La Edad de Oro by Jose Martí: The Golden Age by Cuba’s Apostle

A guest post by Dr. C:

“Para los niños es este periódico, y para las niñas, por supuesto. Sin las niñas no se puede vivir, como no puede vivir la tierra sin luz. El niño ha de trabajar, de andar, de estudiar, de ser fuerte, de ser hermoso: el niño puede hacerse hermoso aunque sea feo; un niño bueno, inteligente y aseado es siempre hermoso. Pero nunca es un niño más bello que cuando trae en sus manecitas de hombre fuerte una flor para su amiga, o cuando lleva del brazo a su hermana, para que nadie se la ofenda: el niño crece entonces, y parece un gigante: el niño nace para caballero, y la niña nace para madre. Este periódico se publica para conversar una vez al mes, como buenos amigos, con los caballeros de mañana, y con las madres de mañana; para contarles a las niñas cuentos lindos con que entretener a sus visitas y jugar con sus muñecas; y para decirles a los niños lo que deben saber para ser de veras hombres. Todo lo que quieran saber les vamos a decir, y de modo que lo entiendan bien, con palabras claras y con láminas finas. Les vamos a decir cómo está hecho el mundo: les vamos a contar todo lo que han hecho los hombres hasta ahora.”

Jose Martí wrote a newspaper (an anthology) for boys and for girls in 1889. Of course, girls are included in his target audience he clearly shares. His message included sharing the truth that boys without girls cannot exist, as we cannot live on earth without light. Marti goes on to share that a young boy has to work, to walk, to study, to be strong. He explains that to possess a beautiful character even if you are ugly the previously mentioned actions must be a part of a child’s life.

He continues by stating that a good, intelligent and groomed boy is always handsome. But he is never more handsome than when he brings a flower for a friend that’s a girl in his strong-man hands, or when he takes his sister’s arm, so that no one will offend her. Does Marti think women need men to protect them? 

Marti then explains that with chivalry the boy grows up and begins to look like a great man. Marti is clear about his binary description of life. He writes that a boy is born to be a gentleman, and a girl is born to become a mother. The Edad de Oro was a monthly newspaper published to share Marti’s views on character with the goal that boys would become the gentlemen of tomorrow, and the girls the mothers of the future. Marti wanted the girls to learn about beautiful stories to entertain friends as they played with their dolls. He goes on to share what boys should know to be real men.

La Edad de Oro was one of Jose Marti’s famous writings. The irony is that the current Cuba seems to have hijacked the beauty of Marti’s writing to adapt it to their ways rather than the opposite. How would the world receive Marti’s ideas of men and women today? Would men and women be happier today if Marti’s goal for boys and girls had become a reality?