Carlos Fuentes

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This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Fuentes and the second or maternal family name is Macías.
Carlos Fuentes
Head and shoulders photo of a greying man with a small moustache, wearing a suit, arms folded.
Fuentes in 2002
Born Carlos Fuentes Macías
(1928-11-11)November 11, 1928
Panama City, Panama
Died May 15, 2012(2012-05-15) (aged 83)
Mexico City, Mexico
Occupation Novelist, writer
Nationality Mexican
Period 1954–2012
Literary movement Latin American Boom
Notable works
Spouse
  • Rita Macedo (1959–1973)
  • Silvia Lemus (1976–2012, his death)
Children
  • Cecilia Fuentes Macedo (1962–)
  • Carlos Fuentes Lemus (1973–1999)
  • Natasha Fuentes Lemus (1974–2005)
Website
www.carlos-fuentes.net

Carlos Fuentes Macías (November 11, 1928 – May 15, 2012) was a Mexican novelist and essayist. Among his works are The Death of Artemio Cruz (1962), Aura (1962), Terra Nostra (1975), The Old Gringo (1985) and Christopher Unborn (1987). In his obituary, the New York Times described him as "one of the most admired writers in the Spanish-speaking world" and an important influence on the Latin American Boom, the "explosion of Latin American literature in the 1960s and '70s",[1] while The Guardian called him "Mexico's most celebrated novelist".[2] His many literary honors include the Miguel de Cervantes Prize as well as Mexico's highest award, the Belisario Domínguez Medal of Honor. He was often named as a likely candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, though he never won.[3]

Biography[edit]

Fuentes was born in Panama City to Berta Macías and Rafael Fuentes, the latter of whom was a Mexican diplomat.[1][4] As the family moved for his father's career, Fuentes spent his childhood in various Latin American capital cities,[2] an experience he later described as giving him the ability to view Latin America as a critical outsider.[5] From 1934 to 1940, Fuentes' father was posted to the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C.,[6] where Carlos attended English-language school, eventually becoming fluent.[2][6] He also began to write during this time, creating his own magazine, which he shared with apartments on his block.[2]

In 1938, Mexico nationalized foreign oil holdings, leading to a national outcry in the U.S. and Fuentes' ostracism by his American classmates; he later pointed to the event as the moment in which he began to understand himself as Mexican.[6] In 1940, the Fuentes family was transferred to Santiago, Chile. There Carlos first became interested in socialism, which would become one of his lifelong passions, in part through his interest in the poetry of Pablo Neruda.[7] He lived in Mexico for the first time at the age of 16, when he went to study law at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City with an eye toward a diplomatic career.[2] During this time, he also began working at the daily newspaper Hoy and writing short stories.[2]

In 1957, Fuentes was named head of cultural relations at the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs.[6] The following year, he published Where the Air Is Clear, which immediately made him a "national celebrity"[6] and allowed him to leave his diplomatic post to write full-time.[1] In 1959, he moved to Havana in the wake of the Cuban Revolution, where he wrote pro-Castro articles and essays.[6] The same year, he married Mexican actress Rita Macedo.[2] Considered "dashingly handsome",[4] Fuentes also had high profile affairs with actresses Jeanne Moreau and Jean Seberg, the latter of whom inspired his novel Diana: The Goddess Who Hunts Alone.[6] His second marriage, to journalist Silvia Lemus, lasted until his death.[8]

Fuentes served as Mexico's ambassador to France from 1975 to 1977, resigning in protest of former President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz's appointment as ambassador to Spain.[1] He also taught at Cambridge, Brown, Princeton, Harvard, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, and Cornell.[8][9] His friends included Luis Buñuel, William Styron, Friedrich Dürrenmatt,[6] and sociologist C. Wright Mills, to whom he dedicated his book The Death of Artemio Cruz.[10] Once good friends with Nobel-winning Mexican poet Octavio Paz, Fuentes became estranged from him in the 1980s in a disagreement over the Sandinistas, whom Fuentes supported.[1] In 1988, Paz's magazine Vuelta carried an attack by Enrique Krauze on the legitimacy of Fuentes' Mexican identity, opening a feud between Paz and Fuentes that lasted until Paz's 1998 death.[6] In 1989, he was the subject of a full-length PBS television documentary, "Crossing Borders: The Journey of Carlos Fuentes," which also aired in Europe and was broadcast repeatedly in Mexico.[11]

Fuentes fathered three children. Only one of them survived him: Cecilia Fuentes Macedo, born in 1962.[1] A son, Carlos Fuentes Lemus, died from complications associated with hemophilia in 1999 at the age of 25. A daughter, Natasha Fuentes Lemus (born August 31, 1974), died of an apparent drug overdose in Mexico City on August 22, 2005, at the age of 30.[12]

