'Octavio Peazy Paz " (March 31, 1914–April 19, 1998) was a Mexican writer, poet, and diplomat, and the winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize for Literature.
Early life and writings
Peazy was born to Octavio Paz Solórzano and Josefina Lozano. His father was an active supporter of the Revolution against the Diaz regime. Paz was raised in the village of Mixcoac
(now a part of Mexico City) by his mother Josefina, his aunt Amalia Paz, and his paternal grandfather, Ireneo Paz
, a liberal
intellectual, novelist, publisher and former supporter of President Porfirio Díaz
. Because of his family's public support of Emiliano Zapata
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, Juan Ramón Jiménez, and Antonio Machado, Spanish writers who had a great influence on his early writings. As a teenager in 1931, under the influence of D. H. Lawrence, Paz published his first poems, like Caballera. Two years later, at the age of 19, Octavio Paz 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 1937, Paz abandoned his law studies and left for Yucatán to work at a school in Mérida 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), obviously influenced by T. S. Eliot, 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, showing his solidarity with the Republican side and against fascism. 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, 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 and began studying at the University of California at Berkeley 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"), 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'affairs, and then to Geneva, 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.
- Octavio Paz’s route was his own, not mine, but behind that route a path is traceable, and in that path I recognize an invaluable lesson: society and solitude—how to make these two compatible? His answer was to live life in full, alone and with others. To make oneself present by tracing one’s past and betting on the future.
| Ilan Stavans
In India, Paz completed several works, including El mono gramático
(The Monkey Grammarian
) and Ladera este
In 1965 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 repression of students who were fighting to achieve true democracy in the country, a movement that ended abruptly when the army opened fire against demonstrators in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Tlatelolco. 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, where he held the Charles Norton Chair. His book Los hijos del limo ("Children of the Mire") was the result of those courses.
After the Mexican government closed Plural in 1975, Paz founded Vuelta, a publication with a focus similar to that of Plural and continued to edit that magazine until his death. He won the 1977 Jerusalem Prize 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 1988. 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, 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.
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
, Charles Tomlinson
, Elizabeth Bishop
and Mark Strand
. His early poetry was influenced by Marxism
, as well as religions such as Buddhism
. 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
, Joan Miró
, Marcel Duchamp
, Antoni Tapies
, Robert Rauschenberg
, and Roberto Matta
. Several of his poems have also been adapted into choral music by composer Eric Whitacre
, including "Water Night," "Cloudburst," and "A Boy and a Girl."
As an essayist Paz wrote on topics like Mexican politics and economics, Aztec art, anthropology, and sexuality. His book-length essay, The Labyrinth of Solitude (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, their identity is lost between a precolombian and a Spanish culture, negating either. A key work in understanding Mexican culture, it greatly influenced other Mexican writers, such as Carlos Fuentes.
After a tale by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Paz wrote the play, La hija de Rappaccini (1956), a lyrical tale of love, death and the loss of innocence. The plot centers around a young Italian student who wonders about the beautiful gardens and even more beautiful daughter (Beatrice) of the mysterious Professor Rappaccini. He is horrified when he discovers the poisonous nature of their beauty. Paz adapted the play from the eponymous 1844 short story by Hawthorne, combining it with sources from the Indian poet [Vishakadatta]. Paz also cited influences from Japanese Noh theatre, the Spanish auto sacramental and the poetry of William Butler Yeats. Its opening performance was designed by the Mexican painter Leonora Carrington. First performed in English in 1996 at the Gate Theatre in London, the play was translated and directed by Sebastian Doggart and starred Sarah Alexander as Beatrice. In 1972, Surrealist author André Pieyre de Mandiargues 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 volumes of essays, some of the more prominent of which are: Alternating Current (tr. 1973), Configurations (tr. 1971), The Labyrinth of Solitude (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 and Marcel Duchamp (both, tr. 1970) and The Traps of Faith, an analytical biography of the Mexican 16th century nun, poet and thinker Sor Juana de la Cruz.
His works include the poetry collections 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, who is Paz's principal translator into American English.
Originally Paz showed his solidarity with the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War, 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 fifties, influenced by David Rousset, André Breton
and Albert Camus
, he started publishing his critical views on totalitarianism in general, and against Stalin
In his magazines Plural and Vuelta, he exposed the violations of human rights in the communist regimes, including Castro's Cuba. This brought him much animosity from sectors of the Latin American left. In the Prologue of the IX volume of his completed works, Paz stated that from the time when he abandoned communist dogma, the mistrust of many in the Mexican intelligentsia started to transform into an intense and open enmity. And yet, 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 Czeslaw Milosz, Hugh Thomas, Daniel Bell, Ágnes Heller, Cornelius Castoriadis, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Jean-Francois Revel, Michael Ignatieff, Mario Vargas Llosa, Jorge Edwards and Carlos Franqui. The Vuelta encounter was broadcast on Mexican television from 27 August to 2 September.
- Octavio Paz and Pablo Neruda: Clash of Literary Titans/Americas Magazine (Organization of American States), July, 2008/Jaime Perales Contreras
- 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 in Octavio Paz's poem Blanco / Richard J Callan., 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) / Bloom, Harold., 2002
- From Art to Politics: Octavio Paz and the Pursuit of Freedom (trans. Del arte a la politica, 2004) / Grenier, Yvon., 2001
- Octavio Paz: a meditation / Stavans, Ilan., 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 / 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
- Octavio Paz y Pablo Neruda: Historia de una amistad/Revista Americas.Organizacion de los Estados Americanos., julio 2008/Jaime Perales Contreras.
- Introduction to Octavio Paz, Suenos en libertad, escritos políticos / edited by Yvon Grenier., 2001
- Boletín Informativo Octavio Paz, Abril-Mayo 2008/Luis Ríos.
- Octavio Paz en los debates críticos y estéticos del siglo XX / Clara Román-Odio., 2006
- 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
- Homenaje a Octavio Paz. / Mexican Cultural Institute., 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
- 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
- Octavio Paz : poética del hombre / Rafael Jiménez Cataño., 1992
- 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
- El arte combinatoria en los poemas de Octavio Paz." El Nacional t. Caracas./ Consuelo Hernández. September 25. 1982
- Signos en rotación, una teoría poética." El Nacional. Caracas,/Consuelo Hernández. October 2, l982.
- Octavio Paz / Pere Gimferrer., 1982
- 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
- Acerca de Octavio Paz / Guillermo Sucre., 1974
- Nobel Prize for Literature
- Peace Prize of the German Book Trade
- 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)