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Octavio Paz

Octavio Paz

Overview
Octavio Paz Lozano was a Mexican writer, poet, and diplomat
Diplomacy
Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states...

, and the winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Paz was born to Octavio Paz Solórzano and Josefina Lozano. His father was an active supporter of the Revolution against the Díaz regime. Paz was raised in the village of Mixcoac (now a part of Mexico City) by his mother Josefina (daughter of Spanish immigrants), his aunt Amalia Paz, and his paternal grandfather Ireneo Paz
Ireneo Paz
Ireneo Paz Flores was a prominent Mexican intellectual, writer and journalist who was also the grandfather of the Nobel Prize-winning Mexican writer Octavio Paz. He was born July, 3, 1836 in Guadalajara, Mexico. In 1861 upon completion of his college studies, he was licensed to practice law. He...

, a liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 intellectual, novelist, publisher and former supporter of President Porfirio Díaz
Porfirio Díaz
José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori was a Mexican-American War volunteer and French intervention hero, an accomplished general and the President of Mexico continuously from 1876 to 1911, with the exception of a brief term in 1876 when he left Juan N...

.
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Quotations

Man does not speak because he thinks; he thinks because he speaks. Or rather, speaking is no different than thinking: to speak is to think.

André Breton or the Quest of the Beginning

If we are a metaphor of the universe, the human couple is the metaphor par excellence, the point of intersection of all forces and the seed of all forms. The couple is time recaptured, the return to the time before time.

André Breton or the Quest of the Beginning

"Art" is an invention of aesthetics, which in turn is an invention of philosophers…what we call art is a game.

To read a poem is to hear it with our eyes; to hear it is to see it with our ears.

Modern man likes to pretend that his thinking is wide-awake. But this wide-awake thinking has led us into the mazes of a nightmare in which the torture chambers are endlessly repeated in the mirrors of reason.

Solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition. Man is the only being who knows he is alone.

To the people of New York, Paris, or London, "death" is a word that is never pronounced because it burns the lips. The Mexican, however, frequents it, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it; it is one of his favorite toys and most steadfast love. Of course, in his attitude perhaps there is as much fear as there is in one of the others; at least he does not hide it; he confronts it face to face with patience, disdain, or irony.

Encyclopedia
Octavio Paz Lozano was a Mexican writer, poet, and diplomat
Diplomacy
Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states...

, and the winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Early life and writings


Paz was born to Octavio Paz Solórzano and Josefina Lozano. His father was an active supporter of the Revolution against the Díaz regime. Paz was raised in the village of Mixcoac (now a part of Mexico City) by his mother Josefina (daughter of Spanish immigrants), his aunt Amalia Paz, and his paternal grandfather Ireneo Paz
Ireneo Paz
Ireneo Paz Flores was a prominent Mexican intellectual, writer and journalist who was also the grandfather of the Nobel Prize-winning Mexican writer Octavio Paz. He was born July, 3, 1836 in Guadalajara, Mexico. In 1861 upon completion of his college studies, he was licensed to practice law. He...

, a liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 intellectual, novelist, publisher and former supporter of President Porfirio Díaz
Porfirio Díaz
José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori was a Mexican-American War volunteer and French intervention hero, an accomplished general and the President of Mexico continuously from 1876 to 1911, with the exception of a brief term in 1876 when he left Juan N...

. He studied at Colegio Williams
Colegio Williams
Colegio Williams is a private school in south-central Mexico City. It is located in the Benito Juárez borough, in the area of Mixcoac. It was founded in 1899 by British educator and traveler Camilo John Williams, in the area of Tacubaya . It was at first an all-day school, including a boarding house...

. Because of his family's public support of Emiliano Zapata
Emiliano Zapata
Emiliano Zapata Salazar was a leading figure in the Mexican Revolution, which broke out in 1910, and which was initially directed against the president Porfirio Díaz. He formed and commanded an important revolutionary force, the Liberation Army of the South, during the Mexican Revolution...

, they were forced into exile after Zapata's assassination. They served their exile in the United States.

Paz was introduced to literature early in his life through the influence of his grandfather's library, filled with classic Mexican and European literature. During the 1920s, he discovered the European poets Gerardo Diego
Gerardo Diego
Gerardo Diego Cendoya was a Spanish poet, a member of the Generation of '27.Gerardo Diego taught language and literature at institutes of learning in Soria, Gijón, Santander and Madrid...

, Juan Ramón Jiménez
Juan Ramón Jiménez
Juan Ramón Jiménez Mantecón was a Spanish poet, a prolific writer who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1956. One of Jiménez's most important contributions to modern poetry was his advocacy of the French concept of "pure poetry."-Biography:Jiménez was born in Moguer, near Huelva, in...

