Sunday, May 25, 2014

La Vuelta Podcast: Ilan Stavans on the life and legacy of Octavio Paz

When the Nobel Prize-winner Octavio Paz died in 1998, he was one of the most prominent public intellectuals in all of Latin America and certainly the most famous and celebrated one in Mexico.  His work as a poet, essayist, critic, publisher and diplomat gave him remarkable access and freedom to chronicle the changes that took place in Mexico during the 20th Century.  But his career was also marked by streaks of imperiousness and self-regard that alienated many fellow writers and intimidated a generation or more of Mexican writers who labored in his enormous shadow.  
Octavio Paz (Photo courtesy of El Universal)
As we mark the centennial of Paz's birth and in order to better understand his legacy in Mexico and throughout Latin America, we spoke to Ilan Stavans, whose book, Octavio Paz: A Meditation, (University of Arizona Press, 2002) examined not only Paz's contributions to Latin American literature but the ways in which Paz served as a bridge between Latin America and the world of letters in Europe and the United States.