (1984), The Blood of Abraham: Insights into the Middle East (1985), and Talking Peace: A Vision for the Next Generation (1993). His interest in spiritual guidance, outdoor life and conservation, and self-help is expressed in Living Faith (1996), Sources of Strength: Meditations on Scripture for a Living Faith (1997), An Outdoor Journal: Adventures and Reflections (1988), Everything to Gain: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life (with Rosalynn Carter, 1987), and The Virtues of Aging (1988). He published a children’s story, The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleeger (1995), which was illustrated by his daughter Amy. His most penetrating probe into his own life and psyche is found in his single volume of poetry,

Always a Reckoning and Other Poems (1995).


The principal archives are the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta, Georgia. The Georgia Department of Archives and History in Atlanta contains his governor’s correspondence.


Castro, Fidel

Printed Sources

Anderson, Patrick. Electing Jimmy Carter: The Campaign of 1976 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1994).

Bourne, Peter G. Jimmy Carter (New York: Scribner, 1997).

Brinkley, Douglas. The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter’s Journey Beyond the White House

(New York: Viking, 1998).

Carter, Hugh A. Cousin Beedie and Cousin Hot (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1978). Carter, Rosalynn. First Lady from Plains (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1984).

Fink, Gary M. Prelude to the Presidency (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980). Glad, Betty. Jimmy Carter: In Search of the Great White House (New York: Norton, 1980).

Godbold, E. Stanly Jr. “Dusty Corners of the Mind: Jimmy Carter’s Poetry,” Studies in the Literary Imagination 30 (Spring 1997), 107–77.

Hargrove, Erwin C. Jimmy Carter as President: Leadership and the Politics of the Public Good

(Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1988).

Schramm, Martin. Running for President (New York: Pocket Books, 1976). Stroud, Kandy. How Jimmy Won (New York: Morrow, 1977).

Witcover, Jules. Marathon (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1977).

E. Stanly Godbold Jr.

CASTRO, FIDEL (1926– )

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was born to a wealthy landowning family in Oriente Province, Cuba, on August 13, 1926 (1927 according to some sources). He first attended public school, then the private Colegio La Salle, Colegio Dolores, and Colegio Belen, from which he graduated in 1945. At Belen, he studied Cuban history and Jose Martí, the father of the Cuban independence movement. Castro continued his education at the University of Havana Law School, receiving his law degree in 1950. At Havana he became increasingly interested in politics, joining the Ortodoxo Party led by Eduardo Chíbas. Chíbas lost the presidential election in 1948 and ran again in 1952, but committed suicide before the election was held. After Chíbas’s suicide and before the election, Fulgencio Batista led a bloodless coup and took control of the Cuban government. Castro appeared before Cuba’s highest court to argue that Batista had violated the 1940 Constitution, but the action was in vain. Castro then organized and launched an attack against the Moncada military barracks at Santiago de Cuba on July 26, 1953. The attack failed and Castro was captured. At his closed trial, Castro delivered the “La Historia Me Absolvera” (“History Will Absolve Me”) speech. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but released as part of a general amnesty for political prisoners in 1955. Castro immediately f led to Mexico and organized the 26th of July Movement with the goal of ousting Batista. An invasion of the north coast of Oriente Province on December 2, 1956, was unsuccessful, and only 12 men evaded capture, including Castro, his brother Raúl, and the Argentine revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Castro’s group hid in the Sierra Maestra Mountains and engaged in guerrilla warfare against the Batista regime. Within two years, Batista’s support in Cuba had dissipated, and he f led the island on January 1, 1959. Although initially refraining from formally consolidating power, Castro soon became head of state. Later in 1959, he passed an agrarian reform bill and reestablished normal relations with the Soviet Union. Castro personally led forces repulsing an American-sponsored invasion force of Cuban exiles


Castro, Fidel

authorized by President John F. Kennedy at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961 and, in response, suspended the 1940 Constitution and established stronger ties with the Soviet Union. In late 1961, Castro publicly declared himself a Marxist-Leninist and soon announced his intention to make Cuba a socialist nation. Tension between Cuba, the United States, and the Soviet Union came to a head the following year with the Cuban Missile Crisis. Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev removed nuclear weapons from Cuba, and Kennedy promised not to invade the island, but an angry Castro was excluded from the negotiations. As he continued his program of socialist reform at home, Castro aligned himself increasingly with global revolutionary groups. Castro remains in power in Cuba.

