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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


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 398 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Underlining edition (January 12, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080215042X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802150424
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

From Library Journal

Originally issued in 1962, The Labyrinth of Solitude (Grove Weidenfeld. (ISBN 0-8021-5042-X. pap. $10.95; reprint) "contains nine beautifully written, deeply felt essays . . . whose concern is the Mexican's solitariness and quest for identity" ( LJ 4/15/62). The expanded volume contains additional essays written in the spirit of Labyrinth and other important works.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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I could see why he has accomplished and achieved fame for writing this beautiful book.
Rosalina Jimenez
The Labyrinth of Solitude is a series of essays written by Octavio Paz philosophically discussing death, birth, and love.
J. C. Lopez
Any individual willing to read this book will finish it understanding Mexican culture and history better.
ehecatl23@yahoo.com

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 72 people found the following review helpful By ehecatl23@yahoo.com on March 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
No other book has been able to accurately describe the Mexican psyche as Paz has done in this book. His eloquent prose style captivates the Mexican spirit in all its grace and in all its sadness. He brings all of Mexico's conflicts and taboos together and strips off all its masks to reveal the Mexican. I found his style to be poetic, eloquent, and majestic. Never had I read a book as powerfull and truthfull as Paz's. It is no wonder Paz was honored to receive the Nobel prize for this work. Any individual willing to read this book will finish it understanding Mexican culture and history better.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Scott Henson on August 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
Paz's 'Labyrinth of Solitude' describes a Mexico of days gone by. 21st-century Mexico is dramatically more urban and modern, on the whole, than when Paz wrote this 50+ years ago.

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.
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57 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Enrique Torres VINE VOICE on June 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
I first read this book in the early 70's and enjoyed it immensely. Being od Mexican descent it gave me insight into who I am and why. I have read this book again recently, upon Paz's death, and found it still as enlightening. The style of writng is beautiful, poetic , and full of symbolism and metaphors. While working in education I highly recommended it to my collegues to better understand the Mexican psyche. Anyone who works in the public sector or deals with Mexicans on either side of the border should read this book. It will help you understand the mind of the Mexican and how it works. One of my all time favorite books that should be enjoyed by all people interested in human behavior.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Chris Stolz on May 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
Like all great books, Paz' exploration of the Mexican soul begins with concrete historical and cultural detail and exfoliates into something complex, profound and ultimately moving.

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.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Gabriel Garibay Torres on February 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
Some say that when this masterpiece appeared in Mexico it was perceived as a mexican offending his own country, many censured Paz ideas:the birth of criticism and freedom of speech was taking place in Mexico.Since those years (the 50's), this radiography hasn't change a lot and this book has become a truly must read book. Its like a pre guide tour of one of the most mysterious countries in the world.Paz wrote about mexicans masks and inner faces. His sensual poetic prose dances with intelligence and beauty.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Burns on July 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
I wonderful book that examines the political and human level of Mexico and its deep rooted history. Most people think of chaos in reference to this great country, I suggest you read this beautiful book to understand the complex structure of Mexico.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jessica L. Krudwig on August 12, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The writing in this book is a bit thick and meandering, but it does give some interesting insight into a culture many Americans have a hard time understanding at a time when we need to understand the most. If you can handle the frequent revisiting of the same topics throughout the essays, you will learn quite a bit.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Erin on February 5, 2013
Format: Paperback
I am senior in high school and we chose to read "The Labyrinth of Solitude" by Octavio Paz in a literature circle. This book is a collection of essays about the history of Mexicans and how their traditions have started and no matter what ethnic background you come from you can relate to it. Paz writes about self-discovery through solitude because he believes that we are truly alone in this world. Even though Paz focuses mostly on the Mexican culture and traditions I could relate to some of the subject matter and I am Thai, German, French, and Irish. If you are interested in the Latino culture and their history this is a good book for you or if you are of Latino background, especially from Mexico. Paz is repetitive of the topics he discusses in his essays but they make you think about your life and all the traditions you uphold with your family. This book has robust vocabulary so this may be intimidating to those that don't have a strong vocabulary. Don't let that stray you away from this wonderful book because you will learn a lot from Paz. I would recommend this book to seniors in high school and adults.
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