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A Show of Heads

Carlos Fuentes, 19 March 1987

I the Supreme 
by Augusto Roa Bastos, translated by Helen Lane.
Faber, 433 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 0 571 14626 0
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... In the autumn of 1967 in London, I coincided with the Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa. We had both read, recently and with admiration, as well as a touch of envy, Edmund Wilson’s masterly portraits of the American Civil War, Patriotic Gore. Sitting in a pub in Hampstead, we thought it would be a good idea to have a comparable book on Latin America ...

Fuentes the Memorious

John Sutherland, 19 June 1986

The Old Gringo 
translated by Margaret Sayers Peden and Carlos Fuentes, by Carlos Fuentes.
Deutsch, 199 pp., £8.95, May 1986, 0 233 97862 3
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Where the air is clear 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Sam Hileman.
Deutsch, 376 pp., £4.95, June 1986, 0 233 97937 9
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Farewell to the Sea 
by Reinaldo Arenas, translated by Andrew Hurley.
Viking, 412 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 670 52960 5
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Digging up the mountains 
by Neil Bissoondath.
Deutsch, 247 pp., £8.95, May 1986, 0 233 97851 8
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... Carlos Fuentes is one of those unusual novelists who would make the International Who’s Who even if he had never written a novel. As a public man, Fuentes’s career has been directed to Mexico’s uneasy relationship with the outside world – he was Mexican Ambassador to France from 1975 to 1977 ...


Patrick Parrinder, 23 November 1989

Christopher Unborn 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Alfred MacAdam.
Deutsch, 531 pp., £13.95, October 1989, 0 233 98016 4
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The Faber Book of Contemporary Latin American Short Stories 
edited by Nick Caistor.
Faber, 188 pp., £11.99, September 1989, 0 571 15359 3
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by Gore Vidal.
Deutsch, 543 pp., £12.95, November 1989, 9780233984957
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Oldest living Confederate widow tells all 
by Allan Gurganus.
Faber, 718 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 9780571142019
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... Playboy Centerfold Contest is being held in Chicago – perhaps the one cheerful prophecy that Carlos Fuentes has to offer. Meanwhile, Chile is struck by a catastrophic earthquake, so that the whole country together with General Pinochet (who is still its leader) dissolves like a sugar lump into the sea. Nobody would choose to be born into a world ...


A.J. Ayer: More of A.J. Ayer’s Life, 22 December 1983

... it in the course of a very short visit to Dartmouth; my immediate predecessor, the Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes, for the best part of a year. I was originally invited only for the autumn term of 1982, but the invitation was extended to the winter term of 1983. We returned to London for the month of December 1982 and spent January to March back in ...

Instant Fellini

Tessa Hadley: Carlos Fuentes, 12 February 2009

Happy Families 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Edith Grossman.
Bloomsbury, 332 pp., £17.99, October 2008, 978 0 7475 9528 1
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... none of them is sufficient in itself. The scene is strange with the strangeness characteristic of Fuentes’s writing. The garage is not quite a real place, and these characters are not fleshed out and made believable according to realist conventions. But the treatment isn’t parable-like either, it doesn’t aim for the pared-down illustrative clarity of a ...


Robert Taubman, 5 August 1982

by John Barth.
Secker, 366 pp., £7.50, July 1982, 0 436 03675 4
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Distant Relations 
by Carlos Fuentes.
Secker, 225 pp., £7.95, July 1982, 0 436 16764 6
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Keepers of the House 
by Lisa St Aubin de Teran.
Cape, 183 pp., £6.95, July 1982, 0 224 02001 3
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An Old Song 
by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Wilfion Books, 102 pp., £5.95, June 1982, 0 905075 12 9
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... But fantasy, in Barth and others who have revived it recently, is not a substitute for life. In Carlos Fuentes it seems nothing but a substitute. His model is literature – and of the most depressing, fin-de-siècle kind. Distant Relations asks to be admired for the quality of its settings (Toltec ruins in Mexico, Gabriel’s pavillon on the Place de ...

Clean Sweep

Philip Horne, 10 May 1990

Love and Garbage 
by Ivan Klima, translated by Ewald Osers.
Chatto, 217 pp., £12.95, March 1990, 0 7011 3362 7
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The Storyteller 
by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated by Helen Lane.
Faber, 246 pp., £12.99, April 1990, 0 571 15208 2
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The Chase 
by Alejo Carpentier, translated by Alfred Mac Adam.
Deutsch, 122 pp., £9.95, March 1990, 0 233 98550 6
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by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Lysander Kemp.
Deutsch, 88 pp., £9.95, April 1990, 0 233 98470 4
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... The Chase, published in Spanish in 1956 and now translated, is elaborately hailed on the back by Carlos Fuentes as the work of the inventor of ‘magical realism’, ‘our father’. It certainly has, like Fuentes’s own 1965 Aura, a seriously ‘literary side’. Its highly-worked, modernistic formal experiments ...

