Other literary forms
Alfonso Reyes (RAY-yays) was an essayist, short-story writer, and critic as well as a poet. Indeed, the bulk of the more than twenty volumes of his Obras completas (1955-1967; complete works)—an ongoing project undertaken by the Mexican Fondo de Cultura Económica to make accessible the seemingly inexhaustible archive of manuscripts and papers that he left behind—is criticism rather than poetry. Spanning cultures and disciplines, the breadth of his knowledge was truly astounding. His Grata compañía (1948; pleasing company), for example, includes essays on Robert Louis Stevenson, G. K. Chesterton, Marcel Proust, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, René Descartes, Jakob Burckhardt, José Maria de Eça de Queiróz, Hermann Alexander Keyserling, Graça Aranha, Leopoldo Lugones, Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo, Antonio Caso, and Pedro Henríquez Ureña. In the fourteen issues of his personal newsletter, Monterrey, sent from Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, he particularly liked to focus on the relationship of great European intellectual figures to the American experience: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and the United States, Giuseppe Garibaldi and Cuba, Ramón María del Valle-Inclán and Mexico, Luis de Góngora y Argote and New Spain, Paul Morand and Brazil, and so on.
Reyes’s masterpiece, Visión de Anáhuac (1917; Vision of Anáhuac, 1950)—its title referring to the Aztec name for the Valley of Mexico, the site of the...
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