The other voice: essays on modern poetry

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Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991 - Literary Criticism - 160 pages
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In seven elegant essays that range across centuries and literature, the 1990 Nobel Laureate offers his thoughts on how modern poetry came to be, what makes it" modern, " and what it may become. With grace and authority Paz explores Romanticism, Symbolism, and Surrealism and defines the role epic and allegorical poems have played in our collective history. Paz ultimately extols poetry for its humanizing, healing quality - "Between revolution and religion, poetry is the "other" voice...because it is the voice of the passions and of visions" - and in doing so reveals much about himself, poet, modernist, visionary.

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THE OTHER VOICE: Essays on Modern Poetry

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Much here is a reiteration of ideas and points Paz has made before more freshly—about the disastrous modernist penchant for utopian revolution, about the term ``post-modern'' (``merely a naive way of ... Read full review

The other voice: essays on modern poetry

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In these seven essays, written from 1976 to 1989 and first collected in Spanish in 1990, Nobel Prize-winner and outstanding Mexican poet and critic Paz continues the ideas set forth in his earlier ... Read full review


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About the author (1991)

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.

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