The Labyrinth of Solitudeby Octavio Paz
Octavio Paz has long been acknowledged as Mexico's foremost writer and critic. In this international classic, Paz has written one of the most enduring and powerful works ever created on Mexico and its people, character, and culture. Compared to Ortega y Gasset's The Revolt of the Masses for its trenchant analysis, this collection contains his most famous work, "The Labyrinth of Solitude," a beautifully written and deeply felt discourse on Mexico's quest for identity that gives us an unequaled look at the country hidden behind "the mask." Also included are "The Other Mexico," "Return to the Labyrinth of Solitude," "Mexico and the United States," and "The Philanthropic Ogre," all of which develop the themes of the title essay and extend his penetrating commentary to the United States and Latin America. Winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize for Literature, and past recipient of the Jerusalem Prize, the Frankfurt Peace Prize, and the Neustadt Prize, Octavio Paz is the author of more than twenty-five books of poetry and prose. In addition to being a poet, essayist, playwright, social philosopher, and critic, he has also served as a Mexican diplomat in France and Japan, and as Mexican ambassador to India.
- Penguin Books, Limited (UK)
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A very profound book, yet it is not pretentious. Unlike other authors, Octavio Paz reaches and delivers to us both style and substance in this great book.
Octavio Paz wrote the definitive sociological book that deciphered the Mexican character. He correctly diagnosed that, in fact, the Mexican was stuck in a labyrinth and condemned to find a way out, and in many respects is still trying to find that way out. He understood that he would receive harsh criticism and he did. However, he stayed true to his calling as a man of letters and delivered a book that must indeed be read by anyone wanting to understand the make-up of the Mexican or the serious scholar searching for understanding in the field of Mexican history. I strongly and without reservation recommend this book, it will change your outlook on this important country and most importantly on the inhabitants and descendants of it forever.
This is one of the best (if not the best) books on the Mexican character ever written. Besides including Ridings wonderful insights which help further illuminate Paz's classic work, the book also has literary appeal, fine poetry and clear translations. I first heard of this book when reading Michael Hogan's insightful 'Mexican Mornings' which contains, among other things, Paz's delightfully humorous analysis of the verb 'chingar' and all its permutations. This is a book to keep on your shelf for a long, long time. If you lend it out, make sure they sign in blood.