José Martí (1853-1895) was a Cuban national hero and an important figure in Latin American literary history. In his short life, he was a poet, an essayist, a journalist, a revolutionary philosopher, a translator, a professor, a publisher, and a political theorist. Through his writings and political activity, he became a symbol for Cuba's bid for independence against Spain in the 19th century, and is referred to as the "Apostle of Cuban Independence." His death was used as a cry for Cuban independence from Spain by both the Cuban revolutionaries and those Cubans previously reluctant to start a revolt.

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"A knowledge of different literatures is the best way to free one's self from the tyranny of any of them."