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0665 | The Labyrinth of Solitude | Octavio Paz

0665 | The Labyrinth of Solitude | Octavio Paz post image

Context: Sold a picture of a sunset in Ethiopia to a colleague at work while reading this.

This is for die-hard fans of literature really. Very philosophical, this collection of essays wasn’t my cup of tea at all despite whatever place it may hold in Latin America or Mexico in particular.

This is a very loose exploration of the history of Mexico. You won’t really get much of it unless you already understand a fair bit of the narrative in the first place. He spends a lot of time using his references to history to clarify his ideas about the identity of Mexican people.

On the whole, it’s very much about what makes people Mexican, but in some respects, his ideas can be applied to the people of any nation anywhere. Thus:

History has the cruel reality of a nightmare, and the grandeur of man consists in his making beautiful and lasting works out of the real substance of that nightmare. Or, to put it another way, it consists in transforming the nightmare into vision; in getting ourselves from the shapeless horror of reality – if only for an instant – by means of creation.

There’s a lot going on here but it’s all very caught up in itself. A boring and possibly unnecessary read nowadays.

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