Quotes from Before Night Falls – Reinaldo Arenas

“Being a fugitive living in the woods at the time, I had to write before it got dark. Now darkness was approaching again, only more insidiously. It was the dark night of death. I really had to finish my memoirs before nightfall. I took it as a challenge.” – xii

“I used to climb trees, and everything seemed much more beautiful from up there. I could embrace the world in completeness and feel a harmony that I could not experience down below…Trees have a secret life that is only revealed to those willing to climb them. To climb a tree is to slowly discover a unique world, rhythmic, magical and harmonious, with its worms, insects, birds, and other living things, all apparently insignificant creatures, telling us their secrets.” – 5-6

“In those days I had a different idea about sexual relations; I loved someone and I wanted that person to love me; I did not believe that one had to search, unceasingly, to find in other bodies what one body had already provided.” – 64

“The gay world is not monogamous. Almost by nature, by instinct, the tendency is to spread out to multiple relationships, quite often to promiscuity. It was normal for me not to understand this at the time; I had just lost my lover and felt completely disillusioned.” – 64=65

“We would all bring our notebooks and write poems or chapters of our books, and would have sex with armies of young men. The erotic and literary went hand in hand.” – 101

“The ideal in any sexual relationship is finding one’s opposite, and therefore the homosexual world is now something sinister and desolate; we almost never get what we most desire.” – 108

“The sea was like a feast and forced us to be happy, even when we did not particularly want to be. Perhaps subconsciously we loved the sea as a way to escape from the land where we were repressed; perhaps in floating on the waves we escaped our cursed insularity.” – 114

“Her death was perhaps an act of affirmation. There are times when living means to degrade yourself, to make compromises, to be bored to death.” – 135

“It sounded like a unanimous roar. Ever since my childhood, noise has always been inflicted upon me; all my writing has been done against the background of other people’s noise. I think Cubans are defined by noise; it seems to be inherent in their nature, and also part of their exhibitionism.” – 178

“I told him he was a writer even if he never wrote a single page, and that gave him some comfort.” – 256

“In exile one is nothing but a ghost, the shadow of someone who never achieves full reality. I ceased to exist when I went into exile; I started to run away from myself.” – 303

“To discover a city is in itself a unique event, but when we have the privilege of sharing it with friends most dear to us, it becomes a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” – 304

“This man was not a professor in the conventional sense of the word; he was a great reader, and possessed the magical ability to instill the love of beauty in his students. He was the only Spanish-American professor in the United States who inspired a school of critical thought.” – 305-306

“Dreams and nightmares have been an important part of my life. I always went to bed like someone getting ready for a long trip: books, pills, glasses of water, clocks, a light, pencils, notebooks.” – 311


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