Thursday, April 17, 2014

"O" is for Octavio Paz

Celebrating 100 Years

Octavio Paz 1914-1998

A little bit of Mexican culture today for the 15th post of this month's A to Z Blogging challenge.

This year marks the Centennial of Mexican writer, poet, diplomat and Nobel laureate Octavio Paz. According to wikipedia he is considered one of the most influential writers of the 20th century and one of the greatest Hispanic poets of all time. 

While I haven't read too much of his poetry I have read one of his most famous works "The Labyrinth of Solitude." It is a collection of nine essays analyzing the Mexican and his/her psychology, morality, relationship to other Mexicans, our history and our country.

He writes many of these essays as a Mexican that can observe other Mexicans from the outside. Working as a diplomat or any other occupation that has you living as an expat allows you to get some distance both figuratively and literally from you country and fellow countrymen. With this distance you are then able to observe the world with different eyes.  Paz used this when trying to pinpoint what the Mexican identity was and created his famous book.

While I have met some people who aren't too fond of his work I still believe that "The Labyrinth of Solitude" is a must read for any Mexican and Mexican enthusiast. Hell, I believe Americans should read it as well because of the relationship we share. 

So I do recommend this book to anyone who is interested in understanding Mexicans just a little bit better. If you have no interest in Mexico or it's people then it probably isn't the book for you.

Are there any books from your own respective countries that you feel should be read by fellow citizens or those interested in your culture? 




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15 comments:

  1. Great post today, I keep learning new things from your blog :)

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    1. Thank you! And I'm glad! That's part of the fun of blogging right, sharing information.

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  2. Interesting. I think as Americans we think of people from Mexico as all the same when the country is a melting pot with lots of diversity. Enjoying your posts.

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    1. Thank you. Yeah and especially being neighbors it's important to understand each other I think.

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  3. Hi Cely - I think we should all read about other cultures - if we can't get to visit - we need to know and people are so different, attitudes are different and our approaches to life are different ...

    I'd like us to be more educated and appreciate what's going on elsewhere ...

    I guess I really should remember Octavio Paz .. and read his Labyrinth of Solitude - the title tells the story .. cheers Hilary

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    1. I agree Hilary. The world is full of such a wide range of diverse and amazing people, it would be a shame not to try a to learn a bit more about at least a few.

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  4. I agree, Americans should definitely read it. Even when they read about Mexican culture, a huge portion is written by white American authors. Never as good as an insider perspective.

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Tales of colors
    MopDog - The crazy thing about Hungarians...

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    1. Totally. It's easier for the world to know about American culture but you really have to research a bit more if you want to learn about others.

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  6. I haven't read any Mexican literature so may look out for Octavio Paz and his essays. I am currently reading The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany which a friend who lives in Egypt has said is partially responsible for the recent revolutions over there, the culture was all too much shown in sharp relief apparently.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by! Thanks also for the recommendation by the way. I think I'll take a look at The Yacoubian Building. It sounds like an interesting read.

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  7. I'm not sure how I would answer your question, Cely, but as an ex-pat Brit, I can attest to the fact that distance from your home country does give you an interesting perspective on both your former homeland, and its occupants and culture. Even after just a few years living here in the US, I could sit in a restaurant watching people standing around talking, and without hearing a word spoken, spot the Brits. :)

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    1. I know what you mean. After a while it feels a bit like a super power =P You can't really do too much with it but it's nice to know you can tell the difference.

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  8. My parents lived in China for several years, so even though it's not part of my heritage I grew up with a lot of Chinese culture. I read a lot of historical books, like maps and biographies and stuff. I don't have any fiction-type book or essays, but I do love traditional Chinese food!

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    1. I think that's great. A culture doesn't have to be tied to your blood for you to take part in it in some way or be influenced by it. The more we appreciate different cultures the better.

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