, and Antonio Machado
Antonio Machado
Antonio Cipriano José María y Francisco de Santa Ana Machado y Ruiz, known as Antonio Machado was a Spanish poet and one of the leading figures of the Spanish literary movement known as the Generation of '98....

, Spanish writers who had a great influence on his early writings. As a teenager in 1931, under the influence of D. H. Lawrence
D. H. Lawrence
David Herbert Richards Lawrence was an English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, literary critic and painter who published as D. H. Lawrence. His collected works represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanising effects of modernity and industrialisation...

, Paz published his first poems, including "Cabellera". Two years later, at the age of 19, he published Luna Silvestre ("Wild Moon"), a collection of poems. In 1932, with some friends, he founded his first literary review, Barandal. By 1939, Paz considered himself first and foremost a poet.

In 1935, Paz abandoned his law studies and left for Yucatán
Yucatán
Yucatán officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Yucatán is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 106 municipalities and its capital city is Mérida....

 to work at a school in Mérida
Mérida, Yucatán
Mérida is the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Yucatán and the Yucatán Peninsula. It is located in the northwest part of the state, about from the Gulf of Mexico coast...

 for sons of peasants and workers. There, he began working on the first of his long, ambitious poems, "Entre la piedra y la flor" ("Between the Stone and the Flower") (1941, revised in 1976), influenced by T. S. Eliot
T. S. Eliot
Thomas Stearns "T. S." Eliot OM was a playwright, literary critic, and arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century. Although he was born an American he moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 and was naturalised as a British subject in 1927 at age 39.The poem that made his...

, which describes the situation of the Mexican peasant under the greedy landlords of the day.

In 1937, Paz was invited to the Second International Writers Congress in Defense of Culture in Spain during the country's civil war
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

, showing his solidarity with the Republican side and against fascism
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

. Upon his return to Mexico, Paz co-founded a literary journal, Taller ("Workshop") in 1938, and wrote for the magazine until 1941. In 1938 he also met and married Elena Garro
Elena Garro
Elena Garro was a Mexican writer. She was once married to writer Octavio Paz.-Biography:Elena Garro was born to a Spanish father and a Mexican mother on December 11, 1916 in Puebla, Mexico. She spent her childhood in Mexico City but moved to Iguala, Guerrero, during the Cristero War...

, now considered one of Mexico's finest writers. They had one daughter, Helena. They were divorced in 1959. In 1943, Paz received a Guggenheim fellowship
Guggenheim Fellowship
Guggenheim Fellowships are American grants that have been awarded annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those "who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts." Each year, the foundation makes...

 and began studying at the University of California at Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...

 in the United States, and two years later he entered the Mexican diplomatic service, working in New York for a while. In 1945, he was sent to Paris, where he wrote El Laberinto de la Soledad
The Labyrinth of Solitude
The Labyrinth of Solitude , one of Octavio Paz’s most famous works, is a collection of nine essays: ‘The Pachuco and other extremes’, ‘Mexican Mask’, ‘The Day of the Dead’, ‘The Sons of La Malinche’, ‘The Conquest and Colonialism’, ‘From Independence to the Revolution’, ‘The Mexican Intelligence’,...

("The Labyrinth of Solitude"), a groundbreaking study of Mexican identity and thought. In 1952, he travelled to India for the first time and, in the same year, to Tokyo, as chargé d'affaires
Chargé d'affaires
In diplomacy, chargé d’affaires , often shortened to simply chargé, is the title of two classes of diplomatic agents who head a diplomatic mission, either on a temporary basis or when no more senior diplomat has been accredited.-Chargés d’affaires:Chargés d’affaires , who were...

, and then to Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

, in Switzerland. He returned to Mexico City in 1954, where he wrote his great poem "Piedra de sol" ("Sunstone") in 1957 and Libertad bajo palabra (Liberty under Oath), a compilation of his poetry up to that time. He was sent again to Paris in 1959, following the steps of his lover, the Italian painter Bona Tibertelli de Pisis. In 1962 he was named Mexico's ambassador to India.

