Nostalgia, Shame and the Transplanted Cuban: "la cubana arrepentida"

Olga Lorenzo


Literature can illuminate and extend our understanding of the affect of shame. In this paper, I will use extracts from my fictional works, published and in progress, and other fictional work and poetry by Cuban and Cuban-American exile writers to illustrate some aspects of shaming in relation to the experience of being a Cuban-American migrant in the United States, particularly relative to the sense of exilic nostalgia for the lost homeland. I will also look at how shame is used by the minority culture to control, erode or slow the process of assimilation and to try to maintain the illusion of the superiority of the minority culture.


Exile; Shame; Cuba; Cuban Americans

Full Text:



Allatson, P. 2002, Latino Dreams: Transcultural Traffic and the U.S. National Imaginary, Portada Hispnica Series, No. 14, Amsterdam and New York, Rodopi.

Allatson, P. and McCormack, J. 2004, 'Exile: Typologies of Displacement and Displaced Activism.' Position paper presented at the Institute for International Studies Annual Research Symposium, Exile and Social Change, University of Technology, Sydney, NSW, July.

Alvarez, J. 1991, How the Garca Girls Lost Their Accents, Algonquin, Chapel Hill, NC.

Arenas, R. 1993, Before Night Falls: A Memoir, Viking Penguin, New York.

Bowen, M. 1978, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, Jason aronson, New York.

Bybee, J., ed. 1998, Guilt and Children, Academic Press, San Diego CA.

Cabrera Infante, G. 1994, 'Shipwreck with a Sunrise in the Background, ' in Mea Cuba, trans. K. Hall, Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, New York

Castro, M. J. 2000, 'The Trouble with Collusion: Paradoxes of the Cuban-American Way, in Cuba, The Elusive Nation, eds. D. J. Fernndez and M. C. Betancourt, University Press of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Dalziell, R. 1999, Shameful Autobiographies: Shame in Contemporary Australian Autobiographies and Culture, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.

Desnoes, E., ed. 1981, Los dispositivos en la flor: Cuba, literatura desde la revolucin, Ediciones del Norte, Hanover.

Doran, T. et al. 1988, A Road Well Travelled: Three Generations of Cuban American Women, Latin American Educational Centre, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Fernndez, D. J. and Betancourt, M. C., eds. 2000, Cuba, The Elusive Nation. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Fernndez, P. A. 1971, Los ni-os se despiden, Centro Editor, Buenos Aires.

Gaita, R. 1997, 'Not Right, ' Quadrant 41: 46-51.

Garcia, C. 1992, Dreaming in Cuban, Knopf, New York.

Goldberg, C. 1991, Understanding Shame, Jason Aronson Inc, Northvale, New Jersey.

Hijuelos, O. 1990, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Perennial Library, New York.

Hijuelos, O. 1993, Our House in the Last World, Persea Books, New York.

Hijuelos, O. 1999, Empress of the Splendid Season, HarperCollins, New York.

'Immigrants from Cuba Facing Image Problems, Poll Shows', Miami Herald 16 June 1997.

Kaufman, G. 1989, The Psychology of Shame: Theory and Treatment of Shame-Based Syndromes, Springer Publishing Company, New York.

Kristeva, J. 1982, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, trans. L. S. Roudiez, Columbia University Press, New York.

Lewis, H. B. 1971, Shame and Guilt in Neurosis, International University Press, New York.

Lichtenberg, J. D. 1999, 'George Eliot and Dilemmas of the Female Child', in Scenes of Shame: Psychoanalysis, Shame, and Writing, eds J. Adamson and H. Clark, State University of New York Press, New York, 101-110.

Lorenzo, O. 1996, The Rooms in My Mother's House, Penguin, Ringwood, Victoria.

Macquarie Dictionary, 1995, second edition, The Macquarie Library, Sydney.

McFarland, B. and Baker-Baumann, T. 1990, Shame and Body Image, Health Communications, Florida.

Miller, S. 1985, The Shame Experience, The Analytic Press, Hillsdale, NJ.

Miller, S. 1989, 'Shame as an impetus to the creation of conscience', International Journal of Psychoanalysis 70: 231-43.

Nathanson, D. L. 1992, Shame and Pride: Affect, Sex and the Birth of the Self, W.W. Norton & Company, New York.

Obejas, A. 1996, Memory Mambo, Cleis Press, Pittsburgh.

Obejas, A. 1998, 'We Came All the Way From Cuba So You Could Dress Like This?' in Cubana: Contemporary Fiction by Cuban Women, ed. M. Y-ez, Beacon Press, Boston.

Ortz, R. L. 1997, 'Caf, Culpa and Capital: Nostalgic Addictions of Cuban Exile', The Yale Journal of Criticism 10.1, 63 -84.

Parker, D. and Dalziell, R. et al., eds 1996, Shame and the Modern Self, Australian Scholarly Publishing, Kew, Victoria.

Pattison, S. 2000, Shame: Theory, Therapy, Theology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK.

Prez Firmat, G. 1994, Life on The Hyphen: the Cuban-American Way, University of Texas Press, Austin.

Rodrguez, A. 1995, 'Qu Culpa Tengo Yo.' No Se Parece a Nada (CD), Sony Music.

Schnarch, D. 1991, Constructing the Sexual Crucible. New York, W. W. Norton.

Schnarch, D 1997, Passionate Marriage: Love, Sex, and Intimacy in Emotionally Committed Relationships, W.W. Norton, New York.

Schneider, C. 1987, Shame, Exposure, and Privacy. New York, W.W. Norton.

Smorkaloff, P. M. 1999, Cuban Writers On and Off the Island, Twayne Publishers, New York.

Smorkaloff, P. M. 1997/98, 'Canon and Diaspora: A Literary Dialogue', Proyecto Cuba:

Tangney, J. 1998, 'How Does Guilt Differ from Shame?' in Guilt and Children, ed. J. Bybee, Academic Press, San Diego, CA, 1 - 14.

Valds, Z. 1996, Te Di La Vida Entera (reader's copy given to O.Lorenzo by Text Publishing for reader's report), Text: published as I Gave You All I Had.

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary. 1996, MICRA, Inc.

Wurmser, L. 1981, The Mask of Shame, John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.