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This article is taken from PN Review 19, Volume 7 Number 5, May - June 1981.

Octavio Paz - The Other Voice David Holloway

'THEIRS was a sort of religious atheism, a religious rebellion against religion. It was more a search for an Erotica than for a new Poetics. Almost all identified themselves with Camus' words from those second postwar days: "solitaire solidaire".' Thus Octavio Paz on the 'other avant-garde' (with which he associates himself) that began in Spanish American poetry about 1945. He continues: 'Between cosmopolitanism and Americanism, my generation made a clean and permanent break: we are condemned to be Americans as our fathers and grandfathers were condemned to seek America or flee from her.' It should be said at once that this 'condemnation' to Americanism marks a change of emphasis rather than an exclusive preoccupation, for in addition to pre-Columbian America the new poets were attracted by Surrealism and the East and they considered Lowell, Olson, Bishop and Ginsberg 'as their true contemporaries' (Paz, Children of the Mire, Modern Poetry from Romanticism to the Avant-Garde). Paz's Mexican heritage and his interest in other traditions are both fully manifest in the Selected Poems which contains work from five of his postwar books, ranging from La estación violenta (1948-57) to Vuelta (1976). The volume also includes a brief introduction by Charles Tomlinson and an essay, 'Poetry and History', from Paz's Anthology of Mexican Poetry translated by that master of solitude, Samuel Beckett. It concludes with an 'Epilogue' which consists of one poem, 'Dia', from the recent Paz/Tomlinson sonnet sequence, Hijos del Aire/Air-born.

Paz's poems embody the 'solitaire solidaire'. In The ...

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