Castro’s influences are perhaps best evaluated by separating the periods before and after he assumed power. As a young revolutionary, many of Castro’s most formative influences were Cuban precursors, including Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, Father Félix Varela y Morales, Enrique José Varona, Carlos B. Baliño, and Juan Antonio Mella. The most prominent revolutionary precursors were Antonio “Tony” Guiteras, whose employment of guerrilla warfare and leftist vision of Cuba in the 1920s and 1930s were highly significant for Castro, and Jose Martí, Castro’s personal hero dating to his youth, who carried the mantle of Cuba’s war for independence until his death in 1895. Among Castro’s revolutionary comrades, the most significant is clearly Che Guevara, both from the standpoint of developing a coherent pragmatic approach to fomenting revolution and also from the standpoint of developing an increasingly coherent, and increasingly Marxist-Leninist, theoretical foundation. Ideologically, Castro’s most prominent influences became Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin, although scholars generally agree that Castro became a revolutionary prior to, and not as a result of, becoming a Marxist-Leninist (which Castro has frequently claimed). Che Guevara also encouraged Castro to read the works of Antonio Gramsci. Fundamentally, however, Castro’s thinking represents a melding of Marxist-Leninist theory, which emphasized the nature of socialism and communism but was insufficient for applying its theories to the Cuban experience, and the less theoretical but in many cases more immediately relevant writings of his Cuban revolutionary precursors.


Castro’s papers are tightly controlled in Cuba. See, however, the Latin American Network Information Center, Castro Speech Database, http://www.lanic.utexas.edu/la/cb/cuba/ castro.html, accessed October 19, 2003.

Printed Works

Bunck, Julie Marie. Fidel Castro and the Quest for a Revolutionary Culture in Cuba (University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994).

Castro, Fidel. History Will Absolve Me (Secaucus, N.J.: Lyle Stuart Inc., 1961).

Draper, Theodore. Castroism: Theory and Practice (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1965). Fagen, Richard. The Transformation of Political Culture in Cuba (Stanford: Stanford University

Press, 1969).

Liss, Sheldon B. Fidel!: Castro’s Political and Social Thought (Boulder: Westview Press, Inc., 1994).

Lockwood, Lee. Castro’s Cuba, Cuba’s Fidel (Boulder: Westview Press, Inc., 1990).

Paterson, Thomas. Contesting Castro: The United States and the Triumph of the Cuban Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).


Cather, Willa

Perez-Stable, Marifeli. The Cuban Revolution: Origins, Course, and Legacy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993).

Phil Huckelberry

CATHER, WILLA (1873–1947)

Born on December 7, 1873, in Back Creek Valley, Virginia, Willela Cather invented the name Willa for herself. She was known through the publication of her first four novels as Willa Sibert Cather, after which she dropped the adopted middle name. When she was nine years old, her family moved to Nebraska, where Cather gathered those indelible impressions that would become the seeds of her fiction.

In 1884, the family settled in the prairie town of Red Cloud where Cather had access to the personal library of Charles Wiener, a local merchant whose library included French classics, the German edition of Walter Scott’s novels, and English translations of Friedrich Schiller. Cather’s own family library contained many nineteenth-century authors such as Charles Dickens, Scott, William Makepeace Thackeray, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Ruskin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Thomas Carlyle; in addition there were volumes of William Shakespeare, history books, romances, and translations of Latin and Greek classics. During her time in Red Cloud, Cather took lessons in Latin and Greek and read portions of the Iliad and the Aeneid. A love for reading and keen observation skills shaped Cather’s youth in Nebraska so that at 14, she identified her hobbies as “snakes and Sheakspear.” Cather wrote and performed plays in high school, and after entering the University of Nebraska, she began writing drama criticism for the Nebraska State Journal in 1893 and later for the Pittsburgh Leader. Reflecting on her childhood in Nebraska, Cather wrote in her Pittsburgh book column that among the books “essential to a child’s library” are Pilgrim’s Progress and The Swiss Family Robinson.

After a six-year tenure as managing editor at McClure’s Magazine, Cather ventured full-time into fiction writing. As a young writer, Cather was influenced by two poets in particular: Poe and A. E. Housman, whom she visited in England and whose work influenced her poetry collection April Twilights (1903). In those years, Cather much admired Dickens, Thackeray, Emerson, Lowell, Longfellow, and Hawthorne. She attempted to imitate Henry James in some of her short stories in The Troll Garden (1905) and in her first novel, Alexander’s Bridge (1912). Cather described James as “a mighty master of language and keen student of human action and motives” (Woodress 1987, 108). But a powerful and more lasting influence on Cather was her brief friendship with Sarah Orne Jewett who, taking on a mentoring role, advised Cather to explore the region she knew best.

In midcareer, after her own literary success with O Pioneers! (1913), My Ántonia (1918), and One of Ours (1923), Cather paid tribute to Jewett by editing a collection of her stories. Cather wrote, “If I were asked to name three American books which have the possibility of a long, long life, I would say at once, The Scarlet Letter, Huckleberry Finn, and The Country of the Pointed Firs” (Woodress 1987, 357). Cather personally knew many of her literary contemporaries such as William Dean Howells, Theodore Dreiser, and D. H. Lawrence, but she preferred the streamlined style of Stephen Crane, whom she called “one of the first post-impressionists” (Woodress 1987, 100).


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