Biography (Critical Survey of Poetry: World Poets)
Octavio Paz was born on March 31, 1914, in Mexico City. His mother, Josephina Lozano, was of Spanish extraction, while the family of his father, Octavio, was both Mexican and Indian. Paz was a precocious youngster, influenced by his politically active grandfather, a journalist and writer, whose twelve-thousand-volume library provided the necessary material for his intellectual development. Paz’s father was a lawyer who joined Emiliano Zapata during the 1910 Mexican Revolution and represented him in America. After secondary school, Paz studied from 1932 to 1937 at the National University of Mexico. In 1931, he founded Barandal, the first of his many journals. He also began to publish his poetry, and in 1933, Luna silvestre, his first collection, appeared; in the same year, he also founded his second journal, Cuadernos del valle de Mexico. In 1937, Paz attended a conference in Spain; after the conference, he decided to remain there for a year. His allegiance was, naturally, to the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War. In 1938, he passed through Paris, where he met Alejo Carpentier and Robert Desnos; Paz’s firsthand encounter with the Surrealists was particularly decisive, and their profound influence on his subsequent work cannot be overestimated.
In 1938, Paz returned to Mexico, where he worked with Spanish political refugees, wrote on political matters for El popular, and founded Taller. A fourth...
(The entire section is 566 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Octavio Paz (pahz) was born in Mexico City, Mexico, on March 31, 1914, the son of Octavio Paz, a mestizo, and Josephina Lozano, a woman of Spanish descent. His father, a lawyer and journalist who defended the peasant revolutionary Emiliano Zapata and helped implement agrarian reform in Mexico after the revolution, made Paz aware of social justice issues. Paz grew up in his grandfather’s house in the small village of Mixoac. His grandfather, a popular novelist, introduced Paz to literature. Paz also lived and attended school in the United States for almost two years while his father was in political exile during the Mexican Revolution.
Paz began his literary career in his late teens, publishing his first book of poems, Luna silvestre, in 1933. He reacted against the fierce nationalism dominant in Mexican culture after the revolution and allied himself with Mexican poets interested in world literature. Nonetheless, he was very concerned about Mexico’s identity and future in the revolution’s aftermath. In 1937, Paz went to Yucatán to work in a rural school, leaving behind his university studies. He did not want to be a doctor or lawyer as his family desired. He wanted to be a poet whose poetry would help to change the world.
In 1937, Paz also went to Spain in support of the Spanish Republic....
(The entire section is 952 words.)
Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Octavio Paz’s poetry champions the ecstasy that takes people beyond the tyranny of time, history, and alienation. The poet redeems his isolated individuality through a union with woman. Poetry allows the poet to experience oneness beyond time and language. Paz sees poetry as the antidote to the isolation and spiritual desolation of humankind in the modern world. The need to escape isolation and alienation is also a central theme of his acclaimed prose work, The Labyrinth of Solitude.
For Paz, writing poetry is an ethical act that contributes to the creation of a better world. Through his poetry, he seeks to liberate language, the reader, and the poet, so that all are able to experience a primal unified reality beyond the layers of dead language and alienated egos that bring so much suffering to life.
(The entire section is 136 words.)
Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
No Mexican writer did more to explore and celebrate the mysteries of Mexican life than poet and essayist Octavio Paz (pahz), considered to be the leading twentieth century interpreter of his country’s complex civilization. Paz’s poems explore life’s illusions and fragmented realities, the problem of language, the innocent individual, humankind’s loss of connection with nature and its rhythms, and the disordered, dislocated modern world. Known primarily as a poet, Paz also distinguished himself as a diplomat and essayist, delving into such areas as religion, philosophy, and politics in the course of his work.
Born into a family of intellectuals in Mexico City, Paz inherited a literary tradition through his grandfather, Irineo Paz, a newspaper publisher and novelist. His father practiced law and briefly published one of the first Spanish-language newspapers in Los Angeles, California, where the family lived for a year in the early 1920’s as political exiles. Upon returning to Mexico, his father fell victim to a political assassination and Paz, an only child, was left alone with his widowed mother.
