Alfonso Reyes

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Alfonso Reyes
ALFONSO REYES 1889 - 1959 ESCRITOR MEXICANO (13451343033).jpg
Alfonso Reyes Ochoa

(1889-05-17)17 May 1889
Died27 December 1959(1959-12-27) (aged 70)
Alma materNational Autonomous University of Mexico
OccupationWriter, Philosopher and Diplomat
EmployerLa Casa de España, El Colegio de México, Academia Mexicana de la Lengua, El Colegio Nacional
Known forAmbassador
Spouse(s)Manuela Mota Gómez
ChildrenAlfonso Bernardo Reyes Mota
  • Bernardo Reyes (father)
AwardsPremio Nacional de Ciencias y Artes (Literature & Linguistics); Honorary Doctorate (Princeton University, La Sorbona, University Of California Berkeley)

Alfonso Reyes

Alfonso Reyes Ochoa (17 May 1889 in Monterrey, Nuevo León – 27 December 1959 in Mexico City) was a Mexican writer, philosopher and diplomat. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature five times.[1]


He was the ninth of the twelve children of Bernardo Reyes Ogazón, a general and politician killed in the assault on the National Palace during the Decena Trágica, and Aurelia de Ochoa-Garibay y Sapién. His father held important political posts under the administrations of Porfirio Díaz, including the governorship of Nuevo León and the Secretary of War and Navy. Reyes was educated at various colleges in Monterrey, El Liceo Francés de México, El Colegio Civil de Monterrey, and later at the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria and graduated from the La Escuela Nacional de Jurisprudencia, which later became the law school at UNAM in 1913.

In 1909, he helped to found the Ateneo de la Juventud, along with other young intellectuals including Martín Luis Guzmán, José Vasconcelos, Julio Torri, and Pedro Enríquez Ureña, to promote new cultural and aesthetic ideals and educational reform in Mexico. In 1911, Reyes published his first book, Cuestiones estéticas.[2] The following year, he wrote the short story La Cena ("The Supper"), which is considered a forerunner of surrealism and Latin American magical realism.[3] In that year he was also named Secretary of the Escuela Nacional de Altos Estudios at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Reyes obtained his law degree in 1913, the same year that his father died while he was participating in an attempted coup d'état against the then president Francisco Madero.

Alfonso Reyes was posted to Mexico's diplomatic service in France in 1913. After Germany invaded France in 1914, he moved to Madrid, Spain, and pursued a literary career as journalist, investigator, translator, critic, and writer. In 1915, he wrote what is probably his best-known essay, "Visión de Anáhuac (1915)," with its famous epigraph, "Viajero: has llegado a la región más transparente del aire", the source of the title of Carlos Fuentes's novel La región más transparente.

Reyes was reinstated in the diplomatic service in 1920. He was the second secretary in Spain in 1920,[4] was in Paris from 1924 to 1927 and then served as the ambassador to Argentina (1927–1930 and 1936–1937). He was the Mexican ambassador to Brazil from 1930 to 1935 and again in 1938. In 1939, he retired from the diplomatic corps and returned to Mexico, where he organized what is today El Colegio de México and dedicated himself to writing and teaching.

Stay in Spain[edit]

His time in Spain, where he resided from 1914 to 1924, was considered his best creative period and when he became a great writer and master of literature.

In Spain, where he passed through hard financial times, he dedicated himself to literature and combined it with journalism. He worked in the Centro de Estudios Históricos (Historical Study Center) of Madrid under the direction of Sir Ramón Menéndez Pidal. In 1919, he was named the Mexican commission secretary "Francisco del Paso y Troncoso", the same year that Cantar de mio Cid was put to prose.

Many of his friends insisted that he was a natural in Spanish and should pursue a career in politics, but he did not dp so. One time he was presented with an offer to teach, but he rejected it. He was more interested in the aesthetics of Benedetto Croce. He published numerous essays about poetry of the Spanish Golden Age, such as Baroque y Góngora; on top of that he was one of the first writers to study poetry of the Nun Juana Inés de la Cruz. From 1917 he produced Cartones de Madrid, his small masterpiece, Visión de Anáhuac, El suicida, and in 1921, El cazador. He was a collaborator of the magazines of "Revista de Filología Española", Revista de Occidente and "Revue Hisanique". His works about Spanish literature, older classical literature and aesthetics are notable, and among the more notable of that time, "Cuestiones estéticas" (1911). In Spain he organized a ceremony on 11 September 1923 in the Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid (Real Botanical Garden of Madrid) to honor the memory of the symbolic poet Stéphane Mallarmé.

After 1924 he developed a diplomatic and social life in Paris, Buenos Aires and Río de Janeiro. He translated a Mallarmé and edited his own literary mail, "Monterrey," publishing it in 1930. He wrote friends abroad in every part of the world and gave discourses, spoke at conferences and contributed to homages and cultural reunions.

He published among others, "Cuestiones gongorinas" (1927), "Capítulos de literatura española" (1939–195), "Discurso por Virgilio" (1931). His poetic works reveal a profound knowledge of the formal means, notably "Ifigenia cruel" (1924), "Pausa" (1926), "5 casi sonetos" (1931), "Otra voz" (1936) and "Cantata en la tumba de Federico García Lorca" (1937).

He left a left a legacy of work as a translator (Laurence Sterne, G.K. Chesterton, Anton Chekhov) and as an editor (Ruiz de Alarcón, Cantar del mio Cid, Lope de Vega, Baltasar Gracián, Juan Ruiz, Francisco de Quevedo).


The Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges referred to Reyes as "the greatest prose writer in the Spanish language of any age".[5] At least five avenues in Monterrey's metropolitan area, three in the municipality and one in Mexico City are named after Reyes.

On May 17, 2018, Google Doodle commemorated Alfonso Reyes’ 129th birthday.[6]


The Fondo de Cultura Económica published his complete works in 26 volumes, titled Obras Completas de Alfonso Reyes. However, they are currently experiencing issues in downloading content.

See also[edit]

  • Alfonso Reyes International Prize
  • Alfonso Reyes (Monterrey Metro)
  • Enrique Díez Canedo, a Spanish writer and translator, friend of Alfonso Reyes who called his house in Mexico City "la Capilla Alfonsina"
  • Homero en Cuernavaca. Estudio preliminar de Arturo Dávila, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, 2013. ISBN 978-607-27-0086-4
  • List of people from Morelos, Mexico


  1. ^ "Nomination Database". Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  2. ^ Reyes, Alfonso (1911). Cuestiones estéticas. Robarts - University of Toronto. Paris : Ollendorff.
  3. ^ Vento, Arnoldo (1998). Mestizo: The History, Culture, and Politics of the Mexican and the Chicano. New York: University Press of America. p. 112.
  4. ^ Biblioteca "Alfonso Reyes" Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Mexican Embassy in Argentina (in Spanish)
  5. ^ Borges, J. L., 1980, "La Ceguera" ("Blindness") in Siete Noches. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica: 156.
  6. ^ "Alfonso Reyes' 129th Birthday". Google. 17 May 2018.

External links[edit]