Today is March 31th and it is the birthday anniversary of Mexican writer, poet, essayist Octavio Paz, Mexico’s only winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and one of the most important poets of the XXth century. Octavio Paz was, one of the most important intellectuals of Mexico and Latin America. Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1990, Octavio Paz was born in Mexico in 1914 and passed away in April 19th of 1998 at age 84. His literary movement was Surrealism. Besides of being an important intellectual and writer, Octavio Paz was also a diplomat, first he was ambassador of Mexico in France and later ambassador of Mexico in India.
It is difficult for me to describe the entire work of Octavio Paz in just a few words in Facebook because his work was huge, versatile and complex. And I don’t know what I like more about Octavio Paz, if his poetry or essays, because he was both an extraordinary Poet and essayist.
His most famous work is “Labyrinth of Solitude” in which Octavio Paz makes an importan analysis of Mexico and the Mexican personality. His greatest poem is “Piedra de Sol” (Sunstone – Pierre de Soleil) and one of his most important books is “Libertad bajo Palabra” (Liberty under Oath) in which has a compilation of his poetry, including his majestic “Sunstone”.
In my opinion, his greatest essay is “Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz o las Trampas de la Fe”, in which Octavio Paz makes a very important and provocative study of the life and work of Sor Juana Inés de La Cruz, Mexico’s most important female poet of the Baroque era. In this book, Octavio Paz not only makes very important observations about Sor Juana and her poetry but also about the life of Mexico in the Baroque times (When Mexico was known as “The New Spain”), something that not many intellectuals have done. And one of the most important studies of Octavio Paz in this book was his analysis of Sor Juana’s most important and most complex poem…. “Primero Sueño” (First Dream… or simply the Dream) comparing her poem to Mallarmé’s “Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard”.
“El Arco y la Lira” (The Arc And The Lyre) is another excellent book by Octavio Paz in which he makes a very imporant study of poetry and it’s place in history. The Poetry was Octavio’s most important passion.
In “Cuadrivio” Octavio Paz made an important essay of 4 poets, Rubén Darío, Ramón López Velarde, Fernando Pessoa and Luis Cernuda.
And the art was another passion of Octavio Paz, in which he also made important studies of modern art, from Diego Rivera and Jackson Pollock to Rufino Tamayo and the book “Los Privilegios de la vista” is a good example of the dedication that Octavio Paz had for the modern art.
One of the most important influences on Octavio Paz was French Literature (specially André Breton, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Valéry, Albert Camus and Marcel Duchamp) and culture, in which Octavio Paz once said that it was his “Second Country” and an excellent book that I recommend to read and study the life of Octavio Paz in France is “A passport without a country” (Una Patria sin pasaporte).
Another important influence on Octavio Paz was American-British writer, essayist and poet T.S. Eliot.
Besides of France and India, Octavio Paz also lived in Japan, in which he translated into Spanish the works of many important Japanese writers and poets, like Matsuo Basho, for example.
Remembering Octavio Paz in his 101 Birthday anniversary.