LITERATURE

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Adorning a truly spectacular visual of conspicuous and astoundingly rich culture, customs and ethnicity, Mexico is a nation not only acclaimed for its lush diversity but also for housing some of the most internationally celebrated and fabled authors scilicet Carlos Fuentes, Octavia Paz, Juan Rulfo, Fernando Del Paso and a myriad of others. The nation is garnished with affluent contemporary as well as historical literary works which dives and explores the community’s culture. Bedecked in literary erudite the history of Mexican literature has voyaged eons and mutated strikingly.

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The interior of the José Vasconcelos Library

Works of authors like Octavio Paz’s “The Labyrinth of Solitude”, opens doors into the rich culture and traditional lifestyle of Mexico and the Mexicans. The words portray Mexico in its vividly rich ancestry and exquisite beauty all along sifting through the relationship between the different eras of the indigenous Mexicans, the arriving Spanish and the contemporary Mexicans of the 20th century. Mexico is a nation that has swayed along with the influence garnered from the French, Spanish and even the United States and in the quest lost its own indigeneity. Its history is colored seeking its own parentage and origin. Paz communicates through his work shedding life onto the artistic community of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century where the indigenous art forms, which had drifted in the midst of all other cultures, emerged after centuries. The Mexicans took pride in its Castilian, Moorish and Aztec heritage and filled the literary canvas with splendor of the past.

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Wordsmiths like John Steinbeck followed in the wake of Paz producing words that made what Paz narrated even more accessible and penetrable to the public.

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Pre- Hispanic era

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The pre-colonial Mesoamericans fostered a fashion of literary works that were predominantly annexed through verbal elucidation. The work of the indigenous Mexicans, dominantly categorizing the lyrical works or mythological memorization, casted light on mores of the pre Columbian customs and traditions. While multitudes were lost in the echo of oral tradition, some of the literary oeuvres of the Nahuas’ and other natives were conserved by the Spanish priests and the missionaries of the sixteenth century by metamorphosing the works using Latin. “Visión de los vencidos. Relaciones indígenas de la Conquista” or “Historia de la literatura Náhuatl”, these lyrical composition has today helped garner the sagacity of the affluence of the indigenous culture as has the works of Acolmiztli Nezahualcoyotl, titled as the Poet King. The largest sample of pre Columbian literature preserved into the modern era can be found in the works of nobles of Nahuatlaca people of the Altiplano and the Tecayehuatzin of Huexotzinco. The literary stocks recovered from the Purepecha, Zapotec and Mixtec is classified among the works of the Postclassical Era. Other pre-Columbian literature writings like the Popol Vuh (Book of counsel) comprise the handiwork of the quiche people composed in the quiche language.

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Nezahualcoyotl, the poet-king

The colonial era

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The colonial evolution of the era hauled with itself new customs and culture, ones that blended with the prevalent to forge a plaque that shone with uniqueness and eccentricity.

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  • Sixteenth century: The sixteenth century Mexico was laved in the influence of the indigenous themes intermixed with the Spanish culture and point of views. The works of the era presented forth the local views and the hybrid culture. Swathed in a garb of the momentous history the chronicles were chiefly colored in words representing the conquests and colonization. The then Mexico housed historic writers such as Bernardo de Balbuena. 
  • Seventeenth century: The commencement of the seventeenth century witnessed a bloom in the baroque literature that laved the works with a characteristic European semblance. Anagram, emblems and mazes lugged the spotlight as poetry, drama and lyric sailed in the literary river that bore resemblance to that of the Spanish writers like Góngora and Quevedo. Authors of the century namely Arias Villalobos, Diego de Llano, Diego de Ribera, clinched prosperity in their field of work.

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Coaxed by the Spanish renaissance the literary revolution highlighted itself in the writings of the Mexican authors who veered towards the ascending European vogues.

