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The Nobel Prize in Literature 1990
Octavio Paz

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Octavio Paz - Biographical

Octavio Paz was born in 1914 in Mexico City. On his father's side, his grandfather was a prominent liberal intellectual and one of the first authors to write a novel with an expressly Indian theme. Thanks to his grandfather's extensive library, Paz came into early contact with literature. Like his grandfather, his father was also an active political journalist who, together with other progressive intellectuals, joined the agrarian uprisings led by Emiliano Zapata.

Paz began to write at an early age, and in 1937, he travelled to Valencia, Spain, to participate in the Second International Congress of Anti-Fascist Writers. Upon his return to Mexico in 1938, he became one of the founders of the journal, Taller (Workshop), a magazine which signaled the emergence of a new generation of writers in Mexico as well as a new literary sensibility. In 1943, he travelled to the USA on a Guggenheim Fellowship where he became immersed in Anglo-American Modernist poetry; two years later, he entered the Mexican diplomatic service and was sent to France, where he wrote his fundamental study of Mexican identity, The Labyrinth of Solitude, and actively participated (together with Andre Breton and Benjamin Peret) in various activities and publications organized by the surrealists. In 1962, Paz was appointed Mexican ambassador to India: an important moment in both the poet's life and work, as witnessed in various books written during his stay there, especially, The Grammarian Monkey and East Slope. In 1968, however, he resigned from the diplomatic service in protest against the government's bloodstained supression of the student demonstrations in Tlatelolco during the Olympic Games in Mexico. Since then, Paz has continued his work as an editor and publisher, having founded two important magazines dedicated to the arts and politics: Plural (1971-1976) and Vuelta, which he has been publishing since 1976. In 1980, he was named honorary doctor at Harvard. Recent prizes include the Cervantes award in 1981 - the most important award in the Spanish-speaking world - and the prestigious American Neustadt Prize in 1982.

Paz is a poet and an essayist. His poetic corpus is nourished by the belief that poetry constitutes "the secret religion of the modern age." Eliot Weinberger has written that, for Paz, "the revolution of the word is the revolution of the world, and that both cannot exist without the revolution of the body: life as art, a return to the mythic lost unity of thought and body, man and nature, I and the other." His is a poetry written within the perpetual motion and transparencies of the eternal present tense. Paz's poetry has been collected in Poemas 1935-1975 (1981) and Collected Poems, 1957-1987 (1987). A remarkable prose stylist, Paz has written a prolific body of essays, including several book-length studies, in poetics, literary and art criticism, as well as on Mexican history, politics and culture.

Poesía
Luna silvestre. México, Fabula, 1933.
No pasarán! México, Simbad, 1936
Raíz del hombre. México, Simbad, 1937.
Bajo tu clara sombra y otros poemas sobre España. Valencia, Ediciones Españolas, 1937.
Entre la piedra y la flor. México, Nueva Voz, 1941.
A la orilla del mundo. México, ARS, 1942.
Libertad bajo palabra. México, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1949.
Semillas para un himno. México, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1954.
Piedra de sol. México, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1957.
La estación violenta. México, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1958.
Salamandra (1958-1961). México, Joaquín Mortiz, 1962.
Viento entero. Delhi, The Caxton Press, 1965.
Blanco. México, Joaquin Mortiz, 1967.
Discos visuales. México, Ediciones ERA, 1968 (Arte de Vicente Rojo).
Ladera Este (1962-1968). México, Joaquín Mortiz, 1969.
La centena (1935-1968). Barcelona, Barral, 1969.
Topoemas, México, Ediciones ERA, 1971.
Renga. México, Joaquín Mortiz, 1972. Poema colectivo con Jacques Roubaud, Edoardo Sanguinetti y Charles Tomlinson.
Pasado en claro. México, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1975.
Vuelta. Barcelona, Seix Barral, 1976.
Hijos del aire/Airborn. Con Charles Tomlinson. México, Martín Pescador, 1979.
Poemas (1935-1975). Barcelona, Seix Barral, 1979.
Prueba del nueve. México, Círculo de Lectores, 1985.
Árbol adentro (1976-1987). Barcelona, Seix Barral, 1987.
Lo mejor de Octavio Paz. El fuego de cada día. Selección, prólogo y notas del autor. Barcelona, Seix Barral, 1989.
 
Prosa poética
Águila o sol? México, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1951. El mono gramático.Barcelona, Seix Barral, 1974.
 
