Wednesday, October 27, 2010
The Poet: Octavio Paz
By Pollux Parker
A prominent figure in Mexican literature, Octavio Paz was known for his surreal works which were mostly poems and essays. Some of his writings were also influenced by Marxism. His interest towards literature was said to have sprung from his exposure to the library of his grandfather, also a prominent liberal and a novelist.
Paz started writing at an early age and was said to be influenced by poets such as Gerardo Diego and Juan Ramon Jimenez among others. One of his longest poems was Entre la Piedra y Flor (Between the Stone and the Flower), which was about the oppression experienced by Mexican peasants under their landlords. Other notable works of Paz include El Laberinto de la Soledad (The Labyrinth of Solitude), which speaks of the Mexican identity, and the El Mono Gramatico (The Grammarian Monkey) and the Ladera este (Eastern Slope) which he both wrote in India where he stayed as a Mexican ambassador. Aside from India, Paz also travelled to Spain to express his opposition to fascism, to U.S.A., Tokyo, and Geneva.
Paz founded many literary newsletters such as Barandal (a literary review) in 1932, Taller (co-founded) in 1938 and the magazine Plural in 1969 together with other Latin American writers. He also founded Vuelta after the Mexican government stopped the publication of Plural.
Many of his works were translated into different languages. In 1990, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Prior to that, he received the Cervantes Award in 1981 and the American Neustadt Prize in 1982. The poet lived for 84 years and died on 1998 from cancer.