Gonzalo and Shakespeare

The real name of Gonzalo is Manuel Rubén Abimael Guzmán Reynoso. It is indeed a secondary question, but of interest : why did he choose the name of Gonzalo ?

We can maybe think that he gave us a hint. In the famous interview he gave in 1988, he explained the following thing :

« Many times I don’t have time to read what I’d like to. What do I like to read ? I read a lot of biographies. I think that literature is a great form of artistic expression.

For instance, I like to read Shakespeare, yes, and to study him. When you study Shakespeare you find political issues. There are very clear lessons in Julius Caesar for example, and in MacBeth.

I like literature, but politics always wins out with me, and leads me to look for the political significance, what is behind it. After all, behind every great artist there is a political leader, there is a man of his time who is waging class struggle. »

Here, Gonzalo shows his masterful understanding of “thought” as mere reflect of reality. His position, here, is the one of socialist realism; he knew that art is merely a form of expression of the global movement of reality, of class struggle.

And here we see that he spoke of Shakespeare. Let’s take a look at Shakespeare’s work. Do we find a “Gonzalo” ? Yes, we do, and we got a famous one, in the play “The tempest”.

But of course, we have to take a look further, to understand if he took possibly his name from this play. And what do we have? A Gonzalo making a famous political speech – which is conform with the spirit of what Gonzalo spoke of.

In the play, Gonzalo is an adviser to King Alonso of Naples, full of honesty. At a moment, he makes a speech in the spirit of Thomas More and Montaigne.

In fact, the Gonzalo of Shakespeare’s play even directly paraphrases Montaigne’s view of the inhabitants of America, in the in France hugely famous passage “On Cannibals“.

Let’s quote Shakespeare’s play :

GONZALO.My lord Sebastian,The truth you speak doth lack some gentlenessAnd time to speak it in; you rub the sore,When you should bring the plaster.

SEBASTIAN.Very well.

ANTONIO.And most chirurgeonly.

GONZALO.It is foul weather in us all, good sir,When you are cloudy.

SEBASTIAN.Foul weather?

ANTONIO.Very foul.

GONZALO.Had I plantation of this isle, my lord,—

ANTONIO.He’d sow ‘t with nettle-seed.

SEBASTIAN.Or docks, or mallows.

GONZALO.And were the king on’t, what would I do?

SEBASTIAN.‘Scape being drunk for want of wine.

GONZALO.I’ the commonwealth I would by contrariesExecute all things; for no kind of trafficWould I admit; no name of magistrate;Letters should not be known; riches, poverty,And use of service, none; contract, succession,Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none;No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil;No occupation; all men idle, all:And women too, but innocent and pure;No sovereignty,—

SEBASTIAN.Yet he would be king on’t.

ANTONIO.The latter end of his commonwealth forgets the beginning.

GONZALO.All things in common nature should produceWithout sweat or endeavour; treason, felony,Sword, pike, knife, gun, or need of any engine,Would I not have; but nature should bring forth,Of it own kind, all foison, all abundance,To feed my innocent people.

SEBASTIAN.No marrying ‘mong his subjects?

ANTONIO.None, man: all idle; whores and knaves.

GONZALO.I would with such perfection govern, sir,To excel the golden age.

SEBASTIAN.Save his Majesty!

ANTONIO.Long live Gonzalo!

If Abimaël Guzman has chosen Gonzalo because of he play, then he had a great sense of humor, a sense of distance which is great. Gonzalo is a name like a symbol, a symbol of an “utopia” – and in the play the utopia concerns South America, as the words are taken from Montaigne’s words on the inhabitants of the colonized areas.

As Peru is in South America, we may think that Gonzalo’s name is a hint to Shakespeare’s Tempest.

And even if it is not the case, it sounds at least like a revolutionary echo of the revolutionary figure of Abimaël Guzman, Gonzalo, historical leader of the People’s War led by the Communist Party of Peru.

Culture calls culture.

Revolution calls revolution.

And so we do, like in Shakespeare’s Tempest, say « Long live Gonzalo » !

=> documents in English