Teatro
"La hija de Rappaccini". México, en la Revista Mexicana de Literatura, 7, septiembre-octubre 1956, y en Poemas, 1979.
 
Ensayos
El laberinto de la soledad. México, Cuadernos Americanos, 1950. Segunda edición, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1959.
El arco y la lira. México, Fondo de Cultura Econ&oacutemica, 1956.
Las peras del olmo. México, UNAM, 1957.
Cuadrivio. México, Joaquín Mortiz, 1965.
Los signos en rotación. Buenos Aires, Sur, 1965.
Puertas al campo. México, UNAM, 1966.
Claude Lévi-Strauss o el nuevo festín de Esopo. México, Joaquín Mortiz, 1967.
Corriente alterna. México, Siglo XXI, 1967.
Marcel Duchamp o el castillo de la pureza. México, Ediciones ERA 1968. Incluido después en Apariencia desnuda; la obra de Marcel Duchamp. México, Ediciones ERA 1973.
Conjunciones y disyunciones. México, Joaquín Mortiz, 1969.
México: la última década. Austin, Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Texas, 1969.
Posdata. México, Siglo XXI, 1970.
Las cosas en su sitio: sobre la literatura española del siglo xx. Con Juan Marichal. México, Finisterre, 1971.
Los signos en rotación y otros ensayos. Introducción y edición de Carlos Fuentes. Madrid, Alianza Editorial, 1971.
Traducción: literatura y literalidad. Barcelona, Tusquets Editores, 1971.
El signo y el garabato. México, Joaquín Mortiz, 1973.
Solo a dos voces. Con Julián Rios. Barcelona, Lumen, 1973.
Teatro de signos/Transparencias. Edición de Julián Rios. Madrid, Fundamentos, 1974.
La búsqueda del comienzo. Madrid, Fundamentos, 1974.
Los hijos del limo: del romanticismo a la vanguardia. Barcelona Seix Barral, 1974
Xavier Villaurrutia en persona y en obra. México, Fondo de Cultura Económica 1978.
El ogro filantropico: historia y politica (1971-1978). México, Joaquin Mortiz, 1979.
In/mediaciones. Barcelona, Seix Barral, 1979.
México en la obra de Octavio Paz. Editado y con una introducción de Luis Mario Schneider. México, Promociones Editoriales Mexicanas, 1979.
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz o las trampas de la fe. México, Fondo de Cultura Económica 1982, y Barcelona, Seix Barral, 1982.
Tiempo nublado. Barcelona, Seix Barral, 1983.
Sombras de obras. Barcelona, Seix Barral, 1983.
Hombres en su siglo y otros ensayos. Barcelona, Seix Barral, 1984.
Pasión crítica: conversaciones con Octavio Paz. Edición de Hugo J. Verani. Barcelona Seix Barral, 1985.
México en la obra de Octavio Paz (3 volumenes). Vol. I. El peregrino en su patria. Historia y política de México. Vol. II. Generaciones y semblanzas. Escritores y letras de México. Vol. III. Los privilegios de la vista. Arte de México. Edición de Luis Mario Schneider y Octa vio Paz. México, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1987.
Primeras páginas. Edición e introducción de Enrico Mario Santí. Barcelona, Seix Barral, 1988, y México, Vuelta, 1988.
Poes&iacutea, mito, revolución. Precedido por los discursos de Francois Mitterrand, Alain Peyrefitte, Pierre Godefroy. Premio Alexis de Tocqueville. México, Vuelta, 1989
La otra vez. Poesía y fin de siglo. Barcelona, Seix Barral, 1990.
 
Traducciones y ediciones de Octavio Paz
Anthologie de la poésie mexicaine. Edición e introducción de Octavio Paz con una nota de Paul Claudel. Paris, Éditions Nagel (Col. UNESCO), 1952.
Anthology of Mexican Poetry. Edición e introducción de Octavio Paz con una nota de C. M. Bowra, y traducción al inglés de Samuel Beckett. Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1958.
Basho, Matsuo. Sendas de Oku. Traducido por Eikichi Hayashiya y Octavio Paz, con una introducción de Octavio Paz. México, UNAM, 1957, y Seix Barral, 1970
Laurel: Antología de la poesía moderna en lengua española. Edición de Xavier Villaurrutia, Emilio Prados, Juan Gil-Albert y Octavio Paz. México, Editorial Séneca, 1941.
Pessoa, Fernando. Antología. Edición, traducción e introducción de Octavio Paz. México, UNAM, 1962.
Poesía en movimiento (México: 1915-1966). Edición de Octavio Paz, Alí Chumacero, Homero Aridjis y Jose Emilio Pacheco. México, Siglo XXI, 1966.
Versiones y diversiones. Traducciones de poesía. México, Joaquin Mortiz, 1974.
 
