Carlos Fuentes Biography

Carlos Fuentes Biography

Carlos Fuentes is arguably Mexico’s most prolific and important author. He published his first novel, La Región Mas Transparente, when he was just twenty-eight years old. The novel featured Mexico City and delved into Mexican culture. A self-described “premodern” writer who prefers paper and pen to a word processor, Fuentes experiments with various narrative styles and is known for his exploration of society, identity, and history. In 1967, he began writing a series of Latin American biographies that was never completed. American audiences know Fuentes best for his novel Gringo Viejo, which was made into the 1989 film Old Gringo starring Gregory Peck and Jane Fonda.

Facts and Trivia

  • In 1965, Fuentes became a diplomat like his parents. At one point, he was ambassador to France, but he resigned in protest over another ambassador’s appointment.
  • Fuentes’s 1994 novel Diana, The Goddess Who Hunts Alone fictionalized his affair with American actress Jean Seberg. There are many who doubt that he actually had an affair with her.
  • Fuentes wrote for the Spanish newspapers El Pais and Reforma. He has also taught courses at several prestigious colleges including Brown, Harvard, and Princeton.
  • Gringo Viejo has the distinction of being the first American best seller written by a Mexican author.
  • Fuentes is also famous (or perhaps infamous) for his philandering. He was married to actress Rita Macedo for fourteen years, but his many affairs ruined their marriage.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Carlos Fuentes (FWAYN-tays) gained international recognition as a significant writer associated with the so-called boom period in Latin American literature, and he came to be regarded by many as Mexico’s foremost novelist in the twentieth century. The son of a career diplomat, Rafael Fuentes, and Berta Macias Rivas, Carlos Fuentes grew up in many different countries and attended excellent schools in several of the major capitals of the Americas. He learned English at the age of four while living in Washington, D.C., and for a time he lived in Santiago, Chile, and in Buenos Aires, before returning to study law at the University of Mexico. He also spent some time at the Institut des Hautes Études Internationales in Geneva.

From 1950 to 1952 Fuentes was a member of the Mexican delegation to the International Labor Organization in Geneva. Upon his return to Mexico in 1954 he became assistant head of the press section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and from 1955 to 1956 he served in a similar capacity at the University of Mexico. During much of the time that he was head of the department of cultural relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from1957 to 1959, he was also editor of Revista mexicana de literatura; he later edited and coedited the leftist journals El espectador, Siempre, and Politica. After 1959 he devoted himself to writing novels, book reviews, political essays, film scripts, and plays. From 1975 to 1977 he served as Mexico’s ambassador to France. Fuentes was married to the well-known Mexican actress Rita Macedo in 1959, with whom he had a daughter. The marriage ended in divorce in 1969, and in 1973 he married Sylvia Lemus, with whom he had a son and a daughter.

Fundamentally a realist, Fuentes’s search for the quintessence of Mexican reality often led him to its mythological roots. Yet for him Mexico’s Aztec, Christian, or revolutionary past is not merely a literary theme but a powerful force to be reckoned with in representing society. The principal concern of...

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(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Carlos Fuentes was born into a Mexican family that he later characterized as typically petit bourgeois. Son of Rafael Fuentes, a career diplomat, and Berta Macias Rivas, Carlos traveled frequently and attended the best schools in several of the major capitals of the Americas. He learned English at the age of four while living in Washington, D.C. After he was graduated from high school in Mexico City, he studied law at the National University and the Institut des Hautes Études Internationales in Geneva, Switzerland. Fuentes also lived in Santiago, Chile, and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

From 1950 to 1952, Fuentes was a member of the Mexican delegation to the International Labor Organization in Geneva. Upon his return to...

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(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Even though Carlos Fuentes has described himself as a product of “petit bourgeois stock,” there is nothing common about him. His father was a diplomat, an attaché to the Mexican legation, when he was born. At the age of four, Fuentes learned English in Washington, D.C., where his father served at the Mexican embassy. Oddly enough, the dawning of Fuentes’s consciousness of Mexico occurred in the United States. He credits his father with having created a fantasy of his homeland, a “non-existent country invented in order to nourish the imagination of yet another land of fiction, a land of Oz with a green cactus road.” As a teenager, Fuentes began to travel on his own. He studied the politics, economics, and society of Spanish America, and he developed a sympathy for socialism that he has fervently maintained ever since. Fuentes’s interest in socialism blossomed in Chile, especially after he learned about Pablo Neruda, whose poetry had already become the anthem of the working person.

While living in Santiago, Fuentes attended The Grange, the Chilean capital’s bilingual British school, where he cultivated an appreciation of classical and modern writers. While enrolled there, he began to think about becoming a writer, he has recalled, in order to “show himself that his Mexican identity was real.” He started to read the Spanish masters of the Golden Age, and he contributed short stories, written in Spanish, to school magazines. After a...

(The entire section is 545 words.)