Written by Catherine Bolduc
OF CARLOS FUENTES
Carlos Fuentes is one of Mexico’s most important novelists, journalists,
playwrights, and essayists. He was born in Panama City on November 11, 1928, and
he spent much of his childhood in Washington DC, where his father was a diplomat
for the Mexican government. Fuentes also lived in Chile and Argentina. He
received a privileged cosmopolitan education and was bilingual at a very early
age. His mother insisted that they spoke Spanish at home, and his father, who
loved books very much, made him study Mexican history. Fuentes saw Mexican
history as one of defeat compared with the one of United States. He once said
that he “learned to imagine
Mexico before he ever knew Mexico” (Carlos Fuentes 2002).
Fuentes returned to Mexico in 1944 at the age of sixteen. In 1949, he entered
the School of Law at the National University of Mexico, and in 1950, he left
Mexico to Geneva to pursue studies in economics at Institut des Hautes Études
Internationales. While in Geneva, Fuentes served in
the Mexican diplomatic service as a member of the Mexican delegation to
the International Labour Organization. He came back to Mexico in 1952 to finish
his Law degree.
His first major work, Los días enmascarados (“The Masked Days”), was
published in 1954. He also founded, along with Emmanuel Carballo, a literary
publication called Revista Mexicana de Literatura. He edited El
Espectador from 1959 to 1961, Siempre from 1960, and Política
from 1960. At that time, Fuentes was implicated in the Communist party. His
inclination for Fidel Castro, who came to power in 1959, as well as his support
for the Cuban Marxist party, brought him into disfavour with the US government,
and he was even prevented for a
time from entering United States (Tuck)
During the 1960s, Fuentes lived mostly in Europe and devoted his time to writing.
He wrote some of his major works in this period, including his first novel, La
región más trasparente (“Where the Air Is Clear”), in 1958, La
muerte de Artemio Cruz (“The Death of Artemio Cruz”), in 1962, the
haunting novella Aura, also in 1962, and Cambio de piel (“A
Change of Skin”), in 1967. “Carlos Fuentes achieved international prominence
as a writer during the 'Boom' in Latin American literature in the 1960s, along
with Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa” (Carlos Fuentes.
Bloomsbury author information).
Fuentes has never ceased to write and his “works are
a mixture of social protest,
realism, psychological insight, and fantasy” (Carlos Fuentes Biography). He
wrote many bestsellers, among which El gringo viejo (“The Old
Gringo”), written in 1985, which was also made a movie, and Cristóbal
nonato (“Christopher Unborn”), written in 1989. Fuentes has received
numerous literary awards, including the Cervantes Prize in 1987, which is the
most distinguished award accorded to a Spanish-language writer. He still writes
for many European magazines, and his work has been published in “The
Nation”, “The New York Times”, “The Washington Post Book World”, and
other prestigious newspapers. One of his latest books, Contra Bush (“Against
Bush”), presents a very current reflection on the
North American and worldwide political crisis developed under the George W. Bush
administration. At 78, Fuentes is still politically engaged. He currently
divides his time between Mexico City and London, and he teaches a few
weeks per year at Brown University, Rhode Island.
Fuentes, Official Web Site.
2005. ClubCultura.com.25 March 2006 <www.carlos-fuentes.net>.
Jim. “Rebel, Internationalist,
Establishmentarian: The Meandering Road of Carlos Fuentes.” Mexico
Connect. 1999. 25 March 2006 <http://www.mexconnect.com/mex_/history/jtuck/jtcfuentes.html>.
Books and Writers. 25 March 2006 <www.kirjasto.sci.fi/fuentes.htm>.
Fuentes.” Libyrinth. 25 March 2006 <www.themodernword.com/fuentes/index.html>
Fuentes.” Bloomsbury author information. 25 March 2006 <http://www.bloomsbury.com/authors/microsite.asp?section=1&id=14>.
“Carlos Fuentes Biography.” Bookrags. 25 March 2006 <www.bookrags.com/biography-carlos-fuentes/>.