Selección de libros sobre Octavio Paz
Céa, Claire. Octavio Paz. Paris, Seghers, 1965.
Chantikian, Kosrof (Ed.). Octavio Paz. Homage to the Poet. San Francisco, Kosmos, 1980.
Cuadernos Hispanoamericanos. Núms. 343-345, enero-marzo 1979. Homenaje a Octavio Paz.
Fein, John M. Toward Octavio Paz: A Reading of his Major Poems, 1957-1976. Lexington, The University Press of Kentucky, 1986.
Flores, Angel (Ed.). Aproximaciones a Octavio Paz. México, Joaquín Mortiz, 1974.
Gimferrer, Pere. Lecturas de Octavio Paz. Barcelona, Anagrama, 1980.
Gimferrer, Pere (Ed.). Octavio Paz. Madrid, Taurus, 1982.
Gradiva, 6 - 7, febrero 1975. París. Homenaje a Octavio Paz.
Ivask, Ivar (Ed.). The Perpetual Present: The Poetry and Prose of Octavio Paz. Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 1973.
Lemaitre, Monique. Octavio Paz: poesía y poética. México, UNAM, 1976.
Magis, Carlos H. La poesía hermética de Octavio Paz. México, El Colegio de México, 1978.
Martínez Torrón, Diego. Variables poéticas de Octavio Paz. Madrid, Hiperión, 1979.
Peña Labra, 38, invierno 1980-1981. Homenaje a Octavio Paz.
Perdigó, Luisa M. La estética de Octavio Paz. Madrid, Playor, 1975.
Phillips, Rachel. The Poetic Modes of Octavio Paz. Londres, Oxford University Press, 1972.
Las estaciones poéticas de Octavio Paz. México, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1976.
Review, 6, otoño 1972, Nueva York. Homenaje a Octavio Paz.
Revista Iberoamericana, 37:74, enero-marzo 1971. Homenaje a Octavio Paz.
Rodríguez Padrón, Jorge. Octavio Paz. Madrid, Júcar, 1975.
Roggiano, Alfredo (Ed.). Octavio Paz. Madrid, Fundamentos, 1979.
Rojas Guzmán, Eusebio. Reinvencion de la palabra: la obra poética de Octavio Paz. México, Costa-Amic, 1979.
Scharer-Nussberger, Maya. Octavio Paz. Trayectorias y visiones. México, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1989.
Sucre, Guillermo et al. Acerca de Octavio Paz. Montevideo, Fundación de Cultura Universitaria, 1974.
Tizzoni, Julia L.M. La palabra, el amor y el tiempo en Octavio Paz. Paraná, Argentina, 1973.
Valencia Juan y Edward Coughlin (Eds.). Homenaje a Octavio Paz. México, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosi, 1976.
Verani, Hugo J. Octavio Paz: bibliografía crítica. México, UNAM, 1983.
Wilson, Jason. Octavio Paz: A Study of his Poetics. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1979.
Xirau, Ramón. Octavio Paz: el entido de la palabra. México, Joaquín Mortiz, 1970.
 