Later life


In India, Paz completed several works, including El mono gramático (The Monkey Grammarian) and Ladera este (Eastern Slope).
While in India, he came into contact with a group of writers called the Hungry Generation
Hungry generation
The Hungry Generation was a literary movement in the Bengali language launched by what is known today as the Hungryalist quartet i.e. Shakti Chattopadhyay, Malay Roy Choudhury, Samir Roychoudhury and Debi Roy alias Haradhon Dhara, during the 1960s in Kolkata, India...

 and had a profound influence on them.
In 1963 he broke up with Bona and married Marie-José Tramini, a French woman who would be his wife for the rest of his life. In October 1968, he resigned from the diplomatic corps in protest of the Mexican government's massacre of student demonstrators
Tlatelolco massacre
The Tlatelolco massacre, also known as The Night of Tlatelolco , was a government massacre of student and civilian protesters and bystanders that took place during the afternoon and night of October 2, 1968, in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in the Tlatelolco section of Mexico City...

 in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas
Plaza de las Tres Culturas
The Plaza de las Tres Culturas is the main square within the Tlatelolco neighbourhood of Mexico City. The name "Three Cultures" is in recognition of the three periods of Mexican history reflected by those buildings pre-Columbian, Spanish colonial, and the independent "mestizo" nation...

 in Tlatelolco
Tlatelolco (Mexico City)
Tlatelolco is an area in the Cuauhtémoc borough of Mexico City, centered on the Plaza de las Tres Culturas, a square surrounded on three sides by an excavated Aztec archaeological site, a 17th century church called Templo de Santiago, a former convent, and office complexes that used to belong to...

. He sought refuge in Paris for a while and returned to Mexico in 1969, where he founded his magazine Plural (1970–1976) with a group of liberal Mexican and Latin American writers. From 1970 to 1974 he lectured at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

, where he held the Charles Eliot Norton professorship
Charles Eliot Norton Lectures
The Charles Eliot Norton Professorship of Poetry at Harvard University was established in 1925 as an annual lectureship in "poetry in the broadest sense" and named for the university's former professor of fine arts. Distinguished creative figures and scholars in the arts, including painting,...

. His book Los hijos del limo ("Children of the Mire") was the result of those lectures.
After the Mexican government closed Plural in 1975, Paz founded Vuelta
Vuelta (magazine)
Vuelta was a Mexican literary magazine, founded by poet Octavio Paz in 1976 following the controversial dismantling of the workers' cooperative that ran the daily newspaper Excélsior. It ceased publication following Paz's death in 1998....

, a publication with a focus similar to that of Plural, and he continued to edit that magazine until his death. He won the 1977 Jerusalem Prize
Jerusalem Prize
The Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society is a biennial literary award given to writers whose works have dealt with themes of human freedom in society. It is awarded at the Jerusalem International Book Fair, and the recipient usually delivers an address when accepting the award...

 for literature on the theme of individual freedom. In 1980 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Harvard, and in 1982 he won the Neustadt Prize. A collection of his poems (written between 1957 and 1987) was published in 1990. In 1990, he was awarded the Nobel Prize. In India he met the Hungryalist poets and was of immense help to them during their 35 month long trial.

Octavio Paz died of cancer in 1998.

Guillermo Sheridan
Guillermo Sheridan
Guillermo Sheridan is a Mexican scholar and writer born in Mexico City. As a scholar, most of his writing deals with the history of Mexican modern poetry in books like Los Contemporáneos ayer , Un corazón adicto , México en 1932 , Poeta con Paisaje Guillermo Sheridan (August 27, 1950) is a Mexican...

, who was named by Paz as director of the Octavio Paz Foundation in 1998, published a book, Poeta con paisaje (2004) with several biographical essays about the poet's life up to 1968.

Writings


A prolific author and poet, Paz published scores of works during his lifetime, many of which are translated into other languages. His poetry, for example, has been translated into English by Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett
Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet. He wrote both in English and French. His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour.Beckett is widely regarded as among the most...

, Charles Tomlinson
Charles Tomlinson
Alfred Charles Tomlinson, CBE is a British poet and translator, and also an academic and artist. He was born and raised in Penkhull in the city of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.-Life:...

, Elizabeth Bishop
Elizabeth Bishop
Elizabeth Bishop was an American poet and short-story writer. She was the Poet Laureate of the United States from 1949 to 1950, a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1956 and a National Book Award Winner for Poetry in 1970. Elizabeth Bishop House is an artists' retreat in Great Village, Nova Scotia...

, Muriel Rukeyser
Muriel Rukeyser
Muriel Rukeyser was an American poet and political activist, best known for her poems about equality, feminism, social justice, and Judaism...

 and Mark Strand
Mark Strand
Mark Strand is an American poet, essayist, and translator. He was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1990. Since 2005, he has been a professor of English at Columbia University.- Biography :...

. His early poetry was influenced by Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

, surrealism
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

, and existentialism
Existentialism
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

, as well as religions such as Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 and Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

. His poem, "Piedra de sol" ("Sunstone"), written in 1957, was praised as a "magnificent" example of surrealist poetry in the presentation speech of his Nobel Prize. His later poetry dealt with love and eroticism, the nature of time, and Buddhism. He also wrote poetry about his other passion, modern painting, dedicating poems to the work of Balthus
Balthus
Balthasar Klossowski de Rola , best known as Balthus, was an esteemed but controversial Polish-French modern artist....

