Octavio Paz has long been acknowledged as Mexico's foremost writer and critic. In this international classic, Paz has written one of the most enduring and powerful works ever created on Mexico and its people, character, and culture. Compared to Ortega y Gasset's The Revolt of the Masses for its trenchant analysis, this collection contains his most famous work, "The Labyrinth of Solitude," a beautifully written and deeply felt discourse on Mexico's quest for identity that gives us an unequalled look at the country hidden behind "the mask." Also included are "The Other Mexico," "Return to the Labyrinth of Solitude," "Mexico and the United States," and "The Philanthropic Ogre," all of which develop the themes of the title essay and extend his penetrating commentary to the United States and Latin America.
First published in 1950, The Labyrinth of Solitude addresses issues that are both seemingly eternal and resoundingly contemporary: the nature of political power in post-conquest Mexico, the relation of Native Americans to Europeans, the ubiquity of official corruption. Noting these matters earned Paz no small amount of trouble from the Mexican leadership, but it also brought him renown as a social critic. Paz, who went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, later voiced his disillusionment with all political systems--as the Mexican proverb has it, "all revolutions degenerate into governments"--but his call for democracy in this book has lately been reverberating throughout Mexico, making it timely once again.