Critical Context

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Since Fuentes is so prolific, several of his shorter works, such as Las buenas conciencias (1959; The Good Conscience, 1961) and Cumpleaños (1970; birthday), are often overshadowed. Perhaps because it was first published the same year as his vaster and more baroque Cambio de piel (1967; A Change of Skin, 1968) and lacks the compelling combination of epic sweep and psychological introspection of La muerte de Artemio Cruz (1962; The Death of Artemio Cruz, 1964) or the monumental historical scope of Terra Nostra (1975; English translation, 1976), Holy Place has received relatively little critical attention. It is, nevertheless, a solidly representative item in the Fuentes canon. In consonance with his fellow countryman Octavio Paz’s landmark volume of essays El laberinto de la soledad (1950; The Labyrinth of Solitude, 1961), Fuentes continues to probe the Mexican national psyche. The possibility of temporal models beyond that of the simple line, and the pervasive presence of ancient indigenous beliefs and structures in a counterfeit of contemporary Western society, are two more of his most characteristic themes. Noteworthy, too, in Holy Place is the introduction of figures and attitudes of contemporary mass culture, especially film, an enduring motif which the author takes up also in A Change of Skin and again in his later novel La cabeza de la hidra (1978;...

(The entire section is 608 words.)