, Joan Miró
Joan Miró
Joan Miró i Ferrà was a Spanish Catalan painter, sculptor, and ceramicist born in Barcelona.Earning international acclaim, his work has been interpreted as Surrealism, a sandbox for the subconscious mind, a re-creation of the childlike, and a manifestation of Catalan pride...

, Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp was a French artist whose work is most often associated with the Dadaist and Surrealist movements. Considered by some to be one of the most important artists of the 20th century, Duchamp's output influenced the development of post-World War I Western art...

, Antoni Tàpies
Antoni Tàpies
Antoni Tàpies i Puig, 1st Marquess of Tàpies is a Catalan painter. He is one of the most famous European artists of his generation. After studying law for 3 years, he devoted himself from 1943 onwards only to his painting...

, Robert Rauschenberg
Robert Rauschenberg
Robert Rauschenberg was an American artist who came to prominence in the 1950s transition from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art. Rauschenberg is well-known for his "Combines" of the 1950s, in which non-traditional materials and objects were employed in innovative combinations...

, and Roberto Matta
Roberto Matta
Roberto Sebastián Antonio Matta Echaurren , better known as Roberto Matta, was one of Chile's best-known painters and a seminal figure in 20th century abstract expressionist and surrealist art....

.
As an essayist Paz wrote on topics like Mexican politics
Politics of Mexico
The politics of Mexico take place in a framework of a federal presidential representative democratic republic whose government is based on a congressional system, whereby the president of Mexico is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system...

 and economics
Economy of Mexico
The economy of Mexico is the 13th largest in the world in nominal terms and the 11th by purchasing power parity, according to the World Bank.Since the 1994 crisis, administrations have improved the country's macroeconomic fundamentals...

, Aztec art
Pre-Columbian art
Pre-Columbian art is the visual arts of indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, North, Central, and South Americas until the late 15th and early 16th centuries, and the time period marked by Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas....

, anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, and sexuality
Human sexuality
Human sexuality is the awareness of gender differences, and the capacity to have erotic experiences and responses. Human sexuality can also be described as the way someone is sexually attracted to another person whether it is to opposite sexes , to the same sex , to either sexes , or not being...

. His book-length essay, The Labyrinth of Solitude
The Labyrinth of Solitude
The Labyrinth of Solitude , one of Octavio Paz’s most famous works, is a collection of nine essays: ‘The Pachuco and other extremes’, ‘Mexican Mask’, ‘The Day of the Dead’, ‘The Sons of La Malinche’, ‘The Conquest and Colonialism’, ‘From Independence to the Revolution’, ‘The Mexican Intelligence’,...

(Spanish: El laberinto de la soledad), delves into the minds of his countrymen, describing them as hidden behind masks of solitude. Due to their history
History of Mexico
The history of Mexico, a country located in the southern portion of North America, covers a period of more than two millennia. First populated more than 13,000 years ago, the country produced complex indigenous civilizations before being conquered by the Spanish in the 16th Century.Since the...

, their identity is lost between a pre-Columbian and a Spanish culture, negating either. A key work in understanding Mexican culture
Culture of Mexico
Mexico has changed rapidly during the 20th century. In many ways, contemporary life in its cities has become similar to that in neighboring United States and Europe. Most Mexican villagers follow the older way of life more than the city people do. More than 45% of the people of Mexico live in...

, it greatly influenced other Mexican writers, such as Carlos Fuentes
Carlos Fuentes
Carlos Fuentes Macías is a Mexican writer and one of the best-known living novelists and essayists in the Spanish-speaking world. He has influenced contemporary Latin American literature, and his works have been widely translated into English and other languages.-Biography:Fuentes was born in...

. Ilan Stavans wrote that he was "the quintessential surveyor, a Dante's Virgil, a Renaissance man".

Paz wrote the play "La hija de Rappaccini" in 1956. The plot centers around a young Italian student who wanders about Professor Rappaccini's beautiful gardens where he spies the professor's even more beautiful daughter, Beatrice. He is horrified when he discovers the poisonous nature of the garden's beauty. Paz adapted the play from a 1844 short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American novelist and short story writer.Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in 1804 in the city of Salem, Massachusetts to Nathaniel Hathorne and the former Elizabeth Clarke Manning. His ancestors include John Hathorne, a judge during the Salem Witch Trials...

 that was also entitled "Rappaccini's Daughter
Rappaccini's Daughter
"Rappaccini's Daughter" is a short story written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1844 concerning a medical researcher in medieval Padua. It was published in the collection Mosses from an Old Manse.-Plot summary:...

