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Lezama Lima, José (1910-1976)  
page: 1  2  3  

Although most of the principal characters of the first novel reappear, the story is mostly centered on Fronesis, now living in Paris. Fronesis, whose reckless and carefree sensuality is described on various occasions, attracts a number of individuals, both male and female, who cannot resist his physical and spiritual beauty.

In a study of Oppiano Licario, Benito Pelegrín provides a close reading of Fronesis's sensual and dream presented in Chapter 3, in which he finally is able to accept Foción's (homosexual) friendship: "The reality of the dream was to show [Fronesis] the secret closeness and sensuality of his friendship with Foción" (my translation).

In Oppiano Licario, according to Pelegrín, "we no longer have the good heterosexual in opposition to the depraved homosexual, a Paradiso opposed to an Inferno, but rather the homosexual object is split in pairs of opposites between the friend and the enemy, the good and the bad, the individual that can be accepted and the individual that should be rejected" (my translation).

The modern reader should not be quick to judge Lezama's portrayal of homosexuality harshly. In both Paradiso and Oppiano Licario, homosexual interludes occupy a considerable portion of the texts.

The mere fact that the author dared to express detailed sexual relations between men, at a time when such expressions were generally looked down on in Latin-American literature and severely censored by the Cuban revolutionary establishment, represents an important turning point in Latin-American letters that paved the way for a greater representation of homosexual desire.

Francisco Soto

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social sciences >> Overview:  Cuba

Although one cannot speak of a gay community in Cuba, one can speak of a homoerotic environment for meeting and socializing in Havana that is constantly moving and reshaping itself.

literature >> Overview:  Latin American Literature

Although Latin Americans have produced many works that have homoerotic themes or gay and lesbian characters, their sensibilities are largely different from those of North American and European writers.

social sciences >> Overview:  Santería and Vodou

Santería, Vodou, and related belief systems comprise a complex of religious ideas, practices, and imagery whose origins can be traced to West African traditions.


Bejel, Emilio. Jose Lezama Lima, Poet of the Image. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1990.

Lihn, Enrique. "Paradiso, novela y homosexualidad." Hispamérica 8.22 (1979): 3-21.

Pelegrín, Benito. "Espejo, doble, homologo y homosexualidad en Oppiano Licario de José Lezama Lima." Coloquio internacional: escritura y sexualidad en la literatura hispanoamericana. Madrid: Editorial Fundamentos, 1990. 129-154.

Pellón, Gustavo. José Lezama Lima's Joyful Vision. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1989.

Pereira, Manuel. "El curso délfico." Quimera no. 110 (mayo 1992): 28-39.

Pérez Firmat, Gustavo. "Descent into Paradiso: A Study of Heaven and Homosexuality." Hispania 59.2 (1976): 247-257.

Rodríguez Monegal, Emir. The Borzoi Anthology of Latin American Litereature, Vol 2. New York: Knopf, 1977.

Souza, Raymond D. Major Cuban Novelists. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1976.

_____. The Poetic Fiction of José Lezama Lima. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1983.


    Citation Information
    Author: Soto, Francisco  
    Entry Title: Lezama Lima, José  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated September 15, 2010  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  


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