The Impures


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In Las impuras (The Impures) Miguel de Carrión sketches a picture of Havana’s gallant life in its third decade of republican existence with inferences that deeply penetrate the substrate of surface printing. There are glimpses that evoke the Naná de Zola and the scenes of the bohemian life of Murger, but the repercussions of the promiscuity of the students with elements of the underworld and prostitution are guessed. Indeed, there is no doubt that the consequences of this early contact with a crapulous environment, for want of adequate housing or university dormitories would be manifested later in these future professionals arrived from the field. His premature involvement in politics, at that time already corrupt to the core, with the total absence of a healthy party or a well-defined ideology, must also have affected the mentality of those young people, many of whom were called to lead the country. . One thing is the atmosphere of the great European university cities and very another the moral relaxation that our students knew, contaminated by the opportunistic defeatism that had taken over their parents after the initial frustration of the republic.
As it happens in the novels of Carlos Loveira y Cabrera, the identity between some protagonists and well-known real personalities is clearly perceptible. Among them stands out the extravagant courtesan Carmela, unrepentant squandering «who had been married and had, before entering fully into the whirlwind of gallant life, a certain refinement of manners and tastes.» These other words of Carrión are also significant: «In Havana it is difficult for a gallant woman to live on the bounties of one man. Our rich are stingy, as if they still preserve in this the tradition of their venerable ancestors, the shopkeepers and the storekeepers of jerk, who barely amassed their fortunes. The great patrimonial wealth does not exist anymore, and that of the politicians, enriched by the fraud is too recent for it to weigh in a balance of our national customs ».

Marcelo Pogolotti

(Description has been translated into English, book edition is in Spanish)