The New Edge of Cedar Mesa

Donegal Descendant

Donegal Descendant
December 04
As of December 1, 2012 I will also be posting on Our Salon. Note that I am unable to open any pm's I receive due to software dysfunction here.


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MAY 15, 2012 8:06PM

Carlos Fuentes, 1928-2012

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Mexico’s most acclaimed writer, Carlos Fuentes, died today at age 83. He was a classic “man of letters,” producing distinguished novels, short stories, literary essays, political essays, newspaper columns, and plays. Like many of Latin America’s most distinguished writers, he also had a career as a diplomat, serving as Mexico’s ambassador to Britain and later to France.

He played a major role in stimulating “el boom”  in worldwide acclaim for a generation of Latin American writers that included Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortazar, Jorge Amado,  Alejo Carpentier and dozens of others who found their work being translated into twenty or thirty languages and gaining a worldwide readership.Unlike Garcia Marquez and Vargas Llosa, Fuentes never won the Nobel Prize for Literautre, but he won every conceivable literary award within the Spanish-speaking world.

Like many Latin American writers, he seamlessly united art and politics in his writings, especially in such inventive novels as The Death of Artemio Cruz. I didn’t read all his works but that one made an impression on that I’ve never forgotten. So did the short, haunting Aura and The Old Gringo, which I think was a much better novel than a movie. (The movie drained the character based on Ambrose Bierce of all his savage wit and sardonic irony, and left him just a soured cynic, I thought. I say that as someone usually a fan of Gregory Peck).

I saw and heard Carlos Fuentes once. It was in Albuquerque, perhaps in December 1979, probably on the UNM campus—I only clearly remember the two friends I went with that evening. I had never seen a photo of him and was surprised to see this tall, very urbane-looking professor of Spanish Literature with trimmed mustache, blue blazer, regimental tie, and grey slacks. He had the distinguished touch of grey about the temples and those oversized horn-rimmed glasses favored by middle-class Latin American men. Somehow I’d expected some shaggy, beret’d bohemian. His massive work Terra Nostra, which I’ve never dared tackle, was his most recent work and he discussed La Celestina, Quixote, and Hamlet as “interpenetrating archetypes” that were endlessly reinterpreted and revised as cultures evolved and interacted.

His political observations on the U.S.-created and funded Contra War in Nicaragua was a refreshing and enlightening change from the opacity of the U.S. mainstream media.  His reflections on Mexican relations with the U.S. were never dogmatic or predictable, but always insightful and revealing of the complexities and contradictions of that troubled but inescapable linkage between the two countries and cultures. He always seemed to be calling attention to significant aspects others ignored.

He seemed to me to  be the kind of Man of Letters rarely seen in the world anymore. It is our loss. In his words he always used a rapier not a sledgehammer--elegant and stylish, but sharp and penetrating in his analyses and reflections. I shall miss him. I think the world will miss him. Fortunately we have his legacy in the works he created and has now left behind.

Que descansa en paz.   


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Nice tribute Donegal. While I've read some of the other Latin American authors you cite, I've never gotten around to Fuentes. It sounds like that lecture would have been interesting. Thanks for the write-up.
Thanks for posting this. It's sad that so little of this type of political fiction is rarely picked up by US publishers.
Thanks, Donegal. I wound up writing my own tribute, too. Fuentes was great, wasn't he? R.
Like Abrawang I never got around to reading Fuentes, thanks for the blog; out of curiosity were you a Lobo (I was until spring 1972)
I had not known of his passing. a fine writer who also reminded us of the depth of culture throughout Latin America.
How sad to learn Fuentes has passed away but he was a beloved gentleman who lived a good life and touched millions. How I loved Aura! Once I read the Latin authors, who are on the vanguard of world literature, books by old white guys didn't do it for me anymore.
Fine tribute, Donegal. Thank you.
He was a very distinguished looking man and thinker. His passing is a loss, but as you stated, we fortunately have a rich legacy left by him. Thank you for this tribute, Donegal. I learned more about Fuentes and wish I could have heard him talk like you did.
Thanks to all who read and commented. I hope noting his passing arouses some to explore the marvelous world of Latin American literature. It's an amazing treasure-trove and has never been more accessible in various translations: Borges, Asturias, Donoso, Cortazar, Garica Marquez, Carpentier, Vargas Llosa, Jorge Amado, and so many, many more!
Garcia Marques is my favorite, Lorca and Neruda as well, but Fuentes is in a class of his own... I only wish I had enough Spanish to read them en Espanol.
Donegal,I did not know of his death.An excellent tribute and after that I searched and found that "..In his obituary, the New York Times described him as "one of the most admired writers in the Spanish-speaking world" and an important influence on "El Boom", the "explosion of Latin American literature in the 1960s and '70s", while The Guardian called him "Mexico's most celebrated novelist".Mexican President Felipe Calderón wrote on Twitter, "I am profoundly sorry for the death of our loved and admired Carlos Fuentes, writer and universal Mexican. Rest in peace." Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa stated, "with him, we lose a writer whose work and whose presence left a deep imprint". French President François Hollande called Fuentes "a great friend of our country" and stated that Fuentes had "defended with ardour a simple and dignified idea of humanity". Salman Rushdie tweeted "RIP Carlos my friend."
Fuentes received a state funeral on May 16, with his funeral cortege briefly stopping traffic in Mexico City. The ceremony was held in the Palacio de Bellas Artes and was attended by President Calderón"".(by wikiρedia).

Thank you for sharing.
Jmac, Stathi, thanks. Don't fail to read Deborah Mendez-Wilson's post on Fuentes as well.
Lovely tribute to a talented writer. How lucky for you that you were able to hear him speak. Thanks for dropping by my poem tonight so that I could find this post.
rated with love