1914 - 1998

History as a cruel reality | Time | Labyrinth interpreted | Juno Diaz | Table of Contents | Summary Themes

Mexican diplomat

"Solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition.
Man is the only being who knows he is alone."

Wrote Labyrinth of Solitude, in 1950 while serving in France.

Ambassador to India, 1960s, where he wrote the Monkey Grammarian

Latin American poet, essayist and editor: Nobel Prize winner in 1990 for Literature

Sensitive interpreter and commentator on our times, Latin identity and importance of Latin American experience in world affairs.

Paz stressed:

the universal feeling of separation, a common search for identity, the loss of meaning, the overiding importance of history and significance of human culture in defining our place in nature, society and the world.

Writers are the guardians of language, its meaning and motivation.

Paz was the

Grandson of a writer, intellectual.

Son of a journalist, who was also the Secretary to Emiliano Zapata, the Mexican populist revolutionary.

Octavio Paz uses the metaphor of the ancient maze or Labyrinth to investigate the estrangement and isolation of Solitude as an underlying, formative and ongoing essential quality in Mesoamerican identity.

"Labyrinth -- one of the most fertile & meaningful mythical symbols, the TALISMAN, or the object of restoring health and freedom to a people at the center of a sacred area."

p. 209.

"The idea of a continuous present turns all the presences in which reality manifests itself into phantasms."

"Thanks to the presence of God, nature becomes active."

"History has the cruel reality of a nightmare and the grandeur of humans consists in their making beautiful lasting works out of the real substance of that nightmare . . . it consists in transforming the nightmare into vision, in freeing ourselves from the shapeless horror of reality -- if only for an instant -- by means of creation."

p. 104.

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The Labyrinth of Solitude, 1950