To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
The Labyrinth of Solitude: The Other Mexico, Return to the Labyrinth of Solitude, Mexico and the United States, the Philanthropic Ogre Paperback – January 12, 1994
Books with Buzz
Discover the latest buzz-worthy books, from mysteries and romance to humor and nonfiction. Explore more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
From Library Journal
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Published in 1950, this was a book of its time. The Grove Press English translation is first rate; it reads beautifully.
Paz despised communism but was unimpressed with American materialism and narcissism, which in any event he thought inapplicable en masse to the Mexican character (as he piercingly described it) that drew so heavily on indigenous roots. He thought Mexico could find a third way, and he chose to start his search for it by heeding the millenia-old Socratic charge: know thyself. The result was a book one critic called an insult to every Mexican mother, though in truth it's nothing of the sort. His polemic made him no friends in the short term, however, even as it became an instant classic and catapulted him among the pinnacle stars of 20th century Latin American cultural critics.
Great to read while traveling, but good to keep in mind it's dated 5 decades. He's not describing the Mexican world a decade after NAFTA! His collected poems are worth the cost of admission, too.
Paz sets his book at the junction where historical experience, ritual, myth, the Mexican sense of interior solitude, Mexico's European, Maya and Aztec roots, and its incredible legacy of art and writing intersect. The book-- in gleaming prose-- describes Mexico from both personal and historical points of view. His thesis is that, despite much of its horrific historical baggage and the mess that its twentieth-century governments made of it, Mexican culture understands that North American materialism and individualism are "nightmares reflected in the torture chambers of reason." Paz' eye, of course, is critical-- Mexico is here as scrutinised as its northern neighbour-- but his book shows that underneath what often appears to observers as a macho and weirdly tacky culture there is a powerful and enduring old wisdom.
This is a remarkable book-- a great intro to Mexican culture for those who've read the historical basics.
1) If you want to understand why Mexico or Mexicans do what they do (and don't do what they don't do), this book is part of the standard-issue reading list. I wouldn't consider it anywhere near the be-all-end-all, but with how often it is referenced, it needs to be part of the mix.
2) Mexico, America, and the rest of the world have changed a lot since this book was written. It seems to me that some of it is dated. Yet, in all fairness, some of it seems proven true (e.g. much of the criticism of USA capitalism and commercialism running amok &/or being soulless). I don't think cultures change overnight, or even in only one or two generations, but the worldview gazed through for the writing of this book isn't as tenable, now days.
3) The writing is what one would expect from a poet. Overstuffed with allusions and flowery prose, the core message/meaning of the author can get lost in the verbiage, at times. That shouldn't prevent you from reading it, and in itself it is something of an example of "Mexican thinking/speaking." I mention it to warn you that there are many words to digest to get down to a succinct chunk of useful information/opinion.
4) I would suggest reading some Mexican history before reading this book. He covers many centuries when critiquing El Mexicano and if you have a better understanding of a more "objective" history of Mexico it is easier to grasp the opinions and conclusions he builds on top of Mexico's historical events.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Incredibly intelligent look at what makes a Mexican a Mexican, Great history for those of us who know little.Published 3 days ago by Gary Conner
Gift for my favorite PhD. He liked it but I have no idea about the rest of the questions.Published 8 months ago by K. KirschdeBurgos
This was a great buy as well as the quality of the book. Thank you from a greatful student.Published 11 months ago by Erika Martinez
I have not read the entire book. I bought it to read the chapter on All Souls Day for a report I was writing. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Anne M. Dalton
I felt the author made some outlandish generalizations about Northamericans (the ones from the U.S.)
I stopped reading the book because I felt the author (for lack of another... Read more
Necessary text for a pol.sci. class on Mexico. Very esoteric and spiritual in context and rather convoluted for this empiricist to accept. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Dan
This book is priceless. It is about Mexican history in the context of American Continents and the world. Read morePublished 19 months ago by LaurentG