FOUR MEN: Living the Revolution by Oscar; Ruth Lewis & Susan Rigdon Lewis

FOUR MEN: Living the Revolution

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Before the project was short-circuited by an ideological change of heart on the part of the Cuban government in 1970, anthropologist Oscar Lewis had persuaded both Castro and the US State Department to allow his researchers to study the ""culture of poverty"" and its responsiveness to the revolution. Four Men, the first of three volumes, represents a scaled-down version of the-original project. Of the four men profiled, three are former slum dwellers of Las Yaguas, a Havana barrio (now razed), the fourth a young illiterate vagabond with no expectations until the new regime made him a revolutionary waiter, Each discusses--in the free-form fashion Lewis all but invented--his parents, children, wives, jobs, and deprivations before and after 1959. They represent different degrees of ""integration"" into the new order, but it is clear that all--including Benedi, the most committed--carry older values and traditions with them. The Afro-Cuban religious cults persist alongside the public-service projects of the Committee for the Defense of the-Revolution; ""free-union"" marriages are preferred to the government-encouraged official ones; the new housing developments are solid and safe but people miss the spontaneity and casual interdependence of barrio life. Least affected is the violent sexism of the men, insistent upon submissive wives who gracefully accept their girlfriends. Lewis' own evaluation of this material is sorely missed (he died in 1970) and the volume lacks the charged emotion of The Children of Sanchez and La Vida. Ironically, the fact that the subjects didn't develop ""dependency relationships"" with their interviewers and, ""on the whole demonstrated a greater sense of security and self-respect,"" may have lessened their need for autobiographical confession. The chronic insecurity of their lives has been considerably eased, particularly, it would seem, for the women who will be the subjects of Volume II.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1977
Publisher: Univ. of Illinois Press