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When Octavio Paz died, Mexico lost a tribe of writers. He was a surrealist disciple of Andre Breton, an admiring imitator of Alexander Pope; now a radical experimentalist, now an autobiographer and confessional writer. European by inclination, he brought unanticipated tonalities into Spanish.
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Paz was born in Mexico City in 1914. His grandfather was a well-known journalist and writer who fought against the French; his father, a lawyer Zapata in the United States and was one of the architects of agragian reforms. His mother's family was purely Spanish, emigrants for Andalusia. Paz began publishing poetry in 1931, at the age of seventeen, in a magazine he founded with a group of young poets, 'Barandal'. Two years later he published his first book, 'Luna Silvestre', and founded abother short-lived magazine, Cuadernos del Valle de Mexico'. Having spent many years campaigning against Fascism and immersing himself in the Franco-Spanish literary community, Paz went to the US on a Guggenheim fellowship and lived in New York and San Francisco. The 1940s and '50s proved his most prolific period, during which he published 'The Labyrinth of Solitude'(1950), 'Aguila o sol?'(1951), 'Semillas para un himno'and 'El arco y la lira'(1956). In 1962 he was appointed the Mexican Ambassador to India, where he met and married Marie-Jose Tramini and began his studies of Indian art and philosophy. In the following years Paz taught at Cambridge University, the University of Texas, and Harvard. In 1971 he returned to Mexico and founded 'Vuelta', which remains the leading cultural and political magazine in Latin America today. Throughout his career Paz published numerous magazines, poetry collections and books of essays. During the 1980s, he continued to lecture and read his work around the world, edited 'Vuelta', and appeared regularly on Mexican television. He died in 1998.
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