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Collected Poems 1957-87

Octavio Paz

Edited by Eliot Weinberger

Cover Picture of Collected Poems 1957-87
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ISBN: 978 1 857545 69 2
Categories: Latin American
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: August 2001
215 x 130 x 38 mm
220 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: Paperback, Hardback
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  • The year's doors open
    like those of language,
    toward the unknown.
    Last night you told me

    we shall have to think up signs,
    sketch a landscape, fabricate a plan
    on the double page
    of day and paper

                       from 'January First', translated by Elizabeth Bishop

    When Octavio Paz (1914-1998) died, Mexico lost a tribe of writers. He was many poets, from the surrealist disciple of André Breton to the admiring imitator of Alexander Pope; now a radical experimentalist, now an autobiographer and confessional writer. A social critic, his work went through several phases of integrity. Unlike Orwell, he had a highly developed interest in the erotic, and devised verse and prose styles for dealing with it. He was a philosopher, translator, essayist and a brilliant editor, urgently alive in and to his time. He never stood, or wished to stand, on his dignity, and that was his authentic dignity.

    As a young Marxist he went to Yucatan to help organise schools for the sisal workers' children, and then to Spain in 1937, sponsored by Pablo Neruda. Spain began to unravel his illusions.'What we wanted we wanted without innocence,' a poem confesses. He made contrary marks on history. Acting against the excesses of his own government in 1968, at the time of the Olympic Massacre in Mexico City, he renounced his ambassadorship in New Delhi and became a focus of opposition. Twenty years before, he published and analysed news of the Soviet labour camps, turning left-leaning Latin American writers virulently against him.

    European by inclination, he brought unanticipated forms and tonalities into Spanish. He could write a poetry of argument when he wished, though his most popular work is enactive. He was Voltaire and de Sade.
    Octavio Paz
    Octavio Paz (1914–1998) was a prolific Mexican poet and essayist. He studied at the University of California at Berkeley for two years before entering the Mexican diplomatic service, from which he resigned in protest against his government’s massacre of student demonstrators before the Olympic Games in 1968. His postings took him ... read more
    Eliot Weinberger
    Eliot Weinberger ’s first study of multiple Chinese translations was the perennially popular 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei (1987). His essays are collected in Works on Paper, Outside Stories and Karmic Traces . Among his many translations are The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz 1957–1987, Bei Dao’s ... read more
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