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Paz attains Nobel stature.

"Sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity" were the words used by the Swedish Academy of Letters October 11 in awarding the 1990 Nobel Prize for Literature to Octavio Paz, Mexico's prolific essayist, philosopher, translator and man of letters for more than 60 years.

The prize, which is worth $703,000, "means a great deal for a writer, not as a passport to immortality but for the possibility to have a wider audience," the 76-year-old Paz told the press at New York City's Drake Hotel where he was staying when he received the news.

For many years a candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature, Paz admitted to surprise when informed that he had been selected. In previous years, he said, "I was, in some way, waiting ..." But this time, he added, "I didn't have the slightest idea."

Paz thus becomes the fifth Latin American literary figure in recent years to win the coveted award. Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral won the prize in 1945, Guatemalan writer Miguel Angel Asturias in 1967, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda in 1971, and Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia' Marquez in 1982.

Paz is a celebrated intellectual who moves easily between the world of literature and politics. He has served in Mexico's diplomatic corps and is equally at home in Mexico, the U.S. or Europe.

"The Labyrinth of Solitude," (1950) for which Paz is best known, is a classic study of modern Mexico. His poetry has undergone continuing evolution of form, style and themes since he started writing at a young age. "Sun Stone," published in 1963, is perhaps his bestknown long poem, taking its form from the Aztec calendar. "The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz," an 800-page volume published in 1987, is probably his most elaborate work. His most recent poem, "A Tree Within," was published in 1988.

Paz' poems have been read in the U.S. and Latin America for over 30 years. Other works which have been read by a worldwide audience include "One Earth, Four or Five Worlds" and "Convergences: Essays on Art and Literature."

Paz speaks several languages. He learned to speak Hindi while serving as Mexico's ambassador to India in the 1960s. In the 1970s he founded a literary review, Vuelta, which seeks to introduce the thoughts and writings of European intellectuals to their counterparts in Latin America. He has been a visiting professor at Cambridge University in Great Britain and at several other universities in the U.S. including Harvard and the University of Texas.

In 1981 Paz was awarded the Cervantes Prize, the most pretigious literary award in the Spanish-speaking world, and the following year he was the recipient of the coveted American Neustadt Prize.

Paz' selection by the Nobel Prize Committee was widely hailed in Latin America and throughout the world. Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, called Paz "a great poet and a great essayist. He is also defending freedom and democracy, which is important and very unusual for Latin American intellectuals."
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Title Annotation:!Ojo!; Mexican writer Octavio Paz
Author:Goethals, Henry
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Article Type:column
Date:Sep 1, 1990
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