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Lino Novás Calvo Papers

An inventory of his papers at the Syracuse University Archives


Creator: Novás Calvo, Lino, 1905-1983.
Title: Lino Novás Calvo Papers
Dates: 1955-1970
Size: 1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Abstract: The Lino Novás Calvo Papers contains drafts of his writings penned during his time at Syracuse University and a copy of his novel.
Language: Spanish
Repository: University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Ave., Suite 600
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010


Lino Novás Calvo (1903-1983), an esteemed Cuban author who came to the United States in exile, taught Spanish at Syracuse University from 1967 to 1974.

Novás Calvo was born on September 20, 1903 in a small village in Galicia, Spain. He attended school there and worked on farms until around 1920, when he immigrated to Cuba with a family member. Later in life, Novás Calvo would claim in interviews that he was born in 1903 and moved to Cuba as a young boy, but researchers have since discovered the truth about his early life. Though Novás Calvo did not spend as much of his youth in Cuba as he indicated, his writing has always been recognized as distinctly Cuban.

After years of supporting himself through difficult labor, Novás Calvo began to develop his literary career in 1928 when he published his first poem in a Cuban arts journal. More publications, of short stories and reviews, soon followed, and Novás Calvo quickly caught the eye of leading Cuban authors who appreciated the working-class perspective he brought to his writing. Critics note that this is seen in his authentic expression of the Cuban vernacular and his depiction of the internal struggles of characters who work everyday jobs.

After a few years of publishing, in 1931, Novás Calvo earned an assignment from a literary journal to travel to Spain and write about the ways people were experiencing the newly proclaimed Second Spanish Republic. While abroad on this assignment, he also wrote short stories with unique and influential literary elements, translated works by English-language authors such as William Faulkner, and published what would be his only novel, El negrero, about a Spanish slave trader. In 1936, at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, he took to war reporting, though some of his writing quickly landed him in dire political trouble. He was forced to flee the country to avoid execution, eventually returning to Cuba shaken and dismayed.

Upon his return, Novás Calvo began writing for Cuban publications once more, writing primarily short stories and avoiding political pieces. This lasted for several years, though by the 1950s his attentions shifted back to journalistic writing, as political tensions in Cuba escalated and his faith in the power of the arts wavered. In 1960, a year after Castro’s revolution, he felt he was no longer safe in Cuba. Fleeing for his safety once more, he made his way from the Colombian embassy to Miami to New York City.

Novás Calvo lived in New York City for several years, writing for literary journals, until he took a new position in 1967 as a professor at Syracuse University. He joined the University as a visiting professor teaching Spanish. He greatly enjoyed his time teaching in Syracuse, which was said to be some of the happiest years of his life. A biographer wrote that Novás Calvo felt his colleagues there appreciated him personally and professionally. While teaching, Novás Calvo was able to continue writing, though he did not publish as much as he did in previous years. He completed a collection of short stories, Maneras de contar, published in 1970, which would be his last collection.

Novás Calvo was forced to end his time at Syracuse University sooner than he would have liked due to health problems. After suffering a stroke in 1973, he retired the following year. Syracuse University awarded him the Emeritus title as a professor of Romance Languages. Following his retirement from teaching, he moved back to New York City, though he could not do much writing there due to his health issues. Before his death in 1983, he requested that he be buried at a Syracuse University cemetery.

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Scope and Content Note

The Lino Novás Calvo Papers contains Spanish-language drafts written from 1969 to 1970 and a 1955 printing of Novás Calvo's novel, El negrero.

The manuscripts in this collection include handwritten drafts of short stories, a book introduction, an article, and a book review. These materials are all dated between 1969 to 1970, during which time Novás Calvo was employed as a professor of Syracuse University. These drafts often very closely resemble the versions that were printed a few months later. Manuscripts for "El esposo invisible" and "Mi tío Antón Calvo" were published in 1970 as part of Novás Calvo's short story collection Maneras de contar, with the title of the latter story changed to "Mi tío Antón Luna." "La gripe española," another short story in this collection, was published in the literary journal Papeles de Son Armadans in 1971.

The other manuscripts in this collection address the works of other Cuban-born writers. Novás Calvo's introduction to Luis Ortega's ¡Yo soy el Che! El hombre visto desde adentro, in which he praised the book as the most accurate and impressive work on Che Guevara he had read, was included in the 1970 first edition. "Los cuentos de Lydia Cabrera," a draft of his article on the writings of his friend Lydia Cabrera, was published in the literary journal Exilio in 1969, and his review of Zenaida Gutiérrez Vega's book José Maria Chacón y Calvo, hispanista cubano was submitted to the same journal in November of 1969.

The book included in this collection is the fourth edition of Novás Calvo only novel, El negrero: Vida novelada de Pedro Blanco Fernández de Trava. The historical novel tells the story of a Spanish slave trader and explores the horrendous devastation caused by the transatlantic slave trade.

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Access Restrictions

Please note that the collection is housed off-site, and advance notice is required to allow time to have the materials brought to the Reading Room on campus.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

Syracuse University Archives holds a clipping file on Lino Novás Calvo.

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Selected Search Terms


Novás Calvo, Lino, 1905-1983.
Syracuse University -- History.
Syracuse University.


Authors, Cuban.
Cuban literature -- 20th century.
Short stories.
College teachers.
Higher education.

Types of material

Drafts (documents)
Writings (documents)

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Lino Novás Calvo Papers,
University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated to Syracuse University by Lino Novás Calvo over the years of 1968 to 1970.

Processing Information

Items were placed in acid-free folders and box. Metal paper clips were removed and replaced with chemically inert plastic clips. The pages of some manuscripts were re-arranged into sequential order.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: Sean Molinaro
Date: 2012
Revision history:

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The items are arranged in alphabetical order.

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Box 1 "Los cuentos de Lydia Cabrera" 1969
Box 1 "El esposo invisible" May 1969
Box 1 "La gripe española" June 1970
Box 1 Introduction to Luis Ortega's book ¡Yo soy el Che! El hombre visto desde adentro 1969
Box 1 "Mi tío Antón Calvo" March 1969 - Published as "Mi tío Antón Luna"
Box 1 Review of Zenaida Gutiérrez Vega's book José Maria Chacón y Calvo, hispanista cubano 1969
Box 1 El negrero: Vida novelada de Pedro Blanco Fernández de Trava 1955

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