Octavio Paz
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Octavio Paz

Born on March 31, 1914, Octavio Paz was a Mexican writer who was gifted at poetry in particular. He was brought up in a revolutionary environment, as his father was actively against Porfirio Díaz and his regime. His family had to move to the United States in exile due to their support of Emiliano Zapata.

His passion for reading was fed by his grandfather's large book collection, who was a writer and a journalist. Later, in the 1920s, he would be influenced by several authors, such as Antonio Machado. Having published his first work, Cabellera, he followed this up with Luna silvestre ("Wild Moon"). He had writers such as D. H. Lawrence watching over him, and was going in the right direction to produce some excellent work.

In 1935 he moved to Yucatán, Mexico, where her proceeded to work as a teacher for the children of the peasants and workers. During his time at the school, he completed pieces such as Entre la piedra y la flor ("Between a Rock and a Flower"), which focuses on the biased hierarchy witnessed in Mexican society at a time of rich landowners and poor peasants. He produced his first literary journal in 1938, which he named Taller, where he had a major role as a writer until 1941. In 1938 he also married Elena Garro, who was a well known writer herself.

He achieved a Guggenheim fellowship in 1943 and went to the United States, where he studied at the University of California at Berkeley. Upon finishing his studies, he became a Mexican diplomatic service worker, beginning with a position in New York and later going to Paris. In France, he produced The Labyrinth of Solitude, which included 9 essays. By then, he had traveled extensively in his role as a diplomat, visiting countries such as India, Japan and Switzerland.

In his later years he resigned to his diplomatic position in protest, due to the Tlatelolco massacre, which occurred just ten days before the beginning of the Olympic Games in 1968. The influences in his literary work were many, and have been characterized as anything ranging from surrealism to Marxism, from existentialism and socialism. His other notable work includes: Sunstone and The Monkey Grammarian, and his poetry is collected in the volume Libertad bajo palabra ("Liberty Under Oath").

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