The Nobel Prize in Literature 1990
Born: 31 March 1914, Mexico City, Mexico
Died: 19 April 1998, Mexico City, Mexico
Residence at the time of the award: Mexico
Prize motivation: “for impassioned writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity”
Prize share: 1/1
Octavio Paz was born in Mexico City, Mexico. He grew up under poor circumstances, but access to his grandfather’s library sparked his interest in literature at an early age. Having already begun writing poetry as a teenager, he made his literary debut with the poetry collection Luna silvestre (Wild Moon) in 1933. During a trip to Spain in 1938, he became embroiled in the Spanish Civil War. He returned to Mexico, where he worked as a poet, journalist and translator. Beginning in 1946, he served as a diplomat for 20 years. During this period he published numerous collections of poetry and prose.
One of the best known works by Octavio Paz is El laberinto de la soledad (1950) (The Labyrinth of Solitude), a collection of essays in which he analyzes Mexican history and culture. To this point he had published only poetry collections. He founded several literary magazines, including Vuelta and El hijo pródigo. He was influenced by several different ideologies: Marxism, surrealism, existentialism, Buddhism and Hinduism. In his later works, love and eroticism were prominent themes.
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