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On Octavio Paz and Marie-José Tramini

Homero Aridjis, translated by Chloe Aridjis, 21 November 2019

... One afternoon in June 1962 Octavio Paz and I, until then only acquainted through letters, met at the studio of the painter Juan Soriano in Mexico City. From there we went walking down Paseo de la Reforma, and he told me he had just been appointed ambassador to India, Ceylon and Pakistan. He had accepted, reluctantly, because of the scant job opportunities in Mexico ...

Spanish Practices

Edwin Williamson, 18 May 1989

Collected Poems 1957-1987 
by Octavio Paz, edited by Eliot Weinberger.
Carcanet, 669 pp., £25, October 1988, 0 85635 787 1
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Sor Juana: Her Life and her World 
by Octavio Paz, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden.
Faber, 547 pp., £27.50, November 1988, 0 571 15399 2
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ASor Juana Anthology 
translated by Alan Trueblood, with a foreword by Octavio Paz.
Harvard, 248 pp., £23.95, September 1988, 0 674 82120 3
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... Octavio Paz occupies a unique position in the Spanish-speaking world. He is the foremost living poet of the language as well as being one of the most authoritative interpreters of the Hispanic situation, a pensador in the tradition of Unamuno, Ortega y Gasset, Rodo and Mariategui. Poetry, however, has always been the vital source of his ideas ...

Real isn’t real

Michael Wood: Octavio Paz, 4 July 2013

The Poems of Octavio Paz 
edited and translated by Eliot Weinberger.
New Directions, 606 pp., £30, October 2012, 978 0 8112 2043 9
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... In 1950 André Breton published a prose poem by Octavio Paz in a surrealist anthology. He thought one line in the work was rather weak and asked Paz to remove it. Paz agreed about the line but was a little puzzled by the possibility of such a judgment on Breton’s part ...


Christopher Reid, 15 May 1980

by Octavio Paz, Jacques Roubaud, Edoardo Sanguineti and Charles Tomlinson.
Penguin, 95 pp., £1.95, November 1979, 0 14 042268 4
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Kites in Spring 
by John Hewitt.
Blackstaff, 63 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 0 85640 206 0
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The Island Normal 
by Brian Jones.
Carcanet, 91 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 9780856353406
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New Poetry 5 
edited by Peter Redgrove and Jon Silkin.
Hutchinson, 163 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 09 139570 4
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... important part of the Surrealist campaign. The Renga composed in Paris more than ten years ago by Octavio Paz, Jacques Roubaud, Edoardo Sanguineti and Charles Tomlinson has recently been published here. This work, the result of five days’ collaboration in the basement of the Hôtel St Simon on the left Bank, has both oriental and occidental ...


Hugh Thomas: In Mexico, 2 June 1988

... the Zocalo had been disproportionate to the offence. But I can quite understand it. The Mexicans, Octavio Paz once wrote, believe in two things: Our Lady of Guadalupe and the National Lottery. Mexico is a profoundly Christian country, 95 per cent of the population telling the Census-makers that they are Catholics. Yet the Church has no official power or ...


Claude Rawson, 17 June 1982

St Kilda’s Parliament 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 87 pp., £3, September 1981, 0 571 11770 8
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Airborn/Hijos del Aire 
by Octavio Paz and Charles Tomlinson.
Anvil, 29 pp., £1.25, April 1981, 0 85646 072 9
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The Flood 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 55 pp., £3.95, June 1981, 0 19 211944 3
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Looking into the Deep End 
by David Sweetman.
Faber, 47 pp., £3, March 1981, 0 571 11730 9
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by Andrew Motion.
Salamander, 28 pp., £5, December 1981, 0 907540 05 8
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... and sensitive gifts embarrassed by a strange sporadic uneasiness. Charles Tomlinson and Octavio Paz collaborated in producing ‘the first Western renga’, a Japanese name for a poem by several poets writing alternating parts. That first experiment was quadrilingual, and Airborn is a bilingual variant ‘in slow motion’: alternating sections ...

Little Viper

Lorna Scott Fox: Mario Vargas Llosa, 17 September 1998

TheNotebooks of Don Rigoberto 
by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated by Edith Grossman.
Faber, 259 pp., £15.99, July 1998, 0 571 19309 9
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... loyalty to Castro after the show-trial of the Cuban poet Heberto Padilla in 1971. And Octavio Paz forced many readers to make an awkward distinction between his political views and his writing when, late in life and in the name of order, he became a member of the putrid Mexican Institutional Revolutionary Party. ...