Writing[edit]

Head and shoulders shot of a man on stage talking into a microphone.
Carlos Fuentes at the Miami Book Fair International of 1987

Fuentes described himself as a pre-modern writer, using only pens, ink and paper. He asked, "Do words need anything else?" Fuentes said that he detested those authors who from the beginning claim to have a recipe for success. In a speech on his writing process, he related that when he began the writing process, he began by asking, "Who am I writing for?"[13]

Fuentes' first novel, Where the Air Is Clear (La región más transparente), was an immediate success.[1] The novel is built around the story of Federico Robles – who has abandoned his revolutionary ideals to become a powerful financier – but also offers "a kaleidoscopic presentation" of vignettes of Mexico City, making it as much a "biography of the city" as of an individual man.[14] The novel was celebrated not only for its prose, which made heavy use of interior monologue and explorations of the subconscious,[1] but also for its "stark portrait of inequality and moral corruption in modern Mexico".[15]

A year later, he followed with another novel, The Good Conscience (Las Buenas Conciencias), which depicted the privileged middle classes of a medium-sized town, probably modeled on Guanajuato. Described by a contemporary reviewer as "the classic Marxist novel", it tells the story of a privileged young man whose impulses toward social equality are suffocated by his family's materialism.[16]

Fuentes' best-known novel, The Death of Artemio Cruz (La muerte de Artemio Cruz) appeared in 1962 and is today "widely regarded as a seminal work of modern Spanish American literature".[7] Like many of his works, the novel used rotating narrators, a technique critic Karen Hardy described as demonstrating "the complexities of a human or national personality".[6] The novel is heavily influenced by Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, and attempts literary parallels to Welles' techniques, including close-up, cross-cutting, deep focus, and flashback.[7] Like Kane, the novel begins with the titular protagonist on his deathbed; the story of Cruz's life is then filled in by flashbacks as the novel moves between past and present. Cruz is a former soldier of the Mexican Revolution who has become wealthy and powerful through "violence, blackmail, bribery, and brutal exploitation of the workers".[17] The novel explores the corrupting effects of power and criticizes the distortion of the revolutionaries' original aims through "class domination, Americanization, financial corruption, and failure of land reform".[18]

Fuentes' 1975 Terra Nostra, perhaps his most ambitious novel, is a "massive, Byzantine work" that tells the story of all Hispanic civilization.[7] Modeled on James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, Terra Nostra shifts unpredictably between the sixteenth century and the twentieth, seeking the roots of contemporary Latin American society in the struggle between the conquistadors and indigenous Americans. Like Artemio Cruz, the novel also draws heavily on cinematic techniques.[7] The novel won the Xavier Villaurrutia Award in 1976[19] and the Venezuelan Rómulo Gallegos Prize in 1977.[20]

His 1985 novel The Old Gringo (Gringo viejo), loosely based on American author Ambrose Bierce's disappearance during the Mexican Revolution,[8] became the first U.S. bestseller written by a Mexican author.[3] The novel tells the story of Harriet Winslow, a young American woman who travels to Mexico, and finds herself in the company of an aging American journalist (called only "the old gringo") and Tomás Arroyo, a revolutionary general. Like many of Fuentes' works, it explores the way in which revolutionary ideals become corrupted, as Arroyo chooses to pursue the deed to an estate where he once worked as a servant rather than follow the goals of the revolution.[21] In 1989, the novel was adapted into the U.S. film Old Gringo starring Gregory Peck, Jane Fonda, and Jimmy Smits.[3] A long profile of Fuentes in the U.S. magazine, "Mother Jones," describes the filming of "The Old Gringo" in Mexico with Fuentes on the set. [22]

Mexican historian Enrique Krauze was a vigorous critic of Fuentes and his fiction, dubbing him a "guerrilla dandy" in a 1988 article for the perceived gap between his Marxist politics and his personal lifestyle.[23] Krauze accused Fuentes of selling out to the PRI government and being "out of touch with Mexico", exaggerating its people to appeal to foreign audiences: "There is the suspicion in Mexico that Fuentes merely uses Mexico as a theme, distorting it for a North American public, claiming credentials that he does not have."[4][24] The essay, published in Octavio Paz's magazine Vuelta, began a feud between Paz and Fuentes that lasted until Paz's death.[6] Following Fuentes' death, however, Krauze described him to reporters as "one of the most brilliant writers of the 20th Century".[25]

Fuentes' works have been translated into 24 languages.[3] He remained prolific to the end of his life, with an essay on the new government of France appearing in Reforma newspaper on the day of his death.[26]

Political views[edit]