Closer to God

Adam Bradbury, 14 May 1992

1492: The Life and Times of Juan Cabezon of Castile 
by Homero Aridjis, translated by Betty Ferber.
Deutsch, 284 pp., £14.99, October 1991, 0 233 98727 4
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The Campaign 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Alfred MacAdam.
Deutsch, 246 pp., £14.99, November 1991, 0 233 98726 6
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The Penguin Book of Latin American Short Stories 
edited by Thomas Colchie.
Viking, 448 pp., £15.99, January 1992, 0 670 84299 0
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... literature will be great because it’s literature, not because it’s Mexican,’ yelled Angel in Carlos Fuentes’s magnificent dystopia, Christopher Unborn. We may be on dodgy ground, then, lumping together two Mexican novels – one about the South American uprising of 1810 and one about the expulsion of the Jews from Spain at the end of the 15th ...

Heartlessness is not enough

Graham Hough, 21 May 1981

Loitering with Intent 
by Muriel Spark.
Bodley Head, 221 pp., £6.50, May 1981, 0 370 30900 6
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Burnt Water 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Margaret Peden.
Secker, 231 pp., £6.50, January 1981, 0 436 16763 8
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The Leaves on Grey 
by Desmond Hogan.
Picador, 119 pp., £1.50, April 1981, 0 330 26287 4
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Children of Lir 
by Desmond Hogan.
Hamish Hamilton, 136 pp., £6.95, April 1981, 0 241 10608 7
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Walking naked 
by Nina Bawden.
Macmillan, 220 pp., £5.95, April 1981, 0 333 31304 6
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... and failures of conviction, that are subtly unfamiliar to the rest of the Western world. Carlos Fuentes, still only 53, has written film-scripts for Buñuel, besides a large body of fiction and essays. To the outside world he is the outstanding figure in contemporary Mexican letters, a bitter critic and interpreter of the history and fate of his ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Dictator’, 7 June 2012

The Dictator 
directed by Larry Charles.
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... of the Patriarch is no doubt the most famous instance. When it was learned that the remains of Carlos Fuentes, who died last month, were to be taken to Montparnasse Cemetery, observers were not slow to note that Porfirio Díaz, the last Mexican despot – well, the last pre-revolutionary despot – is also buried there. The joke was not on ...

My Americas

Donald Davie, 3 September 1981

... do well to refurbish. In LRB at the end of May, Graham Hough, reviewing Burnt Water by the Mexican Carlos Fuentes,2 complained that, whereas ‘the novel today is virtually an international form,’ so that Tolstoy is still Tolstoy though ‘an English writer to the English, a German to the Germans, French to the French’, yet the Latin American novel ...


Jonathan Steele, 19 December 1985

Fire from the Mountain: The Making of a Sandinista 
by Omar Cabezas, translated by Kathleen Weaver.
Cape, 233 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 224 02814 6
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... be honest about his doubts and fears, tender and lyrical about his dreams. As the Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes puts it in his introduction, ‘there is something both Quixote and Crusoe in him, for he imagines a world and also builds it.’ Lucky is the revolutionary who survives to the moment of triumph, as Cabezas did. The knowledge that his side ...


Christine Brooke-Rose: Palimpsest Histories, 10 May 1990

... century and thoroughly renewed the dying art of the novel: Terra Nostra (1976), by the Mexican Carlos Fuentes, is another great example. Some have called this development ‘magic realism’. I prefer to call it palimpsest history. First I want to distinguish between various kinds of fictional histories: 1. the realistic historical novel, about which ...


Rubén Gallo: Mexico’s Shadow Presidency, 25 January 2007

... who criticised him. He didn’t like to hear his supporters disagree with him on anything.’ Carlos Fuentes, the country’s most famous novelist, was another early supporter who quickly distanced himself. Writing in Le Monde in October, Fuentes warned that López Obrador’s actions after the elections were a ...

Creole Zones

Benedict Anderson, 7 November 1991

The First Americans: The Spanish Monarchy, Creole Patriots, and the Liberal State, 1492-1867 
by D.A. Brading.
Cambridge, 761 pp., £55, March 1991, 9780521391306
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... for administrative offices. Not until the later 18th century, when the ‘enlightened’ Borbon Carlos III, strapped for cash, turned on successive sectors of the Church, did true private property in land become the norm. The second basic factor shaping Spanish creoledom was that its most important early centres were in today’s Mexico, Ecuador and ...

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