Octavio Paz (b. 1914–d. 1998) ranks among the most influential Latin American poets and intellectuals of the 20th century. Fully engaged in the artistic experimentation and critical spirit of modernity, he wrote more than twenty books of poetry and as many book-length essays on such topics as eroticism, poetry, politics, history, anthropology, and visual arts. Paz examined world cultures from multiple frames of reference, including the movements of modernity and postmodernity, the tensions between poetry and history, the state of world politics, Eastern and Western thought, and Latin American struggles for independence and self-determination. The broad sweep of his worldview was shaped in part by experiences gained during decades of service with the Mexican diplomatic corps in Paris, New York, New Delhi, Tokyo, and Geneva. Recognized worldwide thanks to translations and awards, including the 1990 Nobel Prize in Literature, Paz’s intellectual work engenders rich, sometimes controversial scholarship. Praised by many for his remarkable contributions, others accuse him of creating an elitist, ahistorical concept of poetry as the singular resource to overcome the failures of history. The vast scholarship examining Paz’s work focuses on his poetics and critical thought, and addresses recurring themes: biography, political controversies, and the intellectual movements of the 20th century that influenced or were influenced by him. The scope and impact of Paz’s oeuvre present a substantial challenge for this concise bibliography. The comprehensive bibliography by Hugo J. Verani, covering the period 1931–2013, provided a seminal starting point for our work (see Verani 2014, cited under Bibliographies). While that collection sought to encompass any and all works alluding to Paz, our focus here is on sources of substantive merit that advance our understanding of the author. We have sought to capture major threads of research, emphasizing works published in 2014 in honor of Paz’s centenary and those that follow to the present day. Source format was taken into account, resulting in a selection that includes mostly books (in print and online), book chapters, anthologies, biographies, and peer-reviewed journals. The core of the scholarship on Paz includes analyses of poetry and poetics, comparative studies on world cultures, critiques of modernity and postmodernity, scholarship on the visual arts, Asia and orientalism, history, and politics. By selecting these topics as the organizing concepts of the bibliography, we hope to highlight crucial background materials to explore Paz’s contributions to the landscape of literature, culture, and politics in the 20th and early 21st centuries.
While scholarly commentary on Paz abounds, the field has produced only a handful of full-length comprehensive studies. Ivask 1973 offers one such critical overview, and is ideal for readers relatively unfamiliar with Paz’s works. Flores 1974 and Roggiano 1979 are also comprehensive, though the former delves into expressive and thematic features in Paz’s poetry, while the latter surveys major trends in his intellectual production, from visual poetry to orientalism. Cantú 2014 offers a recent and comprehensive perspective of Paz’s engagement with art and modernity, history and cultural criticism, myth and world civilizations. Wilson 1986 provides a concise introduction to Paz’s oeuvre in an accessible style, touching on its major themes and placing particular emphasis on that of intellectual and existential freedom. Also accessible and undergraduate-friendly, Bradu 2014 (cited under World Cultures) provides a short and personal overview of Paz almost twenty years after his death, while Fein 1986 focuses exclusively on his poetry. Santí 2016 and Román-Odio 2006 engage both Paz’s works and legacy. However, while Santí 2016 offers scholarly introductions to Paz’s most important poetry collections and essays, Román-Odio 2006 is rich in scholarly detail and analysis of Paz’s long poems, though not a general introduction to the poet. Of the most recent collections, Cansino, et al. 2016 explores Paz’s impact on the 21st century, while González Ormerod 2015 highlights the influence of English literary traditions on Paz’s intellectual work.
Cansino, César, Omar M. Gallardo, and Germán Molina Carillo. Octavio Paz sin concesiones: Quince miradas críticas. Puebla, Mexico: Grupo Editorial Mariel, 2016.
This is an excellent critical collection by top scholars focusing on Paz’s poetics, history, politics, essay writing, and worldview. It explores the impact of Paz’s intellectual work on 21st-century culture and political discourse. Innovative in its approach, the book seeks to put Paz in dialogue with diverse imaginary interlocutors in order to highlight aporias in Paz’s critical and poetic thought unresolved.
Cantú, Roberto, ed. The Willow and the Spiral: Essays on Octavio Paz and the Poetic Imagination. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2014.
Published as an homage marking the centenary of Paz’s birth, this collection of critical essays offers a critical perspective of Paz’s engagement with art and modernity, history and cultural criticism, myth and world civilizations. The fourteen essays contribute important discussions amassing a broad view of Paz’s incisive contributions to poetry, criticism, and political thought.
Fein, John M. Toward Octavio Paz: A Reading of His Major Poems, 1957–1976. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1986.
