La hija de Rappaccini

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About the author (1990)

Octavio Paz's poetic roots are in romanticism and such neoromantics as D. H. Lawrence, but he has been profoundly influenced by Mexican Indian mythology and oriental religious philosophy, particularly Tantric Buddhism. The latter influence came about while he was serving as Mexico's ambassador to India (1962-68), when he resigned to protest the government's treatment of students demonstrating prior to the Olympic Games in Mexico City. He conceives of poetry as a way of transcending barriers of world, time, and individual self. Through poetry he seeks to achieve a state of innocence and an euphoria of the senses bordering on the mystical, and he expresses anguish when language fails him. Much of Paz's poetry is erotic, with women being the vehicle across the abyss to "the other side of the river," where union with universal consciousness is possible. This element in his poetic vision has of late left him open to acerbic feminist readings. Paz constantly experiments with form in an effort to break down the traditional forms of poetry; several of his long major works are circular and have coexisting variant readings, and Renga is a collaborative poem by poets in four languages. Poetry for Paz is necessarily in conflict with society because of its potential for transmuting and reforming it, and the poetic imagination is a valuable tool for understanding society. His essays on the Mexican character, history, and traditions, such as The Labyrinth of Solitude (1950) and The Other Mexico (1969), are fundamental to understanding Mexican society. He has also written extensively on aesthetics, poetics, and the nature of language and poetry.

Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804 in Salem, Mass. When Hawthorne was four years old, his father died. Years later, with financial help from his maternal relatives who recognized his literary talent, Hawthorne was able to enroll in Bowdoin College. Among his classmates were the important literary and political figures Horatio Bridge, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Franklin Pierce. These friends supplied Hawthorne with employment during the early years after graduation while Hawthorne was still establishing himself as a legitimate author. Hawthorne's first novel, Fanshawe, which he self-published in 1928, wasn't quite the success that he had hoped it would be. Not willing to give up, Hawthorne began writing stories for Twice-Told Tales. These stories established Hawthorne as a leading writer. In 1842, Hawthorne moved to Concord, Mass., where he wrote a number of tales, including "Rappaccini's Daughter" and "Young Goodman Brown," that were later published as Mosses from an Old Manse. The overall theme of Hawthorne's novels was a deep concern with ethical problems of sin, punishment, and atonement. No one novel demonstrated that more vividly than The Scarlet Letter. This tale about the adulterous Puritan Hester Prynne is regarded as Hawthorne's best work and is a classic of American literature. Other famous novels written by Hawthorne include The House of Seven Gables and The Blithedale Romance. In 1852, Hawthorne wrote a campaign biography of his college friend Franklin Pierce. After Pierce was elected as President of the United States, he rewarded Hawthorne with the Consulship at Liverpool, England. Hawthorne died in his sleep on May 19, 1864, while on a trip with Franklin Pierce.

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