The Los Angeles Times described Fuentes' politics as "moderate liberal", noting that he criticized "the excesses of both the left and the right".[4] Fuentes was a long-standing critic of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) government that ruled Mexico between 1929 and the election of Vicente Fox in 2000, and later of Mexico's inability to reduce drug violence. He has expressed his sympathies with the Zapatista rebels in Chiapas.[1] Fuentes was also critical of U.S. foreign policy, including Ronald Reagan's opposition to the Sandinistas,[6] George W. Bush's anti-terrorism tactics,[1] U.S. immigration policy,[3] and the role of the U.S. in the Mexican Drug War.[4] His politics caused him to be blocked from entering the United States until a Congressional intervention in 1967.[1] Once, after being denied permission to travel to a 1963 New York City book release party, he responded "The real bombs are my books, not me".[1] Much later in his life, he commented that "The United States is very good at understanding itself, and very bad at understanding others."[2]

The U.S. State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation closely monitored Fuentes during the 1960s, purposefully delaying — and often denying — the author’s visa applications.[27] Fuentes' FBI file, released on June 20, 2013, reveals that the FBI’s upper echelons were interested in Fuentes’ movements, because of the writer's suspected communist-leanings and criticism of the Vietnam War. Long-time FBI Associate Director Clyde Tolson was copied on several updates about Fuentes.[28]

Initially a supporter of Fidel Castro's Cuban Revolution, Fuentes turned against Castro after being branded a "traitor" to Cuba in 1965 for attending a New York conference[6] and the 1971 imprisonment of poet Heberto Padilla by the Cuban government.[2] The Guardian described him as accomplishing "the rare feat for a leftwing Latin American intellectual of adopting a critical attitude towards Fidel Castro's Cuba without being dismissed as a pawn of Washington."[2] Fuentes also criticized Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, dubbing him "a tropical Mussolini."[1]

Fuentes' last message on Twitter read, "There must be something beyond slaughter and barbarism to support the existence of mankind and we must all help search for it."[29]

Death[edit]

On May 15, 2012, Fuentes died in Angeles del Pedregal hospital in southern Mexico City from a massive hemorrhage.[8][30] He had been brought there after his doctor had found him collapsed in his Mexico City home.[8]

Mexican President Felipe Calderón wrote on Twitter, "I am profoundly sorry for the death of our loved and admired Carlos Fuentes, writer and universal Mexican. Rest in peace."[5] Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa stated, "with him, we lose a writer whose work and whose presence left a deep imprint".[5] French President François Hollande called Fuentes "a great friend of our country" and stated that Fuentes had "defended with ardour a simple and dignified idea of humanity".[31] Salman Rushdie tweeted "RIP Carlos my friend".[31]

Fuentes received a state funeral on May 16, with his funeral cortege briefly stopping traffic in Mexico City. The ceremony was held in the Palacio de Bellas Artes and was attended by President Calderón.[31]

List of works[edit]

Novels[edit]

Short stories[edit]

  • Los días enmascarados (1954)
  • Cantar de ciegos (1964)
  • Chac Mool y otros cuentos (1973)
  • Agua quemada (1983) ISBN 968-16-1577-8
  • Dos educaciones. (1991) ISBN 84-397-1728-8
  • Los hijos del conquistador (1994)
  • Inquieta compañía (2004)
  • Las dos Elenas
  • El hijo de Andrés Aparicio

Essays[edit]

Theater[edit]

  • Todos los gatos son pardos (1970)
  • El tuerto es rey (1970).
  • Los reinos originarios: teatro hispano-mexicano (1971)
  • Orquídeas a la luz de la luna. Comedia mexicana. (1982)
  • Ceremonias del alba (1990)

Screenplays[edit]

  • ¿No oyes ladrar los perros? (1974)
  • Pedro Páramo (1967)
  • Los caifanes (1966)
  • Un alma pura (1965) (episode from Los bienamados)
  • Tiempo de morir (1965) (written in collaboration with Gabriel García Márquez)
  • Las dos Elenas (1964)
  • El gallo de oro (1964) (written in collaboration with Gabriel García Márquez and Roberto Gavaldón, from a short story by Juan Rulfo)

