BIOGRAPHY OF OCTAVIO PAZ
Together with Pablo Neruda and César Vallejo, Octavio Paz forms the triad of great poets who, after the decline of modernism, led the renewal of the Latin American lyricism of the TWENTIETH century. The Nobel Prize in Literature of 1990, the first awarded to a Mexican author, also represented the recognition of his immense and influential intellectual stature, which was reflected in a brilliant essays production.
Grandson of the writer Ireneo Paz, the literary interests of Octavio Paz were manifested very precociously, and he published his first works in various literary journals. He Studied at the faculties of Laws and of Philosophy and Letters of the National University. His social concerns were also promptly felt, and in 1937 he made a trip to Yucatán with the intention of creating a school for children of workers. In June of that same year he married the writer Elena Garro (who would give him a daughter and from which he would separate years later) and left his academic studies to carry out, together with his wife, a trip to Europe that would be fundamental in all his vital trajectory and int Electual.
In Paris He made contact, among others, with César Vallejo and Pablo Neruda, and he was invited to the Congress of anti-fascist Writers of Valencia. Until the end of September 1937 he remained in Spain, where he personally met Vicente Huidobro, Nicolás Guillén, Antonio Machado and outstanding poets of the generation of 27, such as Rafael Alberti, Luis Cernuda, Miguel Hernández, Emilio Prados and Manuel Altolaguirre. In Addition to visiting the front, during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) he wrote numerous articles in support of the Republican cause.
After returning to Paris and visiting New York, in 1938 he returned to Mexico and collaborated intensely with the Spanish Republican refugees, especially with the poets of Spain’s Time group. Meanwhile, he worked in a bank and wrote daily a column of international politics in The Popular, trade union newspaper that abandoned by ideological discrepancies. In 1942 He founded the magazines New Earth and The Prodigal Son.
Since the end of 1943 (year when he received a Guggenheim grant to visit the United States) until 1953, Octavio Paz resided outside his native country: first in several American cities and, after the Second World War, in Paris, after entering the Mexican Foreign Service. In The French capital began its estrangement from Marxism and existentialism to approach a utopian socialism and especially surrealism, understood as a vital attitude and in whose circles was introduced thanks to Benjamin Péret and mainly his great friend André Breton.
Returned to Mexico in 1955
Again in Mexico, he founded in 1955 the poetic and theatrical group Poetry Aloud, and later began his collaborations in the Mexican Magazine of Literature and The Feathered Horn. In the publications of this period he defended the experimental positions of contemporary art. In the decade of the 60 he returned to the Foreign Service, being destined as official of the Mexican Embassy in Paris (1960-1961) and later in India (1962-1968); In this last country he met Marie-José Mini, with whom he married in 1964. In 1966 he edited with José Emilio Pacheco and Homero Aridjis the anthology Poetry in motion. He Closed his diplomatic activity in 1968, when he resigned as a protest against the repressive policy of the government of Gustavo Díaz Ordaz against the student Democratic Movement, culminating in the massacre in the Plaza of the Three Cultures of Tlatelolco.
Since then he has been teaching at American and European universities, while continuing his tireless cultural work by giving lectures and founding new magazines, such as Plural (1971-1976) or Vuelta (1976). In 1990 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, crowning a exemplary trajectory already previously recognised with the highest accolade of the Latin American Letters, the Cervantes Award (1981), and which would be again awarded with the Prince of Asturias Communication and Humanities (1993).
The Poetry of Octavio Paz
The bulk of Octavio Paz’s vast production falls into two genres: lyric and essay. His poetry went into the fields of eroticism, formal experimentation and reflection on the destiny of Man. Broadly speaking, three great phases can be distinguished in his poetic work: In the first, the author intended to penetrate, through the word, into an area of essential energies that led to a certain impersonality; In the second Entroncó with the surrealist tradition, before finding a new impulse in the contact with the Oriental; In the last stage of his lyrical trajectory, the poet gave priority to the alliance between eroticism and knowledge.
On Parole (1949), Octavio Paz grouped wrote several books between 1935 and 1947. In The first compositions they listened to a neorromántica aesthetic and strong social concerns.
But soon an existential theme was added, revolving around the feeling of loneliness, the problems of their time, communication, the possibility of love… Following this path, his poetry became an instrument of knowledge of himself and of the world; In short, a poetry of metaphysical sign.
But soon the discovery of Surrealism would teach him the liberating power of the word and, with the valuation of the irrational, the possibility of returning to the language some mythical dimensions. In parallel, as Octavio Paz said, a return to the vanguard and a return to the magic word. Both directions were materialized in poems ranging from Eagle or sun? (1949-50) to an extensive and masterful composition titled Sol Stone (1957), built from the Aztec myths of circular time.
Often Marked as one of its masterpieces, the Sun Stone is at a crossroads of its lyrical trajectory: the poem condenses on one hand its historical and existential concerns, and anticipates by other its later work. It Is composed of 584 syllable (the same figure as the Aztec calendar years) of great density and powerful images, after which the poem returns to the beginning. This circular structure does not impede the advancement of the poet’s inquiries, referring to love, the individual and the meaning of history and the world.
Poet, Narrator, essayist, translator, editor and great promoter of Mexican letters, Paz was always at the center of the artistic, political and social discussion of the country. Both the insatiable curiosity and the variety of their interests and their sharp analytical intelligence became evident in their numerous essays, which covered a wide range of topics, from art and literature to sociology and linguistics, through the History and politics. Substance, depth and subtlety characterize these texts.
Of literary subject are The bow and the Lira (1959), deep reflection on the poetic creation, and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz or the traps of the Faith (1982), complete study on the work and the complex personality of Juana Inés de la Cruz, Mexican poetess of the 17TH century. The Mexican identity is on the other hand the theme of the Labyrinth of Loneliness (1950) and PostScript (1970).
The Grammatical Monkey (1974), which participates at the same time of the reflection and the poem in prose, delves into the essence of the language and constitutes a testimony of its attraction towards the Orient; The title alludes to the chief of the Monkeys Hanuman, one of the main characters of the Ramayana. Cloudy Weather (1983) deals with the contemporary political and social situation. In View Privileges (1987) are his appreciations on the visual arts.
His last essays include The Double Flame (1993). The work goes through the universal literature in search of the genesis of the poetic idea of love, the polite love of Provence, of which it is precedent in the millenary Indian and Chinese Religions and in Hellenism (with its fusion of East and West). After The Provencal poets, Christianity was the tree of polite love; The carnal passion, consummation of love, was relegated in favor of the divinization of the beloved object (Dante, Petrarca and the Neoplatonism).
According to the author, we had to wait for the French Revolution for love to recover its humanity in the hands of poets and proponents. But in the modern world, the sexual Revolution of 1968 led to the end of the soul at the hands of scientific materialism; In other words, love has been the victim of the crisis of the idea of person: an extreme pessimism closes this work. Other titles of his abundant essays production are Cuadrivio (1965), Claude Lévi-Strauss or the new Feast of Aesop (1967), Conjunctions and Disjunctions (1969), The Children of the Slime (1974), The Philanthropic Ogre (1979) and Men of its Century (1984).