by Octavio Paz ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 30, 1985
This new edition of his international masterpiece reminds us why the Mexican poet, playwright, and essayist is an intellectual force worth reckoning with (and an undeniable candidate for the Nobel Prize). The moral imagination everywhere in evidence in the title essay (first published in 1951) accrues with time, for vision demands revision. And Paz continues to accept the challenges provided by history, both its hopes and its disillusionments. This necessarily open-ended meditation relies on the same subtle leaning that charted Paz's ""critical"" project from its start. Criticism, the intellectual's proper activity in Paz's view, ""consists in knowing ourselves but, just as much or more, in freeing ourselves""; it unfolds the possibility of freedom and is thus an invitation to action."" In the works brought together here for the first time (the 1959 edition of The Labyrinth; The Other Mexico, 1969; an interview from 1976, and two essays first published in 1979), Paz sets out to explain nothing less than the Mexican national character and thereby suggests the dilemmas which transcend nations, for Mexico's past, present, and future are inevitably contextual. ""Our own labyrinth,"" he writes, ""is the labyrinth of all mankind."" The solitude which characterizes the Mexican search for self pervades modern life; it is the alienation of the intellectual as well as the despair of the peasant. To escape ""othemess"" and ""self-effacement"" Mexico must make its past present; the country must seek communion and redemption in its unique history, which is a confluence of Spanish and Indian civilizations. Paz defines the historical self by means of a cultural anthropology which comprehends a wealth of literary, mythological, linguistic, and political examples--all of which seem to be at his fingertips. The most important new material in this edition (essays first published in Dissent and The New Yorker) refines Paz's brilliant dialectic. These essays on Mexico's relation to the US make more explicit the relevance of his message for North American readers, whose numbers should grow with this book's publication. His is a most welcome voice of genuine moderation in a dialogue wracked by extremes.
Pub Date: Oct. 30, 1985
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1985
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