".
He combined Hawthorne's story with sources from the Indian poet Vishakadatta and influences from Japanese Noh
Noh
, or - derived from the Sino-Japanese word for "skill" or "talent" - is a major form of classical Japanese musical drama that has been performed since the 14th century. Many characters are masked, with men playing male and female roles. Traditionally, a Noh "performance day" lasts all day and...

 theatre, Spanish autos sacramentales
Autos sacramentales
Autos sacramentales are a form of dramatic literature which is peculiar to Spain, though in some respects similar in character to the old Morality plays of England.The auto sacramental may be defined as a dramatic representation of the mystery of the Eucharist...

and the poetry of William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and playwright, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms...

. The play's opening performance was designed by the Mexican painter Leonora Carrington
Leonora Carrington
Leonora Carrington OBE was a British-born Mexican artist, a surrealist painter and a novelist. She lived most of her life in Mexico City.-Early life:...

. First performed in English in 1996 at the Gate Theatre
Gate Theatre
The Gate Theatre, in Dublin, was founded in 1928 by Hilton Edwards and Micheál Mac Liammóir, initially using the Abbey Theatre's Peacock studio theatre space to stage important works by European and American dramatists...

 in London, the play was translated and directed by Sebastian Doggart
Sebastian Doggart
Sebastian Doggart is an English and American producer, director, writer, translator, cinematographer and human rights activist.-Education:...

 and starred Sarah Alexander
Sarah Alexander
Sarah Alexander is an English actress, known for her roles in various British comedy series such as Armstrong and Miller, Smack the Pony, Coupling, The Worst Week of My Life and Green Wing....

 as Beatrice. In 1972, Surrealist author André Pieyre de Mandiargues
André Pieyre de Mandiargues
André Pieyre de Mandiargues was a French writer born in Paris. He became an associate of the Surrealists and married the Italian painter Bona Tibertelli de Pisis...

 translated the play into French as La fille de Rappaccini (Editions Mercure de France). Mexican composer Daniel Catán turned the play into an opera in 1992.

Paz's other works translated into English include several volumes of essays, some of the more prominent of which are Alternating Current (tr. 1973), Configurations (tr. 1971), The Labyrinth of Solitude
The Labyrinth of Solitude
The Labyrinth of Solitude , one of Octavio Paz’s most famous works, is a collection of nine essays: ‘The Pachuco and other extremes’, ‘Mexican Mask’, ‘The Day of the Dead’, ‘The Sons of La Malinche’, ‘The Conquest and Colonialism’, ‘From Independence to the Revolution’, ‘The Mexican Intelligence’,...

(tr. 1963), The Other Mexico (tr. 1972); and El Arco y la Lira (1956; tr. The Bow and the Lyre, 1973). Along with these are volumes of critical studies and biographies, including Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss was a French anthropologist and ethnologist, and has been called, along with James George Frazer, the "father of modern anthropology"....

 and Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp was a French artist whose work is most often associated with the Dadaist and Surrealist movements. Considered by some to be one of the most important artists of the 20th century, Duchamp's output influenced the development of post-World War I Western art...

 (both, tr. 1970), and The Traps of Faith, an analytical biography of the Mexican 16th-century nun, feminist poet, mathematician, and thinker Sor Juana de la Cruz.

His works include the poetry collections ¿Águila o sol? (1951), La Estación Violenta, (1956), Piedra de Sol (1957), and in English translation the most prominent include two volumes which include most of Paz in English: Early Poems: 1935–1955 (tr. 1974), and Collected Poems, 1957–1987 (1987). Many of these volumes have been edited and translated by Eliot Weinberger
Eliot Weinberger
Eliot Weinberger is a contemporary American writer, essayist, editor, and translator. His work regularly appears in translation and has been published in some thirty languages...

, who is Paz's principal translator into American English.

Political thought


Originally Paz showed his solidarity with the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

, but after learning of the murder of one of his comrades by the Republicans themselves he became gradually disillusioned. While in Paris in the early 1950s, influenced by David Rousset
David Rousset
David Rousset was a French writer and political activist, a recipient of Prix Renaudot, a French literary award....

, André Breton
André Breton
André Breton was a French writer and poet. He is known best as the founder of Surrealism. His writings include the first Surrealist Manifesto of 1924, in which he defined surrealism as "pure psychic automatism"....

 and Albert Camus
Albert Camus
Albert Camus was a French author, journalist, and key philosopher of the 20th century. In 1949, Camus founded the Group for International Liaisons within the Revolutionary Union Movement, which was opposed to some tendencies of the Surrealist movement of André Breton.Camus was awarded the 1957...

, he started publishing his critical views on totalitarianism in general, and against Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 in particular.