By the 1930’s Paz had become a leading voice of a new generation of Mexican intellectuals. After completing the course of study in law at the National University, he abruptly abandoned law and Mexico,...
(The entire section is 904 words.)
Octavio Paz was born in Mexico City in 1914. His grandfather was a writer, one of the first Mexican writers to write a novel about Indians. His father was active in politics, an aide to Emiliano Zapata, a populist land reformer who led a revolution against the government; a few years of Paz’s childhood were spent in Los Angeles, to which his father was forced to flee after Zapata was killed in 1919. When the family returned to Mexico City, Paz, in his teens, began publishing poetry and short stories. He enrolled in law school but, once there, he became politically active. In the late 1930s, he went to Spain to attend a conference of leftist Latin American writers. While there, he enlisted to help in the Spanish Civil War.
After the war ended, Paz spent time in America on a Guggenheim grant, traveling as a journalist between New York and California, trying to popularize the plight of the Spanish people under the dictator Francisco Franco. His political work led him into the Mexican diplomatic service. In 1946, he was sent to France as a diplomat. Over the following twenty years, he also worked in embassies in Japan and India. Government work allowed Paz time for writing, and his literary output during this time was prodigious: in addition to poetry, he also produced volumes of essays, travel work, and other forms of writing that cannot be easily categorized. Much of his work has focused on identifying the national characteristics of his native Mexico. He...
(The entire section is 365 words.)
Paz enjoyed a distinguished career as a diplomat, playwright, essayist, and poet, and is regarded as one of the greatest writers and intellectuals of the twentieth century. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1990, the first Mexican to be so honored, in recognition of a body of work that includes more than thirty volumes of poetry and over forty prose works on subjects ranging from Mexican culture to literary theory and Eastern philosophy.
Paz was born Octavio Paz Lozano in Mexico City in the middle of the Mexican Revolution in 1914. He was raised in the small town of Mixcoac by his mother, his aunt, and his paternal grandfather, a prominent liberal intellectual and novelist. Paz came into early contact with literature in his grandfather's extensive library. His father was a journalist and lawyer who had joined the uprisings led by Emiliano Zapata, the peasant leader of Mexico's 1910-to-1920 revolution. At age sixteen Paz published his first poem and founded a literary review. Three years later he published his first book of poems, Luna silvestre (1933), and founded another literary magazine. He attended Mexico City's National Autonomous University, where he joined a Marxist student group, marking the beginning of a long involvement with leftist causes. While in college he married writer Elena Garro, a union that would last twenty years and which produced a daughter, Helena.
In 1937 Paz left his formal university studies,...
(The entire section is 944 words.)
Octavio Paz was born on March 31, 1914, in Mexico City, Mexico during the Mexican Revolution. His father, a lawyer, worked for the revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata.
Paz attended the University of Mexico from 1932–1937. Upon graduating, he traveled to Spain where he became a sympathizer with the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War.
Paz joined the Mexican Foreign Service in 1946, serving as the Mexican cultural attaché in Paris until 1951. From 1962–1968, he was the Mexican ambassador to India, but resigned this post in protest against the Mexican government firing on student demonstrators at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Paz subsequently taught as a professor in Latin American studies and literature at several prestigious universities in England and the United States, including Cambridge and Harvard.
In 1937, Paz married Elena Garro, with whom he had a daughter, and later divorced. While in India, Paz met the French woman Marie-José Tramini, whom he married in 1964.
Paz’s literary career began early with the publication of his first book of poems, Luna silvestre (Forest Moon), in 1933 at the age of 19. Throughout the next sixty-five years, he published numerous collections of essays and poetry. The Labyrinth of Solitude (1950), considered his masterpiece, is a long essay on Mexican culture and history. ¿Águila o sol? (1951; translated as Eagle or Sun?) is...
(The entire section is 306 words.)