This book examines Paz’s culminating poems, from Piedra de sol to Vuelta, tracing recurring themes such as paradox, solitude, and communion. Offers useful information about the context and rhetorical devices of poems; ideal for readers relatively unfamiliar with Paz’s works.
Flores, Ángel, ed. Aproximaciones a Octavio Paz. Mexico City: Joaquín Mortiz, 1974.
Perhaps the most renowned collection of critical essays published during the height of criticism on the poet. The essays contribute groundbreaking discussions on the distinctive expressive and thematic traits in Paz’s work, including symbols and imagery, space and time, freedom and eroticism, and poetry and poetic thought. Contains useful analyses of Paz’s major poetry collections.
González Ormerod, Alejandro, ed. Octavio Paz y el Reino Unido. Mexico City: CONACULTA, 2015.
This volume documents British and Mexican specialists’ approach to a seldom studied period in the life of the poet and his connections to the literature and academia of the United Kingdom. Offers a history of Paz’s time at Cambridge University, focusing on the influence of English writers and friendships on Paz’s work during his stay. Useful for understanding The Monkey Grammarian, conceived in New Delhi but written in Churchill College.
Ivask, Ivar, ed. The Perpetual Present: The Poetry and Prose of Octavio Paz. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1973.
A prime collection of scholarship during the seventies, this source approaches Paz holistically, as poet, critic, and global citizen, amassing a panoramic view of Paz’s broad intellectual contributions. Contains useful analyses of Paz’s poetry and poetics, focusing on imagery, irony, circularity, the notion of vivacity, and selections from an interview with Paz.
Roggiano, Alfredo, ed. Octavio Paz. Madrid: Fundamentos, 1979.
Written during the peak period of critical production on Paz, the twenty-one critical essays in this collection survey major trends in Paz’s poetry, from visual poetry to Asia and orientalism. Provides a blueprint of critical thought on Paz, including the process and meaning of revision in his works. Useful for undergraduate and advanced scholars; contains a useful bibliography of works by and about Paz.
Román-Odio, Clara. Octavio Paz en los debates críticos y estéticos del siglo XX. La Coruña, Spain: TresCTres Editores, 2006.
A seminal work that puts Paz in conversation with the main critical and artistic debates of the 20th century through an in-depth analysis of the poet’s long poems. Challenges the myth that Paz created an elitist, ahistorical concept of poetry as the only available resource for overcoming the failures of history. Contains useful analyses to navigate the aesthetic complexities of Paz’s poetry and poetics.
Santí, Enrico M. El acto de las palabras. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2016.
Originally published in 1997, this study provides insightful introductions to the early writing of the poet and other works such as Libertad bajo palabra, El laberinto de la soledad, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz o las trampas de la fe, and Blanco, as well as interviews with the poet. The revised edition refines and updates analyses, including additional essays and notes. An indispensable reading to grasp Paz’s poetic and intellectual contributions.
Wilson, Jason. Octavio Paz. Boston: Twayne, 1986.
An accessible and succinct introduction to the study of Paz, this volume ties together Paz’s works by arguing that his intellectual journey develops as a pursuit of freedom through poetic consciousness. Surveys major themes in Paz’s work, including surrealism, myth, the poetics of hope, and the East. Good resource for undergraduate students.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
- Agricultural Technologies
- Ancient Andean Textiles
- Andean Contributions to Rethinking the State and the Natio...
- Andean Music
- Antislavery Narratives
- Arab Diaspora in Brazil, The
- Arab Diaspora in Latin America, The
- Argentina in the Era of Mass Immigration
- Argentina, Slavery in
- Argentine Literature
- Army of Chile in the 19th Century
- Asian Art and Its Impact in the Americas, 1565–1840
- Asian-Peruvian Literature
- Atlantic Creoles
- Baroque and Neo-baroque Literary Tradition
- Bello, Andrés
- Black Experience in Colonial Latin America, The
- Black Experience in Modern Latin America, The
- Borderlands in Latin America, Conquest of
- Bourbon Reforms, The
- Brazilian Northeast, History of the
- Buenos Aires
- Caribbean Philosophical Association, The
- Caribbean, The Archaeology of the
- Cartagena de Indias
- Caste War of Yucatán, The
- Caudillos, 19th Century
- Cádiz Constitution and Liberalism, The
- Chaco War
- Children, History of
- Chile's Struggle for Independence
- Chronicle, The
- Church in Colonial Latin America, The
- Chávez, Hugo, and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela
- Cinema, Contemporary Brazilian
- Cinema, Latin American
- Colonial Central America
- Colonial Legal History of Peru
- Colonial New Granada
- Colonial Portuguese Amazon Region, from the 17th to 18th C...