In his magazines Plural and Vuelta, he exposed the violations of human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 in the communist regimes, including Castro's
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

 Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

. This brought him much animosity from sectors of the Latin American left. In the prologue to Volume IX of his complete works, Paz stated that from the time when he abandoned communist dogma, the mistrust of many in the Mexican intelligentsia
Intelligentsia
The intelligentsia is a social class of people engaged in complex, mental and creative labor directed to the development and dissemination of culture, encompassing intellectuals and social groups close to them...

 started to transform into an intense and open enmity. Nonetheless, Paz always considered himself a man of the left; the democratic, "liberal" left, not the dogmatic and illiberal one.
There can be no society without poetry, but society can never be realized as poetry, it is never poetic. Sometimes the two terms seek to break apart. They cannot.
Octavio Paz


In 1990, during the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin wall, Paz and his Vuelta colleagues invited several of the world's writers and intellectuals to Mexico City to discuss the collapse of communism, including Czesław Miłosz, Hugh Thomas
Hugh Thomas
Hugh Thomas , is a British historian and life peer.Hugh Thomas may also refer to:* Hugh Thomas , American choral conductor, pianist and educator* Hugh Thomas , Australian rules football coach...

, Daniel Bell
Daniel Bell
Daniel Bell was an American sociologist, writer, editor, and professor emeritus at Harvard University, best known for his seminal contributions to the study of post-industrialism...

, Ágnes Heller
Ágnes Heller
Ágnes Heller is a Hungarian philosopher. A prominent Marxist thinker at first, she moved onto a liberal, social-democratic position later in her career...

, Cornelius Castoriadis
Cornelius Castoriadis
Cornelius Castoriadis was a Greek philosopher, social critic, economist, psychoanalyst, author of The Imaginary Institution of Society, and co-founder of the Socialisme ou Barbarie group.-Early life in Athens:...

, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Jean-François Revel
Jean-François Revel
Jean-François Revel was a French politician, journalist, author, prolific philosopher and member of the Académie française from June 1998...

, Michael Ignatieff
Michael Ignatieff
Michael Grant Ignatieff is a Canadian author, academic and former politician. He was the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and Leader of the Official Opposition from 2008 until 2011...

, Mario Vargas Llosa
Mario Vargas Llosa
Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa, 1st Marquis of Vargas Llosa is a Peruvian-Spanish writer, politician, journalist, essayist, and Nobel Prize laureate. Vargas Llosa is one of Latin America's most significant novelists and essayists, and one of the leading authors of his generation...

, Jorge Edwards
Jorge Edwards
Jorge Edwards Valdés is a Chilean novelist, journalist and diplomat. He is currently the Chilean ambassador to France.-Life and career:...

 and Carlos Franqui
Carlos Franqui
Carlos Franqui was a Cuban writer, poet, journalist, art critic, and political activist. After the Fulgencio Batista coup in 1952, he became involved with the "Movimiento 26 de Julio" which was directed by Fidel Castro. Upon the success of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, he was placed in charge of...

. The Vuelta encounter was broadcast on Mexican television from 27 August to 2 September.

Octavio Paz has been critical of most aspects of the Zapatista uprising. He spoke broadly in favor of a "military solution" to the uprising of January 1994, and hoped that the "army would soon restore order in the region". With respect to President Zedillo's offensive in February 1995, he signed an open letter that described the offensive as a "legitimate government action" to reestablish the "sovereignty of the nation" and to bring "Chiapas peace and Mexicans tranquility"

Further reading


English
  • Octavio Paz and Pablo Neruda: Clash of Literary Titans/Americas Magazine (Organization of American States), July, 2008/Jaime Perales Contreras
  • Mexican Writers on Writing featuring Octavio Paz. Edited by Margaret Sayers Peden
    Margaret Sayers Peden
    Margaret Sayers Peden is an American translator and Professor, being a Missouri native and born in about 1920.-Career and Achievements:She returned to college to obtain her graduate degrees in later life...

     (Trinity University Press, 2007).
  • The writing in the stars : a jungian reading of the poetry of Octavio Paz / Rodney Williamson., 2007
  • Octavio Paz / Nick Caistor., 2006
  • The philosophy of yoga
    Yoga
    Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

     in Octavio Paz's poem Blanco / Richard J Callan., 2005
  • "The Sadean Poetics of Solitude in Paz and Pizarnik." Latin American Literary Review / Rolando Pérez., 2005
  • Shipwreck and deliverance : politics, culture and modernity in the works of Octavio Paz / Todd Lutes., 2003
  • Poetry criticism (Gale Group): volume 48 / David Galens., 2003
  • Octavio Paz (Modern Critical Views) / Harold Bloom
    Harold Bloom
    Harold Bloom is an American writer and literary critic, and is Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University. He is known for his defense of 19th-century Romantic poets, his unique and controversial theories of poetic influence, and his prodigious literary output, particularly for a literary...

