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.


(World Poets and Poetry)

Enrique González Martínez achieved his first literary success at an early age. When he was fourteen years old, he won first prize in a contest organized by the English-Spanish newspaper of Guadalajara, The Sun, for his translation of an English poem about John Milton. Later in his life, he was an effective member of the prestigious Mexican Academy of Language, president of the Athenaeum of the Youth of Mexico, member of the Seminary of Mexican Culture, founding member of the renowned National College of Mexico, president of the organizing committee of the American Continental Congress of Peace, and a professor of language and literature at various institutions of higher education. He received the Manuel Ávila Camacho Literary Award in 1944 and was a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1949.


(World Poets and Poetry)

Brushwood, John S. Enrique González Martínez. New York: Twayne, 1969. An introductory biographical study and critical analysis of selected works by González Martínez. Includes bibliographic references.

Geist, Anthony L., and José B. Monleón, eds. Modernism and Its Margins: Reinscribing Cultural Modernity from Spain and Latin America. New York: Garland, 1999. A rereading of modernism and the modernist canon from a double distance: geographical and temporal. It is a revision not only from the periphery (Spain and Latin America), but also from this new fin de siècle, a revisiting of modernity and its cultural artifacts from that same postmodernity.

González, Aníbal. A Companion to Spanish American Modernismo. Rochester, N.Y.: Tamesis, 2007. This work covers Modernismo in various genres, including poetry. Provides context for understanding González Martínez.

Sharman, Adam. Tradition and Modernity in Spanish American Literature: From Darío to Carpentier. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. This survey examines modernism in Spanish American literature and places González Martínez in context.

Tapscott, Stephen, ed. Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996. Provides a brief analysis of the poetry of González Martínez and translations of some of his better-known poems, including “Wring the Swan’s Neck” and “Como hermana y hermano.”

Washbourne, Kelly, and Sergio Gabriel Waisman, eds. An Anthology of Spanish American Modernismo: In English Translation, with Spanish Text. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2007. Contains translations from the works of González Martínez and provides context for their understanding.