Paz in English
Poetry
Lloyd Mallan, "A little Anthology of Young Mexican Poets," in New Directions 9, (1947) (first translation of Paz's poetry in English).
Sun Stone, trans. Muriel Rukeyser. London & N.Y.: New Directions, 1962.
Sun Stone, trans. Peter Miller. Toronto: Contact Press, 1963.
Selected Poems, trans. Muriel Rukeyser. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1963.
Piedra de Sol: The Sun Stone, trans. Donald Gardner. York, England: Cosmos Publications, 1969.
Aguila o sol? Eagle or Sun?, trans. Eliot Weinberger. N.Y.: October House, 1970.
Configurations, various translators. N.Y.: New Directions, and London: Cape, 1971.
Renga: A Chain of Poems, trans. Charles Tomlinson. N.Y.: George Braziller, 1972 (collaborative poem written with Tomlinson, Jacques Roubaud, & Edoardo Sanguineti).
Early Poems: 1935-1955, various translators. N.Y.: New Directions, 1973, and Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1974.
3 Notations/Rotations. Cambridge, Mass.: Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, 1974 (limited edition with graphic designs by Toshihiro Katayama).
Blanco, trans. Eliot Weinberger. N.Y.: The Press, 1974 (limited edition with "illuminations" by Adja Yunkers).
Eagle or Sun?, trans. Eliot Weinberger, N.Y.: New Directions, 1976 (new version).
A Draft of Shadows and Other Poems, ed. & trans. Eliot Weinberger, N.Y.: New Directions, 1979 (additional translations by Mark Strand & Elizabeth Bishop).
Selected Poems, ed. Charles Tomlinson, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1979 (various translators).
Airborn/Hijos del Aire, trans. Charles Tomlinson. London: Anvil Press, 1981 (collaborative poem written with Tomlinson).
The Monkey Crammarian, trans. Helen Lane. N.Y.: Seaver Books, 1981.
Obsidian Butterfly, trans. Eliot Weinberger. Barcelona: Ediciones Poligrafa, 1983 (limited edition, with artwork by Brian Nissen).
Selected Poems, ed. Eliot Weinberger. N.Y.: New Directions, 1984 (various translators).
The Four Poplars, trans. Eliot Weinberger. N.Y.: The Red Ozier Press, 1985 (limited edition with woodblock by Antonio Frasconi).
Homage and Desecrations, trans. Eliot Weinberger. N.Y.: The Red Ozier Press, 1987 (limited edition with artwork by Richard Mock).
 
Prose
The Labyrinth of Solitude, trans. Lysander Kemp. N.Y.: Grove Press, 1961.
Marcel Duchamp, or the Castle of Purity, trans. Donald Gardner. London: Cape Goliard, and N.Y.: Grossman, 1970.
Claude Lévi-Strauss: An Introduction, trans. J.S. Bernstein & Maxine Bernstein. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1970.
The Other Mexico: Critique of the Pyramid, trans. Lysander Kemp. N.Y.: Grove Press, 1972.
Alternating Current, trans. Helen Lane. N.Y.: Viking Press, 1973.
The Bow and the Lyre, trans. Ruth L.C. Simms. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1973.
Children of the Mire: Poetry from Romanticism to the Avant-Garde, trans. Rachel Phillips. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974.
Conjunctions and Disjunctions, trans. Helen Lane. N.Y.: Viking Press, 1974.
The Siren and the Seashell, and Other Essays on Poets and Poetry, trans. Lysander Kemp & Margaret Seyers Peden. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1976.
Marcel Duchamp: Appearance Stripped Bare, trans. Rachel Phillips & Donald Gardner. N.Y.: Viking Press. 1978.
The Labyrinth of Solitude, trans. Lysander Kemp, Yara Milos, & Rachel Phillips Belash. N.Y.: Grove Press, 1985 (expanded edition containing other works).
One Earth, Four or Five Worlds: Reflections on Contemporary History, trans. Helen Lane. N.Y.: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1985.
On Poets and Others, trans. Michael Schmidt. N.Y.: Seaver Books, 1986.
Convergences: Selected Essays on Art and Literature, trans. Helen Lane. N.Y.: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987.
 
Anthologies, critical studies, interviews
An Anthology of Mexican Poetry, ed. Octavio Paz, trans. Samuel Beckett. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1958.
New Poetry of Mexico, selected by Paz, Ali Chumacero, José Emilio Pacheco & Hormero Aridjis, bilingual edition edited by Mark Strand. N.Y.: E.P. Dutton, 1970 (various translators).
Rachel Phillips, The Poetic Modes of Octavio Paz. London: Oxford University Press, 1972.
Rita Guibert, Seven Voices, trans. Frances Partridge. N.Y.: Alfred Knopf, 1973 (contains most extensive interview with Paz available in English).
The Perpetual Present: The Poetry and Prose of Octavio Paz, ed. Ivar Ivask, Norman. University of Oklahoma Press, 1973.
Jason Wilson, Octavio Paz: A Study of His Poetics. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1979.
Octavio Paz: Homage to the Poet, ed. Kosrof Chantikian. San Francisco: Kosmos Editions, 1980 (contains a complete translation by Harry Haskell of the Play, Rappaccini's Daughter).
John M. Fein, Torward Octavio Paz: A Reading of His Major Poems, 1957-1976. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1986.

From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 1990, Editor Tore Frängsmyr, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1991

This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and later published in the book series Les Prix Nobel/Nobel Lectures/The Nobel Prizes. The information is sometimes updated with an addendum submitted by the Laureate.

 

Octavio Paz died on April 19, 1998.

 

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1990
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