    , 2002
  • From Art to Politics: Octavio Paz and the Pursuit of Freedom (trans. Del arte à la politica, FCE, 2004) / Grenier, Yvon, 2001
  • Octavio Paz: A Meditation / Stavans,Ilan
    Ilan Stavans
    Ilan Stavans is a Mexican-American, essayist, lexicographer, cultural commentator, translator, short-story author, TV personality, and teacher known for his insights into American, Hispanic, and Jewish cultures.- Life :Ilan Stavans was born in Mexico to a middle-class Jewish family from the Pale...

    ., 2001
  • Tribute to Octavio Paz / Mexican Cultural Institute of New York., 2001
  • Understanding Octavio Paz / Quiroga, Jose., 1999
  • The critical poem: Borges, Paz, and other language-centered poets in Latin America / Running, Thorpe., 1996
  • Octavio Paz and the language of poetry: a psycholinguistic approach / Underwood, Leticia Iliana., 1992
  • Orientalism in the Hispanic literary tradition: in dialogue with Borges, Paz, and Sarduy / Kushigian, Julia., 1991
  • Octavio Paz, the mythic dimension / Chiles, Frances., 1987
  • Toward Octavio Paz: a reading of his major poems, 1957–1976 / Fein, John M., 1986
  • Octavio Paz (Twayne's World Authors Series) / Wilson, Jason., 1986
  • Two essays on Latin American political myths : Octavio Paz and Che Guevara
    Che Guevara
    Ernesto "Che" Guevara , commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist...

     / James Wallace Wilkie., 1981
  • Octavio Paz, homage to the poet / Chantikian, Kosrof., 1980
  • Octavio Paz, a study of his poetics / Wilson, Jason., 1979
  • Aspects of surrealism in the work of Octavio Paz / José Gabriel Sánchez., 1976
  • Octavio Paz: critic of modern Mexican poetry / Phillips, Allen Whitmarsh., 1973
  • The universalism of Octavio Paz / Gullón, Ricardo., 1973
  • Octavio Paz : or the revolution in search of an actor / George Gordon Wing., 1973
  • The perpetual present; the poetry and prose of Octavio Paz / Ivar Ivask., 1973
  • The poetic modes of Octavio Paz / Rachel Phillips., 1972
  • Mexico as theme, image, and contribution to myth in the poetry of Octavio Paz / Judith Ann Bernard., 1964
  • Octavio Paz poetry, politics, and the myth of the Mexican / George Gordon Wing., 1961


Spanish
  • Luz espejeante. Octavio Paz ante la crítica. Selección de Enrico Mario Santí. 2009
  • Andar fronteras. El servicio diplomático de Octavio Paz en Francia (1946–1951) / Froylan Enciso., 2008
  • Boletin Octavio Paz / Luis Rios. 2008-
    • Consuelo Hernández
      Consuelo Hernández
      Consuelo Hernández is a Colombian /U.S. poet, scholar, literary critic and Associate Professor of Latin American studies at American University since 1995....

      ."Octavio Paz. La poesía como supremo ejercicio de la libertad. Voces y perspectivas en la poesía latinoamericana del siglo XX. Madrid: Visor, 2009.
  • Consuelo Hernández
    Consuelo Hernández
    Consuelo Hernández is a Colombian /U.S. poet, scholar, literary critic and Associate Professor of Latin American studies at American University since 1995....

    ."Signos en rotación, una teoría poética." El Nacional. Caracas, Venezuela. October 2, l982. C.2.
  • Consuelo Hernández
    Consuelo Hernández
    Consuelo Hernández is a Colombian /U.S. poet, scholar, literary critic and Associate Professor of Latin American studies at American University since 1995....

