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May 2016

A Lost Literary Gem Recovered

Professor Sarah Aponte would like to thank Susan Moore, daughter of author Aurelio Moore for personally donating her father’s book to the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Library.

GAL_4414  GAL_4411

Moore M., Aurelio. Sinforiano: símbolo de una época (novela dominicana). Santo Domingo, República Dominicana: Editorial La Nación, 1963.

This is a revised second edition of a social realist novel that was first edited in New York in 1960 during the final days of the Trujillo dictatorship. According to the author, the book was burned and destroyed by the dictatorship and later re-constructed word by word. At 154 pages, the novel follows a straight forward narrative where its main character, Sinforiano, a construction worker, serves as literary device to tell the story of the Dominican people living under an authoritarian regime. This well researched novel has a didactic tone that gravitates between an artfully constructed fictional account of the tyranny and the resulting political resistance of readers to discover. This novel can be categorized as a “novela del dictador” [Dictator Novel] that is part of a larger literary tradition in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Sinforiano covers the period between 1930 and 1962. Throughout the novel, the reader will stumble upon references to well known—and some unheard of—cases of state repression, poor living conditions amongst the population, the 1937 Haitian Massacre, guerilla expeditions from abroad and political plots by revolutionaries who formed part of the internal resistance. All throughout, the novel captures the human suffering and sorrow Dominicans had to endure to win democratic rights and freedom as well as their active participation in the overthrow of the regime.

The novel is unique in many ways because it is not pessimistic and does not portray Dominicans as passive placing them at the center of the struggle against Trujillo. It is a literary gem.

Amaury Rodriguez,

Special Contributor

We are very grateful to Susan Moore for her kind visit and donation.

A rare 19th Century travel narrative in the Dominican Republic


Fabens, Joseph Warren. In the Tropics, by a Settler in Santo Domingo with and Introductory Notice by Richard B. Kimball. New York: G.W. Carleton, 1863. Print.

Prof. Sarah Aponte would like to acknowledge Mr. Luis Canela, a friend of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute since its inception, who kindly donated this first edition of a classic. Thank you to Dr. Ramona Hernández, CUNY DSI Director, for securing this unique donation.

    This travel narrative chronicles the adventures of a New York native who settled in Santo Domingo (1862-1863). The settler’s unsuccessful ventures as a farmer and lawyer in North America lead him to explore the possibility of making Santo Domingo his home. The book narrates his experience interacting with Dominican laborers and land proprietors and portrays the ample class affiliations held by Dominican people, from wealthy land owners to working class farmers.

    Dominicans call the settler el vecino welcoming him with earnest hospitality which he attributes to the Dominican character. The Dominican people tend to glorify the settlers’ agricultural knowledge and tools. For example farmers and their families come from all over the countryside to see the settler transform sour oranges into sweet oranges by transplanting saplings from native farmer Juan’s garden. This transformation becomes a spectacle and is described as a religious miracle. Soon Dominican farmers like Delfino, Juanico, and Juan Garcia are studying under the settler to learn his “American ways.” The settler introduces several agricultural tools like the plough and scythe to Dominican farmers who then purchase these tools for themselves. El vecino’s perception of the Dominican people ranges from glorifying their generosity to criticizing them as “ignorant field-hands [with] ill-trained oxen.”  

    This travel narrative is ideal for students, scholars, and those generally interested with the post-independence settlement of the Dominican Republic. This narrative demonstrates how gender, class, and racial dynamics manifest between Dominican people and North American settlers in the 19th century. It is a close look at the seedlings that will develop into a long standing relationship between the Dominican Republic and the United States.

Sophia Monegro

Research Assistant