Show us your corpses

Sam Miller, 13 June 1991

... hide from it, or to give it much of a metaphysical meaning. A contrast with the West, where, says Octavio Paz, the word ‘death’ burns the lips. On my second visit to Chittagong, I drove past the slum where eight hundred people had died to a place on the beach where dead bodies were still being washed up. The police kept burying them but more kept ...

Dying for Madame Ocampo

Daniel Waissbein, 3 March 1988

‘Sur’: A Study of the Argentine Literary Journal and its Role in the Development of a Culture, 1931-1970 
by John King.
Cambridge, 232 pp., £27.50, December 1986, 0 521 26849 4
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... traditionally Hispanic and Catholic societies, such as Colombia or Mexico, than in the Argentine. Octavio Paz, one of the few exceptions in that his name appeared regularly among the magazine’s contributors, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, have spoken appreciatively of the journal’s importance for themselves and their friends. As regards Sur’s role in ...

The Everyday Business of Translation

George Steiner, 22 November 1979

The True Interpreter 
by Louis Kelly.
Blackwell, 282 pp., £15
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... as well as in poetics, the study and practice of translation occupies a pivotal place. Ours is, as Octavio Paz has put it, ‘a culture of and in translation’, a world of continuous metamorphic transfers of meaning. This prominence has redirected scholarship to the history of the subject. Noting, with the authority of self-evidence, that from the Roman ...

Moths of Ill Omen

Malcolm Deas, 30 October 1997

News of a Kidnapping 
by Gabriel García Márquez, translated by Edith Grossman.
Cape, 291 pp., £16.99, July 1997, 0 224 05002 8
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Chapolas Negras 
by Fernando Vallejo.
Alfaguara, 262 pp., £15, March 1996, 958 24 0283 0
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José Asunción Silva: Obra Completa 
edited by Hector Orjuela.
Unesco/Casa de la Poesía Silva, 747 pp., £40, April 1996, 84 89666 06 7
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... pigeons on his Mexico City balcony, by random local speculations: ‘I’ll have to go and ask Octavio Paz, who knows absolutely everything, what exactly the cotillon was; perhaps he could dance me a few steps.’ The result is a very funny book, something far from usual in the Spanish-speaking world. Impatient of the formalities and pomposities of ...

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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... mixed up in that, since being a writer has seemed also to entail being a public man: Fuentes and Octavio Paz have both had careers in diplomacy. The subject at the heart of the collection is the recent past of Mexico City (though some stories are set in the provinces): the scene, from the 1930s onwards, of a dynamic, shape-shifting, erotically charged ...

Sounds like hell to me

Michael Wood, 13 November 1997

Duchamp: A Biography 
by Calvin Tomkins.
Chatto, 350 pp., £25, April 1997, 0 7011 6642 8
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The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp 
by Arturo Schwartz.
Thames and Hudson, 292 pp., £145, September 1997, 0 500 09250 8
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... swishing, clanking effect of this long metallic figure shown as if in blurred multiple exposure. Octavio Paz says it looks less like armour than like coachwork or a fuselage. Early critics, quoted by Seigel, said it was like ‘a lot of disused golf clubs and bags’, ‘an assortment of half-made leather saddles’, ‘an elevated railroad stairway in ...

Little Lame Balloonman

August Kleinzahler: E.E. Cummings, 9 October 2014

E.E. Cummings: The Complete Poems, 1904-62 
edited by George James Firmage.
Liveright, 1102 pp., £36, September 2013, 978 0 87140 710 8
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E.E. Cummings: A Life 
by Susan Cheever.
Pantheon, 209 pp., £16, February 2014, 978 0 307 37997 9
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... who sang his praises, but other, very different kinds of poet too: Robert Graves, Dylan Thomas, Octavio Paz, Louis Zukofsky and Charles Olson. As did any number of critics: Edmund Wilson, Harry Levin, Jacques Barzun, Lionel Trilling, Guy Davenport. Were all of them hornswoggled, taken in by the surface polish and acrobatics of Cummings’s style ...


Harry Mathews, 28 November 1996

The Private Worlds of Marcel Duchamp: Desire, Liberation and the Self in Modern Culture 
by Jerrold Seigel.
California, 291 pp., £28, September 1996, 0 520 20038 1
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... estrangement. Although the notion that Duchamp’s works are autobiographical is not new – Octavio Paz, for one, said that ‘each one of his paintings is a symbolical self-portrait’ – Seigel authoritatively defines a tradition into which the artist’s self-portrayal naturally fits. He discusses an essential question: how, when an inherited ...

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