del Paso, Fernando 1935-
del PASO, Fernando 1935-
PERSONAL: Born April 10, 1935, in Mexico City, Mexico; married. Education: Attended University National Autónoma de México.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Random House Mondadori, Homero 544, Col. Chapultepec Morales, México, D.F. 11570.
CAREER: Novelist, diplomat, painter, and journalist. British Broadcast Corporation (BBC), London, England, publicist and newscaster, beginning 1970; worked in advertising in Mexico; Radio France Internationale, Paris, France, member of staff, beginning 1985; Mexican Embassy, Paris, cultural attaché, then general consul until 1986; Bibliotheca Iberoamericana Octavio Paz, Guadalajara, Mexico, director. Painter, beginning 1973. Exhibitions: Work has been exhibited at galleries, including Museum of Modern Art, Mexico City; Institute of Contemporary Art, London, England; Carrillo Gil Museum, Mexico City; Galería Juana Mordo, Spain; and Hospicio Cabañas, Guadalajara, Mexico; his exhibition "Destrucción del Orden" toured Mexican cities, 1999.
AWARDS, HONORS: Xavier Villaurrutia prize, 1966, for José Trigo; Prix du Meilleur Roman Étranger (France), 1975; Rómulo Gallegos prize (Venezuela), 1982, Casa de las Américas prize, 1985, and Premio Médicis, 1986, all for Palinuro de México; Premio Mazatlán, 1987, for Noticias de imperio; Premio Nacional de Linguística y Literatura, 1991; elected to el Colegio Nacional, 1996; Ford Foundation grant; Guggenheim fellowship.
Sonetos del amor y de lo diario (poetry), Cuadernos del Unicornio (Mexico City, Mexico), 1958, reprinted, Vuelta (Mexico City, Mexico), 1997.
José Trigo, Siglo Veintiuno (Mexico City, Mexico), 1966, reprinted, 1999.
Palinuro de México, Alfaguara (Madrid, Spain), 1977, translated by Elizabeth Plaister as Palinuro of Mexico, Quartet (London, England), 1989, Dalkey Archive Press (Normal, IL), 1996.
Noticias del imperio (title means "News from the Empire"), Diana (Mexico City, Mexico), 1987, reprinted, Plaza y Janés (Barcelona, Spain), 2000.
La loca de Miramar (monolog), produced, 1988.
De la A a la Z por un poeta (for children), Origen, 1990.
Paleta de diez colores (for children), illustrated by Vicente Rojo, Centro de Información y Desarrollo de la Comunicación y la Literatura Infantil/Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1992.
(Author of prologue) Flores en México, Todo color (Mexico City, Mexico), 1992.
Palinuro en las escalera (play; based on novel Palinuro de México), Diana (Mexico City, Mexico), 1992.
Memoria y olvido de Juan José Arreola, 1920-1947 (biography), Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (Mexico City, Mexico), 1994, 2nd edition, 1996.
Linda 67. Historia ed un crimen, Plaza y Janéz (Mexico City, Mexico), 1996.
(With Migue León Portilla) Yo soy un hombre de letras: discurso (speech), Colegio Nacional (Mexico City, Mexico), 1996.
La muerte se va a Granada: poema dramático en dos actos, Alfaguara (Col. de Valle, Mexico), 1998.
Cuentos dispersos (stories), edited by Alejandro Toledo, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Mexico City, Mexico), 1999.
Obras (collected works), two volumes, Colegio Nacional/Fondo de Cultura Económica (Mexico City, Mexico), 2000.
Ensayo y obra periodística, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Mexico City, Mexico), 2002.
Contributor to periodicals, including Diálogos.
Author's works have been translated into English, French, German, Portuguese, Dutch, and Chinese.
SIDELIGHTS: Hailed as one of the most significant Mexican novelists of his generation, Fernando del Paso writes of his country with an eye to the past and a compassion for Mexico's culture and people. Noting in an essay for Contemporary World Writers that del Paso pens works that bring alive for readers "the essence of Mexican culture and civilization," Robert Kirsner added that the novelist creates an interplay of "fact and fiction … within the fabric of his eventful accounts to depict the past as an undying, ever-present organism that reflects the Mexican way of life, emphasizing its foibles as well as its feats." Del Paso is not a writer for every reader; in fact, as George R. McMurray noted in World Literature Today, despite the many literary awards he has received, the Mexicanborn novelist "does not appeal to a broad reading audience but rather to academics and sophisticates." In an interview with Ilan Stavans for Review of Contemporary Fiction, del Paso characterized himself as a "baroque writer, extravagant and immoderate. … At the same time," he added, "I've gone from an extremely complicated to a more accessible style. … My artistic route has been from excessive complexity to relative simplicity."
