Carlos Fuentes Additional Biography


(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Carlos Fuentes is one of a small number of writers from Latin America whose works are recognized throughout the world. His life and work are truly international. His father was a diplomat, so Fuentes’ early life was influenced by his schooling and experiences in such capitals as Washington, D.C., Santiago, Buenos Aires, and Mexico City. He is equally fluent in Spanish and English and is familiar with the cultural life of most American and European countries. As one of Mexico’s most distinguished citizens, he has held important diplomatic positions in Europe, has lectured at major universities throughout the Western world, and has been awarded prestigious literary awards. The Old Gringo was made into a successful film and became the first novel by a Mexican writer to be included on The New York Times best-seller list.

All of his writings deal with the complexity of identifying what it means to be a Mexican. He seeks the identity of his people in the myth, legend, and history of the Aztec culture, in the traditions of the Catholic faith that the Spanish brought to the New World in the fifteenth century, and in the failed hopes of the Mexican Revolution. All these elements are included in his novel Terra Nostra.

Fuentes is also concerned with articulating Mexico’s relationship with the rest of the world. In Distant Relations, he examines the often troubled interaction between Mexican and European cultures. His most famous novel, The Old Gringo, is a study of Mexican-American relations. Christopher Unborn, his Christopher Columbus novel, is a penetrating investigation and satire of contemporary Mexico approaching the five hundredth anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. Fuentes warns of a certain fall to ruin if a reformation and a redefinition of Mexico’s basic values—as found in its myth, legend, and history—do not take place immediately.


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Carlos Fuentes (FWAYN-tays) was born on November 11, 1928, in Panama City, Panama, into a Mexican family that he later characterized as typically petit bourgeois. As the son of a career diplomat, Rafael Fuentes, and Berta Macias Rivas, Carlos Fuentes traveled frequently, attending the best schools in several of the major capitals of the Americas. He learned English at the age of four while his family was living in Washington, D.C. He graduated from high school in Mexico City and then studied law at the National University and the Institut des Hautes Études Internationales in Geneva, Switzerland.

Upon his return to Mexico, he became assistant head of the press section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1954. While he was head of the department of cultural relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he also founded and edited Revista mexicana de literatura (Mexican review of literature). He later edited or coedited the leftist journals El espectador, Siempre, and Política.

In 1954, Fuentes published a collection of short stories entitled Los días enmascarados (the masked days), his first book. He also began to devote himself to writing full time—novels, book reviews, political essays, film scripts (for Luis Buñuel, among others), and plays.

Fuentes’s first two novels reflect his social and artistic concerns at the time. La regíon más transparente (1958; Where the Air Is Clear, 1960) deals with Mexico’s social, political, and cultural problems from a loosely Marxist perspective. The book was widely read, became controversial, and established Fuentes as the leading young novelist of Mexico. Las buenas conciencias (1959; The Good Conscience, 1961) is a portrait of a bourgeois family in the provincial town of Guanajuato.

The innovative techniques of Fuentes’s first novel, Where the Air Is Clear, are more fully devloped in La muerte de Artemio Cruz (1962; The Death of Artemio Cruz, 1964). That novel portrays the Mexican Revolution and its betrayal in modern Mexican society through...

(The entire section is 878 words.)


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

In his fiction, Carlos Fuentes confronts the problems of Mexican identity through the presence of ancestral voices and indigenous mythologies. His is a view of humankind molded by history yet morally responsible for individual actions, situated in time yet responsive to eternal values. The fictional mode that he uses to express his view is Magical (symbolic) Realism, a realism that can be comprehended only through symbols.


(Literature of Developing Nations for Students)

One of Mexico's premier novelists and its foremost 'ambassador without a portfolio' (someone who utilizes his celebrity status to political...

(The entire section is 485 words.)


(Novels for Students)

Carlos Fuentes is considered one of the preeminent voices in Mexican literature in the last half of the twentieth century. He was born in...

(The entire section is 369 words.)