Other literary forms

(World Poets and Poetry)

The reputation of Enrique González Martínez (gohn-SOL-ays mor-TEE-nays) rests entirely on his poetry. He was active as a journalist, and his only published fiction—three short stories—appeared in a provincial newspaper and in a magazine that he coedited early in his career. These stories show a marked influence from the naturalist movement. The first one, “Una hembra” (a female), which appeared in El heraldo de Mexico in 1895, narrates the transformation experienced by a girl of the humblest class when the illicit love affair into which she is forced by the terrible circumstances of her life results in the birth of a child. The second story, “La chiquilla” (the girl), which was published in Arte in 1907, relates the sensual awakening of a young girl being reared in the house of a priest. In the third of the stories, “A vuelo” (ringing bells)—also published in Arte, in 1908—a sick boy dies when he is unable to suppress his desire to ring his favorite bell in the church on the day of the town fiesta.

González Martínez’s acceptance speech on his admission to the Mexican Academy of Language, “Algunos aspectos de la lírica mexicana” (1932; some aspects of Mexican lyricism), examines the history of Mexican lyric poetry and draws the picture of its evolution, analyzing the best Mexican poets, pointing out weaknesses and virtues, and determining influences and trends. It has been considered one of his most refined prose pieces.

González Martínez wrote two autobiographical volumes El hombre del búho (1944; the man of the owl) and La apacible locura (1951; the peaceful madness). In these two books, written during the author’s advanced years, he recalls the most important moments and events of his life in a plain and clear style, without literary pretentiousness. Sincerity and humility are perhaps the most impressive features of these two works, in which the poet talks about his contemporaries, describes his friends, and tells of his successes and his disappointments.