Although his first published work was a poetry collection released in 1958, del Paso has since focused on novel-length fiction. Seven years in the writing, his 1966 work José Trigo was immediately recognized as an accomplished work that brings to life the qualities of the average Mexican, and was awarded the Xavier Villaurrutia prize. This novel was followed more than a decade later by Palinuro de México, a 650-page work that became a cult favorite upon its publication in France during the early 1980s. "Storyless in the orthodox sense, though narrative-driven in the postmodern, search-for-meaning tradition" according to Los Angeles Times Book Review contributor Charlotte Innes, the novel "transforms a potentially daunting literary experiment into something that's enormously fun to read. For del Paso tries nothing less than to pin down the very essence of life, and he does this by examining all the evidence we have, from the physicality of the human body and the world around us to the more nebulous reaches of human thought." The story finds a young medical student named Palinuro learning to balance intellectual passion with fun by engaging in pranks with his fellow students and entering into a sexual liaison with his cousin Estefania. Noting the influences of James Joyce's Ulysses and the novels of Gabriel García Márquez, Times Literary Supplement contributor Robin Fiddian explained that, even in the English translation of the novel, Palinuro of Mexico, del Paso "pays homage to, and extends the achievements of" his literary predecessors in a work that reflects the "values of love, companionship, solidarity and renewal, and its author's unshakeable belief in the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity."
One of del Paso's most acclaimed works, 1987's Noticias del imperio took the author a decade to write. A history of both Mexico and Europe beginning in 1864, the year members of the European Habsburg dynasty attempted to take the throne of Mexico at the bidding of Napoleon III, the novel follows the revolution that followed, as Benito Juárez rises to fight the attempted takeover by Maximilian and his wife Carlotta. Including dialogues between Juárez and his secretary and the ill-fated Maximilian and his wife, as well as through fictional letters and factual accounts, del Paso relates much of his story through twelve monologues expressing the troubled recollections of an aged Empress Carlotta, whom the death of whose husband before a firing squad on the orders of newly installed President Juárez has propelling into madness.
Del Paso's 1996 novel, Linda 67, breaks with the author's exploration of Mexican history and culture. It is a mystery novel set in California that finds a beautiful heiress targeted for murder by a greedy spouse. Despite the novel's seeming departure from the "baroque" style of del Paso's earlier works, some critics found more to the novel upon viewing it through an academic lens. As Fiddian noted in his The Novels of Fernando del Paso, Linda 67 is significant in that it "is arguably the most self-consciously intertextual of del Paso's novels and the most exclusively postmodern."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary World Writers, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1993, pp. 397-398.
Fiddian, Robin W., The Novels of Fernando del Paso, University Press of Florida (Gainsville, FL), 2000.
Tradition and Renewal: Essays on Twentieth-Century Latin American Literature and Culture, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1975.
Childhood Education, winter, 1993, p. 110.
Comparative Literature Studies, summer, 1982, Robin Fiddian, "A Case of Literary Infection: Palinuro de México and Ulysses," pp. 220-235.
Insula, number 455, 1984, Robin W. Fiddian, "James Joyce and Fernando del Paso."
Library Journal, January, 1996, Rafael M. Gonzalez, review of Linda 67, p. 80.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, July 21, 1996, review of Palinuro of Mexico, pp. 1, 8.
Review of Contemporary Fiction, spring, 1996, Ilan Stavans, "An Interview with Fernando del Paso."
Times Literary Supplement, December 15, 1989, Robin Fiddian, review of Palinuro of Mexico, p. 1386.
Washington Post Book World, September 1, 1996, Alfred Mac Adam, review of Palinuro of Mexico, p. 6.
World Literature Today, winter, 1982, Alfred J. Mac Adam, review of Palinuro de México, pp. 81-82; autumn, 1993, George R. McMurray, review of Palinuro en la escalera, pp. 781-782.
Colegio Nacional Web Site,http://www.colegionacional.org/ (September 5, 2002), "Fernando del Paso."
Fernando del Paso, escritor Mexicano (film), Films for the Humanities and Sciences (Princeton, NJ), 1998.*