• John King
Part of the Studies of the Americas book series (STAM)


In its issue of July 1999, the cultural journal Letras Libres—which had begun publication following the death of Octavio Paz in 1998 and the subsequent closing down of Paz’s magazine Vuelta—sought to claim its place within Mexican cultural traditions and institutions. It printed an “árbol hemerográfico” (“A family tree of little magazines”), with a growth span of almost one hundred years. At its base stood the cultural group known as the Ateneo de la Juventud and the literary magazine, Contemporáneos that appeared in Mexico between 1928 and 1931. Just above the base of Contemporáneos, we find Barandal (1931–1932) and Taller (1938–1941), magazines that Paz himself was involved with in his youth and in his early years as a poet. Toward the top of the trunk are Plural (1971–1976), Vuelta (1976–1998), and Letras Libres (1998–), the two magazines that Paz personally edited in the final three decades of his life, and this new journal that, following his death, openly declared its adherence to his legacy. In this particular mapping of the field of twentieth century Mexican cultural history, Paz—in his work as a poet and critic but also, crucially, in his role as an editor of journals—is seen as central. Indeed the critic Guillermo Sheridan has argued that Paz’s work as an editor and promoter of literary journals should be considered almost on a par with his life as a poet.1 The present book seeks to analyze the first of these central journals, Plural, edited by Paz between October 1971 and July 1976, and published as part of the Excélsior newspaper group, then directed by Julio Scherer.


Publishing House Mexico City Literary Journal Mexican Culture Archival Work 
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  1. 1.
    Guillermo Sheridan, “Octavio Paz: editor,” Letras Libres 96 (December 2006): 67.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Christopher Domínguez Michael, “Un árbol hemerográfico de la literatura mexicana,” Letras Libres 7 (July 1999): v.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Raymond Williams, “The Bloomsbury Fraction,” in Problems in Materialism and Culture. (London: Verso, 1980): 148–150.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See John King, El Di Tella y el desarrollo cultural argentino en la década del sesenta (Buenos Aires: La Marca Editora, 2007).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    For a commentary on this “happening” and other avant garde events in Argentina, see, Octavio Paz, “Letter to Eduardo Costa,” in Listen, Look, Now! Argentine Art of the 1960s: Writings of the Avant Garde, ed. Inés Katzenstein (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2004), 233–236.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Octavio Paz, “Antevíspera: Taller (1938–1941),” Vuelta 76 (March 1983): 12.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Among the many titles that cover this area, see: Roderic Camp, Intellectuals and the State in Twentieth Century Mexico (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985)Google Scholar
  8. Alan Knight, “The Peculiarities of Mexican History; Mexico Compared to Latin America,” Journal of Latin American Studies 24 (1992): 99–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Nicola Miller, In the Shadow of the State: Intellectuals and the Quest for National Identity in Twentieth-Century Spanish America (London: Verso, 1999)Google Scholar
  10. Deborah Cohn, “The Mexican Intelligentsia, 1950–1968: Cosmopolitanism, National Identity and the State,” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 21 1 (Winter 2005): 141–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kristine Vanden Berghe, “La cultura en México (1959–1972) en dos suplementos: Méxicoen la Cultura de Novedades y La Cultura en México de Siempre!” (MA thesis, UNAM, Mexico City, 1989)Google Scholar
  12. Jorge Volpi, La imaginación y el poder. Una historia intelectual de 1968 (Mexico City: Era, 1998)Google Scholar
  13. Claire Brewster, Responding to Crisis in Contemporary Mexico. The Political Writings of Paz, Fuentes, Monsiváis and Poniatowska (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 2005).Google Scholar
  14. 8.
    Alfonso Reyes and Victoria Ocampo, Cartas echadas: Correspondencia 1927–1959, (Mexico City: UAM, 1983), 32.Google Scholar
  15. 9.
    See Enrique Krauze, “La comedia mexicana de Carlos Fuentes,” Vuelta 139 (June 1988): 15–27Google Scholar
  16. Krauze, Mexicanos eminentes (Mexico City: Tusquets, 1999).Google Scholar
  17. 10.
    See in particular, Guillermo Sheridan, Los Contemporáneos ayer (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1985)Google Scholar
  18. Guillermo Sheridan, México 1932: la polémica nacionalista (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1999)Google Scholar
  19. Guillermo Sheridan, Poeta con paisaje: ensayos sobre la vida de Octavio Paz (Mexico City: Era, 2004).Google Scholar
  20. 12.
    The most relevant studies to this book are María Eugenia Mudrovcic, Mundo Nuevo: Cultura y guerra fría en la década del sesenta (Rosario: Beatriz Viterbo, 1997)Google Scholar
  21. Saúl Sosnowski, ed. La cultura de un siglo: América Latina en sus revistas (Buenos Aires: Alianza, 1999).Google Scholar

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© John King 2007

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  • John King

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