Awards and recognition[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Anthony DePalma (May 15, 2012). "Carlos Fuentes, Mexican Man of Letters, Dies at 83". The New York Times. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Nick Caistor (May 15, 2012). "Carlos Fuentes obituary". The Guardian (London). Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Anahi Rama and Lizbeth Diaz (May 15, 2012). "Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes dies at 83". Chicago Tribune. Reuters. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Reed Johnson and Ken Ellingwood (May 16, 2012). "Carlos Fuentes dies at 83; Mexican novelist". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c "Mexican author Carlos Fuentes dead at 83". BBC News. May 16, 2012. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Marcela Valdes (May 16, 2012). "Carlos Fuentes, Mexican novelist, dies at 83". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Howard Fraser, Daniel Altamiranda, and Susana Perea-Fox (January 2012). "Carlos Fuentes". Critical Survey of Long Fiction. Retrieved May 18, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d e "Carlos Fuentes, prolific Mexican novelist, essayist, dies at 83; mourned around globe". The Washington Post. Associated Press. May 15, 2012. Retrieved May 16, 2012. [dead link]
  9. ^ Jonathan Roeder and Randall Woods (May 15, 2012). "Carlos Fuentes, Mexican Author With Global Fans, Dies At 83". Bloomberg. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  10. ^ Maarten van Delden (1993). "Carlos Fuentes: From Identity to Alternativity". Modern Language Notes (Johns Hopkins University) 108: 331–346. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  11. ^ Template:Http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0473023/
  12. ^ "Muere Natasha Fuentes Lemus, hija de Carlos Fuentes". Letralia. September 5, 2012. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Desconfía Carlos Fuentes de los escritores con éxito garantizado". El Universal (in Spanish). November 13, 2007. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  14. ^ Genevieve Slomski (November 2010). "Where the Air Is Clear". Masterplots. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  15. ^ Husna Haq (May 16, 2012). "Carlos Fuentes: 5 best novels". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  16. ^ Seldan Rodman (November 12, 1961). "Revolution Isn't Enough". The New York Times. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  17. ^ "The Death of Artemio Cruz". Masterplots. November 2010. Retrieved May 18, 2012. 
  18. ^ Genevieve Slomski and Thomas L. Erskine (January 2009). "The Death of Artemio Cruz". Magill's Survery of World Literature. Retrieved May 18, 2012. 
  19. ^ a b "Premio Xavier Villaurrutia". El poder de la palabra. Retrieved December 7, 2009. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Fuentes, Carlos" (in Spanish). Colegio Nacional. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  21. ^ Bernadette Flynn Low (November 2010). "The Old Gringo". Masterplots. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  22. ^ Template:Http://www.motherjones.com/media/2012/05/carlos-fuentes-interview
  23. ^ Marjorie Miller (May 17, 2012). "Appreciating Mexican author Carlos Fuentes". Google News. Associated Press. Retrieved May 18, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Mexico mourns death of Carlos Fuentes". The Telegraph (London). May 15, 2012. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  25. ^ "Reaction to death of Mexican author Carlos Fuentes". CBS News. May 15, 2012. Retrieved May 18, 2012. [dead link]
  26. ^ Alejandro Escalona (May 16, 2012). "Carlos Fuentes embraced Chicago". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  27. ^ Graham Kates (June 21, 2013). "FBI Foiled and Followed Author". NYCity News Service. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  28. ^ http://www.nycitynewsservice.com/2013/06/21/fbi-foiled-and-followed-author/.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  29. ^ Noam Cohen (May 15, 2012). "The Day Carlos Fuentes Took to Twitter". The New York Times. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  30. ^ "Muere el escritor Carlos Fuentes". El Universal. May 15, 2012. Retrieved May 15, 2012. 
  31. ^ a b c Gaby Wood (May 17, 2012). "Presidents and Nobel winners honour Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  32. ^ El premio en la página del Carnaval de Mazatlán
  33. ^ "Harvard Honorary Degrees". 
  34. ^ Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes. "Premio Nacional de Ciencias y Artes". Secretaría de Educación Pública. Retrieved December 1, 2009. 
  35. ^ Carlos Fuentes (November 7, 1984). "The 1984 CBC Massey Lectures, "Latin America: At War With The Past"". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  36. ^ "Cambridge Honorary Degrees". 
  37. ^ a b c d "Muere Carlos Fuentes". lne.es. Reuters. May 15, 2012. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  38. ^ "Personas Galardonadas y Discursos Pronunciados". Senado de la Republica de Mexico. May 17, 2012. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  39. ^ "Miembros de la Academia Mexicana de la Lengua" (in Spanish). Academia Mexicana de la Lengua. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  40. ^ Real Academia Española (2004). "Premio Real Academia Española de creación literaria 2004". Retrieved August 23, 2010. 
  41. ^ "Dan a Carlos Fuentes premio Galileo 2000". El Siglo=. June 20, 2005. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  42. ^ "Laureates Since 1982". The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award. 2012. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  43. ^ "Huizinga-lezing archief" (in Dutch). Leiden University. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  44. ^ "Conaculta anuncia el Premio Internacional Carlos Fuentes a la Creación Literaria en el Idioma Español" (in Spanish). July 3, 2012. Retrieved July 4, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
José Angel Conchello Dávila
Belisario Domínguez Medal of Honor
1999
Succeeded by
Leopoldo Zea Aguilar