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The Enduring Relevance of Octavio Paz’s “El Laberinto De La Soledad”

El Laberinto De La Soledad is a book by Mexican Octavio Paz that was published in 1950. In this book, Octavio talked about many things about Mexican cultures. One of them is the duality of cultures; one is the native, the other is the Spanish. Also, the duality of identity for Mexican immigrants. He talked about Mexican immigrants in the US who try to blend in with their foreign cultures while maintaining their original ones.

Octavio talked about The Pachucos, who did not fit the American nor the Mexican culture and created their own hybrid identity. Octavio said about them, “La irritación del norteamericano procede, a mi juicio, de que ve en el pachuco un ser mítico y por lo tanto virtualmente peligroso. Su peligrosidad brota de su singularidad.” and “Figura portadora del amor y la dicha o del horror y la abominación, el pachuco parece encarnar la libertad, el desorden, lo prohibido.” The book continues to talk about the Mexican identity and issues facing their culture.

My reaction to the book is that it seems relevant to Mexico today. The book was published in 1950, but 70 years later and everything Octavio said can be applied to Mexico today. While there is so much influence of American and European cultures on Mexico, they can still keep many indigenous cultures alive and practice even in large metropolitan cities. One of them is Día de Muertos, which has been increased in popularity in Mexico, the US, worldwide, and even in the United Arab Emirates.

Day of the Dead is one one of their many festivals, in some communities they can be as much as monthly public ones. In this regard Octavio said, “EL SOLITARIO mexicano ama las fiestas y las reuniones públicas. Todo es ocasión para reunirse. Cualquier pretexto es bueno para interrumpir la marcha del tiempo y celebrar con festejos y ceremonias hombres y acontecimientos.”

Octavio Paz Lozano (March 31, 1914 – April 19, 1998) was a Mexican poet and diplomat. For his work, he was awarded the 1981 Miguel de Cervantes Prize, the 1982 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, and the 1990 Nobel Prize in Literature.


Further Reading
Octavio Paz – Instituto Cervantes
Octavio Paz – Nobel Prize
Octavio Paz, poeta y ensayista de trascendencia universal

Buy the Book
The Labyrinth of Solitude – English
El Laberinto de la Soledad – Spanish

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