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  • Eighteenth century: The end of eighteenth century in Mexico alongside witnessing the end of colonization beheld the emanation of the erudite artists like José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi, sporting legendary and emblematic compositions like El Periquillo Sarniento, La Quijotita y su Prima and Don Catrín dela Fachenda. Works mostly reflected the enlightenment ideas as the authors decorated their chronicles with their perception of nature and the society.
  • The first half of the century’s highlight however was the Baroque tendencies and lyrical and spiritual poetry authors indulged in.
  • The latter half saw the rise of neoclassical literature where the body of work casted light on the currents thoughts of reforms plaguing the Mexican air.
Jose Joaquin Fernandez de Lizardi

As the years swept by Mexico in the nineteenth century bore hallmarks of political instability in the light of clinching autonomy from the Spanish colonial rule. Mexican literature alongside all other realms of art witnessed an oscillation from the conventional setting but this unsettling and flustering spell graduated to its demise at the latter half of the century, charging and revitalizing the air Mexican air with works such as Los Mexicanos Pintados Por Si Mismos, which gave insight on how the intellectuals of the period viewed their contemporaries. The Mexicans authors like Amado Nervo and Manuel Gutierrez Najera, adopted the prevailing common tendencies. The literary trends forked into romanticism, realism- naturalism, and modernism generating works the Mexican history had not documented yet.

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  • Romanticism: among the risings trends in the literary work romanticism was the most famed. Celebrated poets such as the Cuban Jose Maria de Heredia was among the first to be swayed by the transformation in the literary course. His words presented forth a charge of emotion that beheld a sinew of romanticism within its core. The romantic inclination for local landscapes and national themes continued being depicted in works of Juan Zorrilla de San Martin.
  • Modernism: a new literary movement brewed within the Mexican air. Nicaraguan Rubén Darío held the flame of this movement that had swept through the Latin America. Composing poetry of uncompromising aesthetic beauty refined with a modern flair, he floated away from the sentimentality of romanticism. Obsessed with exoticism and particularly oriental subjects and objects his works dived into a language that experimented with metrics, inner rhythm of prose, rhyme and asymmetrical stanzas to manifest a sonorous language. The themes were dressed in daring decadent fashion. Dario’s Prosas Profanas (“lay prose”) found itself in scandalous lights with its daring title with the verse projecting a sense of aristocracy. His works matured with time and this was showcased in his published work, Cantos de Vida y Esperanza (“songs of life and hope”). It ws less haughty and more on the scale of sober, somber and mature where he introduced political topics garbed in an anti- protestant stance which fostering pan- Hispanic identity. The duration of this modernism movement was curtailed with the early demise of the fellow modernists scilicet Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera, Amado Nervo.

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Twentieth century cemented to be the stepping stone for Mexico’s journalistic realm. This genre of literature brought along the theme of revolution that unfurled its wings in the chronicles and dramas of the timeline. Featuring novels and plays this flowering nationalistic literature harboring civil conflict and literary movements struck the Mexican air. Authors like Rosario Castellanos, Juan Rulfo, Ricardo Pozas and Francisco Rojas Gonzalez rose to dominate the literary world. Alongside this nationalistic theme, indigenous literature bloomed which centered along the life and thoughts of the indigenous people of Mexico. Though ironically none of the authors were indigenous. Towards the latter half of the twentieth century the Mexican literature diversified in styles, themes and genres.

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Mariano Azuela

Every era saw the birth of writers painting the detailed characteristics of their timeline garnishing the society’s crusts and troughs alongside pivoting towards the predominant social, political and economic dilemmas the community encountered. The nation’s wordsmiths are the voice of public bestowing the nation with a hand in shaping and molding thoughts of mass at every level and has also vouchsafed Mexico with national as well as international literary awards.

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Mexico has the second most Miguel de Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious literary award in the Spanish language.

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LANGUAGE

The crusading diversity invigorates Mexico not only in the socio- economical, customs and traditional, and literary light but also with the plethora of indigenous languages the nation harbors. Mother to sixty eight national languages embodying Spanish, Nahualt, Maya, Mixtec, sixty three of them are indigenous to the nation. Though the lion’s share of the community is monolingual in Spanish the government has declared the language to be de facto. The priests and the churchmen of the sixteenth century Mexico doctored themselves in indigenous as well as Castilian and Latin languages all with the motive of evangelizing the natives in Christian doctrine. A nation so strong in its cultural statute and beliefs that sets it apart from all other nations, Mexico bears a linguistic coexistence from the commencement of the colonial era and doctrines the law of linguistic rights to insulate the native Mexican Language and promote bilingual and intercultural education.

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