    .El arte combinatoria en los poemas de Octavio Paz." El Nacional. Caracas, Venezuela. September 25. C.2.
  • El filo del ideal: Octavio Paz en la Guerra Civil / Guillermo Sheridan., 2008
  • Octavio Paz y Pablo Neruda: Historia de una amistad/Revista Americas.Organizacion de los Estados Americanos., julio 2008/Jaime Perales Contreras.
  • Octavio Paz y el circulo de la revista Vuelta/Jaime Perales Contreras., 2007
  • Introduction to Octavio Paz, Suenos en libertad, escritos políticos / edited by Yvon Grenier., 2001
  • Poeta con paisaje: ensayos sobre la vida de Octavio Paz / Guillermo Sheridan., 2004
  • Octavio Paz : la dimensión estética del ensayo / Héctor Jaimes., 2004
  • Espiral de luz : tiempo y amor en Piedra de sol de Octavio Paz / Dante Salgado., 2003
  • Octavio Paz y la poética de la historia mexicana / D A Brading., 2002
  • Camino de ecos : introducción a las ideas políticas de Octavio Paz / Dante Salgado., 2002
  • Octavio Paz: una visión de la poesía de occidente : hermenéutica y horizonte simbólico / Marta Santibáñez., 2002
  • Las primeras voces del poeta Octavio Paz, 1931–1938 / Anthony Stanton., 2001
  • El árbol milenario : un recorrido por la obra de Octavio Paz / Manuel Ulacia., 1999
  • Author, autoridad y autorización : escritura y poética de Octavio Paz / Rubén Medina., 1999
  • Tránsito poético e intellectual de Octavio Paz / Abelardo M García Viera., 1999
  • Dos grandes latinoamericanos / Karla I Herrera., 1999
  • Bibliografia critica de Octavio Paz / Hugo J. Verani, 1997
  • El acto de las palabras : estudios y diálogos con Octavio Paz / Enrico Mario Santí., 1997
  • Volver al ser : un acercamiento a la poética de Octavio Paz / Mario Pinho., 1997
  • Octavio Paz : viajero del presente / Roberto Hozven., 1994
  • Octavio Paz en sus "Obras completas" / Adolfo Castañón., 1994
  • Festejo : 80 años de Octavio Paz / Adolfo Castañón., 1994
  • Octavio Paz : poética e identidad / Fidel Sepúlveda Llanos., 1993
  • Octavio Paz : el espejo roto / Roland Forgues., 1992
  • Lo desconocido es entrañable : arte y vida en Octavio Paz / Rafael Jiménez Cataño., 2008
  • Octavio Paz : trayectorias y visiones / Maya Schärer-Nussberger., 1989
  • El elemento oriental en la poesía de Octavio Paz / Jung Kim Kwon Tae., 1989
  • El cuerpo y la letra : la cosmologia poetica de Octavio Paz / Javier Gonzalez., 1988
  • Polaridad-unidad, caminos hacia Octavio Paz / Margarita Murillo González., 1987
  • La cabeza rota : la poética de Octavio Paz / Jorge Arturo Ojeda., 1983
  • Octavio Paz / Pere Gimferrer., 1982
  • Surrealismo en la poesía de Xavier Villaurrutia
    Xavier Villaurrutia
    Xavier Villaurrutia y González was a Mexican poet and playwright, whose most famous works are the short theatrical dramas, called Autos profanos, compiled in the work Poesía y teatro completos published in 1953....

    , Octavio Paz, y Luis Cernuda
    Luis Cernuda
    Luis Cernuda , was a Spanish poet and literary critic.-Life and career:...

    . (México 1926–1963)
    / Olivia Maciel Edelman., 2008
  • Lecturas de Octavio Paz / Pere Gimferrer., 1980
  • Variables poéticas de Octavio Paz / Diego Martínez Torrón., 1979
  • Octavio Paz / Alfredo A Roggiano., 1979
  • Reinvención de la palabra : la obra poética de Octavio Paz / Eusebio Rojas Guzmán., 1979
  • La poesía hermética de Octavio Paz / Carlos Horacio Magis., 1978
  • Poesía y conocimiento : Borges, Lezama Lima, Octavio Paz / Ramón Xirau., 1978
  • La divina pareja: historia y mito: valoración e interpretación de la obra ensayística de Octavio Paz / Jorge Mora., 1978
  • Octavio Paz, poesía y poética / Monique J Lemaître., 1976
  • Las estaciones poéticas de Octavio Paz / Rachel Phillips., 1976
  • Homenaje a Octavio Paz / Juan Valencia., 1976
  • Octavio Paz / Jorge Rodríguez Padrón., 1975
  • Aproximaciones a Octavio Paz: un simposio / Angel Flores., 1974

Awards

  • Nobel Prize for Literature
  • Peace Prize of the German Book Trade
    Peace Prize of the German Book Trade
    The Peace Prize of the German Book Trade is an international peace prize given yearly at the Frankfurt Book Fair in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt am Main, Germany...

  • Cervantes Prize
  • National Literature Prize (Mexico)
  • Premio Mondello (Palermo, Italy)
  • Alfonso Reyes Prize
  • Neustadt International Prize for Literature
  • Jerusalem Prize
  • Menendez y Pelayo Prize
  • Alexis de Tocqueville Prize
  • Xavier Villaurrutia Award
  • Doctor Honoris Causa (Harvard)
  • Doctor Honoris Causa (National Autonomous University of Mexico)


External links