Carlos Fuentes: Passing On

Many obituaries for Mexico’s famed novelist and social critic, Carlos Fuentes. Here is what the Washington Post writes.

Mr. Fuentes was a prolific writer into his 70s and 80s, remaining adamant that words should never simply delight but should challenge or even exasperate.

“I believe in books that do not go to a ready-made public,” Mr. Fuentes told The Washington Post in 1988. “I’m looking for readers I would like to make. To win them, to create readers rather than to give something that readers are expecting. That would bore me to death.”

He was almost as well known for his unstoppable flow of opinion on Mexican and American politics as for his creative writing. In the Cold War era of uprisings, revolutions and political turmoil, Mr. Fuentes became one of Latin America’s most visible left-wing artists of conscience.

In a 1983 Harvard commencement speech, Mr. Fuentes admonished the United States for its “brutal diplomacy” in Nicaragua while President Reagan’s secretary of defense, Caspar Weinberger, was sitting in the front row. The author had been a longtime supporter of the left-wing Sandinista government, which the United States tried to overthrow with help from the rebels known as the contras.

“You must demonstrate your humanity and your intelligence here in this house we share, our hemisphere,” Mr. Fuentes asserted in his Harvard speech, “or nowhere shall you be democratically credible.”

Within Mexico, he was often the target of printed attacks from peers and literary critics angered by the declarations made by an expert on Mexico who lived mostly outside the country. (“The language of Mexicans springs from abysmal extremes of power and impotence, domination and resentment,” he once wrote.)

The most scathing volley was fired by Mexican historian Enrique Krauze in a 1988 article about Mr. Fuentes titled “The Guerrilla Dandy.”

Arguing that Mr. Fuentes was “a foreigner in his own country” who “claimed credentials that he does not have” and used Mexico as a “theme” to further his career abroad, Krauze declared that his writings about the country were simplistic, “frivolous” and “all too often, false.”

The article caused a scandal, in part, because many readers interpreted it as an effort to oust Mr. Fuentes from serious consideration for the Nobel Prize for literature. The article was published in the New Republic and Vuelta, a magazine edited by Krauze’s mentor, the eminent Mexican poet and critic Octavio Paz.

After it was published, Paz and Mr. Fuentes, who had been friends for almost 40 years, never spoke again. Mr. Fuentes later brushed off the affair when speaking to New York Magazine. “I love having critics for breakfast,” he said. “I’ve been having them for 30 years in Mexico — just eating them like chicken, then throwing the bones away.”

forwarded by Bob W….

 

   Remembrances from Mexico [in Spanish] Noticias , El Universal [on scene at hospital], and Reforma [needs registration to go beyond front page.]

 

 

Books in publication.

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