- Contemporary Maya, The
- Costa Rica
- Cárdenas and Cardenismo
- Cuban Revolution, The
- Dependency Theory in Latin American History
- Development of Architecture in New Spain, 1500–1810, The
- Development of Painting in Peru, 1520–1820, The
- Drug Trades in Latin America
- Dutch in South America and the Caribbean, The
- Early Colonial Forms of Native Expression in Mexico and Pe...
- Economies from Independence to Industrialization
- Ecuador, La Generación del 30 in
- El Salvador
- Enlightenment and its Visual Manifestations in Spanish Ame...
- Environmental History
- Era of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911, The
- Family History
- Film, Science Fiction
- Football (Soccer) in Latin America
- Gaucho Literature
- Gender in Colonial Brazil
- Gender in Postcolonial Latin America
- Guaraní and Their Legacy, The
- Guatemala and Yucatan, Conquest of
- Guatemala City
- Guatemala (Colonial Period)
- Guatemala (Modern & National Period)
- Haitian Revolution, The
- Health and Disease in Modern Latin America, History of
- History, Cultural
- History, Food
- Honor in Latin America to 1900
- Horror in Literature and Film in Latin America
- Human Rights in Latin America
- Immigration in Latin America
- Indigenous Elites in the Colonial Andes
- Indigenous Population and Justice System in Central Mexico...
- Indigenous Voices in Literature
- Japanese Presence in Latin America
- Jewish Presence in Latin America, The
- José María Arguedas and Early 21st Century Cultural and Po...
- Las Casas, Bartolomé de
- Latin American Independence
- Latin American Urbanism, 1850-1950
- Law and Society in Latin America since 1800
- Legal History of New Spain, 16th-17th Centuries
- Legal History of the State and Church in 18th Century New ...
- Literature, Argentinian
- Machado de Assis
- Magical Realism
- Maroon Societies in Latin America
- Martí, José, and Cuba
- Mestizaje and the Legacy of José María Arguedas
- Mexican Nationalism
- Mexican Revolution, 1910–1940, The
- Mexican-US Relations
- Mexico, Conquest of
- Mexico, Education in
- Migration to the United States
- Military and Modern Latin America, The
- Military Government in Latin America, 1959–1990
- Military Institution in Colonial Latin America, The
- Modern Decorative Arts and Design, 1900–2000
- Modern Populism in Latin America
- Modernity and Decoloniality
- Musical Tradition in Latin America, The
- Native Presence in Postconquest Central Peru
- New Conquest History and the New Philology in Colonial Mes...
- New Left in Latin America, The
- Novel, Chronology of the Venezuelan
- Novel of the Mexican Revolution, The
- Novel, 19th Century Haitian
- Novel, The Colombian
- Oaxaca, Conquest and Colonial
- Painting in New Spain, 1521–1820
- Paraguayan War (War of the Triple Alliance)
- Pastoralism in the Andes
- Paz, Octavio
- Perón and Peronism
- Peru, Colonial
- Peru, Conquest of
- Peru, Slavery in
- Philippines Under Spanish Rule, 1571-1898
- Photography in the History of Race and Nation
- Political Exile in Latin America
- Popular Culture and Globalization
- Popular Movements in 19th-Century Latin America
- Post Conquest Aztecs
- Post-Conquest Demographic Collapse
- Poverty in Latin America
- Preconquest Incas
- Pre-conquest Mesoamerican States, The
- Pre-Revolutionary Mexico, State and Nation Formation in
- Printing and the Book
- Prints and the Circulation of Colonial Images
- Protestantism in Latin America
- Puerto Rican Literature
- Religions in Latin America
- Revolution and Reaction in Central America
- Rosas, Juan Manuel de
- Sandinista Revolution and the FSLN, The
- Santo Domingo
- Science and Empire in the Iberian Atlantic
- Sexualities in Latin America and the Caribbean
- Slavery in Brazil
- São Paulo
- Spanish American Arab Literature
- Spanish and Portuguese Trade, 1500–1750
- Spanish Caribbean In The Colonial Period, The
- Spanish Colonial Decorative Arts, 1500-1825
- Spanish Florida
- Spiritual Conquest of Latin America, The
- Telenovelas and Melodrama in Latin America
- Textile Traditions of the Andes
- 16th-Century New Spain
- Transculturation and Literature
- Trujillo, Rafael
- Tupac Amaru Rebellion, The
- United States and Castro's Cuba in the Cold War, The
- United States and the Guatemalan Revolution, The
- United States Invasion of the Dominican Republic, 1961–196...
- Urban History
- Urbanization in the 20th Century, Latin America’s
- U.S.-Latin American Relations During the Cold War
- Vargas, Getúlio
- Venezuelan Literature
- Women and Labor in 20th-Century Latin America
- Women in Colonial Latin American History
- Women in Modern Latin American History
- Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas