Carlos Fuentes, November 11, 1928 – May 15, 2012

Prolific Mexican intellectual, novelist, essayist, and occasional commentator Carlos Fuentes died suddenly May 15, 2012 at the age 83. The author of The Writings of Carlos Fuentes quotes Fuentes as saying that "writing implies an engagement with history, culture and identity." There is no doubt that Carlos Fuentes engaged generations worldwide in truly seeing and contemplating Mexico.
Carlos Fuentes gave many fascinating interviews and many of them are available to watch online. The library has many titles by and about Carlos Fuentes, in Spanish and English. Here are a few:

The Death of Artemio Cruz became the first U.S. bestseller written by a Mexican author. Artemio Cruz, the all-powerful newspaper magnate and land baron, lies confined to his bed and, in dreamlike flashes, recalls the pivotal episodes of his life. Carlos Fuentes manipulates the ensuing kaleidoscope of images with dazzling inventiveness, layering memory upon memory, from Cruz’s heroic campaigns during the Mexican Revolution, through his relentless climb from poverty to wealth, to his uneasy death. Perhaps Fuentes’ masterpiece, is a haunting voyage into the soul of modern Mexico. In Spanish: La muerte de Artemio Cruz

In Happy Families: Stories, Fuentes explores Tolstoy's classic observation that "happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." In these [...] remarkable stories, [...] modern obsessions bump up against those of the mythic past, and the result is a triumphant display of the many ways we reach out to one another and find salvation through irrepressible acts of love. In Spanish: Todas las familias felices

The Old Gringo tells the story of Ambrose Bierce, the American writer, soldier, and journalist, and of his last mysterious days in Mexico living among Pancho Villa’s soldiers, particularly his encounter with General Tomas Arroyo. In the end, the incompatibility of the two countries (or, paradoxically, their intimacy) claims both men, in a novel that is, most of all, about the tragic history of two cultures in conflict. It was also made into a feature film in English starring Gregory Peck, Jane Fonda and Jimmy Smits. In Spanish: Gringo viejo

The Buried Mirror: Reflections on Spain and the New World Fuentes used the occasion of the 1992 quin-centennial of Columbus' voyage to the New World to reflect on the Latin American experience in this tie-in to the BBC series of the same name that was also aired on the Discovery Channel. The theme of his thoughtful essay is the accommodation of cultures--Spain unique in the Old World in bringing together Christians, Moors, and Jews and the New World intermingling the blood and cultures of Spaniards, Indians, and blacks. It is the unavoidable encounter with the Other that has shaped the New World experience: "When we exclude, we betray ourselves," counsels Fuentes. "When we include, we find ourselves." (David Keymer, SUNY Inst. of Technology, Utica, Library Journal Review) If you ever have the chance and if you can find it, the TV series is worth watching. In Spanish: El espejo enterrado: reflexiones sobre España y América

Written by Stefanie on May 16, 2012


Anonymous on May 16, 2012


Thank you for honoring his memory and work.


My pleasure. He always had interesting insights on Latin America and the United States. His observations will be missed. I got to hear him speak a couple of times (he scheduled lots of speaking engagements!) and he was engaging and provocative every time.

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