The well known Brazilian writer succumbed -- in the course of the journey recorded in this book and made in 1955 -- to an intense love affair with Mexico, perhaps the most difficult and demanding mistress in the Western hemisphere. Though he has cast his book loosely in the travel book genre, anyone seeking a guidebook should look elsewhere. He is highly selective, geographically, and chooses the central highlands as the ""most Mexican"" -- while ignoring Mexico to the south. The cities and towns thoroughly explored are first and foremost the city of Mexico, Puebla, Cholula, Oaxaca, Taxco and Guanajuato. But despite his lyrical brilliance in relating the beauties of these spots, his real contribution is found in his observations on history, society, economy and above all character. As a Latin American intellectual, free from Anglo-Saxon attitudes, he was received by his Mexican counterparts with less suspicion than is the average foreigner. Two immensely interesting sections of the book are long dialogues with the distinguished scholar-statesman, Jose Vasconcelos and the famed muralist, Siqueiros. Some of this will be unpalatable to United States' readers, but the attitudes are very real factors in the intellectual life of Mexico today. Throughout, there are delightful side trips into the mysteries of Mexican cuisine, nights at the theatre, exciting days in fantastic churches, museums and markets. A closing chapter combines the author's first hand impressions with distillations from other sources to make up a compendium of information.