Agustín, José (1944–)

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Agustín, José (1944–)

José Agustín (b. 19 August 1944), Mexican novelist born José Agustín Ramírez Gómez. In his novel La tumba, a youth-centered narrative rejecting middle-class morality and the clichés of nationalism, and celebrating pleasure and self-exploration, Agustín uses street slang to create a lively, ironic narrative voice. With its publication in 1964, Agustín (together with Gustavo Sainz) founded the literary movement known as "La Onda." In what is perhaps his best novel to date, Se está haciendo tarde (final en laguna) (1973), Agustín engages in a self-critique of the potential narcissism and alienation of such individualistic quests. In Ciudades desiertas (1982), based on his experiences in the University of Iowa's International Writing Program, the author advocates a return to the family and monogamy and to Mexican national culture, while lampooning the sterility of life in the United States. This reconciliation is extended to the family in Cerca del fuego (1986), in which the author attempts to fuse anti-imperialist and Jungian discourses.

As the preeminent enfant terrible of his generation, Agustín has maintained an irreverent, independent leftist stance (from his participation in the Cuban literacy campaign to his attacks on Mexican literary mafias and censorship). His three volume history of contemporary Mexico, Tragicomedia mexicana 1: La vida en Mexico de 1940 a 1970 (1990), Tragicomedia mexicana 2: La vida en Mexico de 1970 a 1982 (1992), and Tragicomedia mexicana 3: La Vida en mexico de 1982 a 1994 (1998), reflects this position.


Margo Glantz, "La onda diez años después: ¿Epitafio o revalorización?" in her Repeticiones: Ensayos sobre liter-atura mexicana (1979), pp. 115-129.

June CD. Carter and Donald L. Schmidt, José Agustín: Onda and Beyond (1986).

Cynthia Steele, "Apocalypse and Patricide: Cerca del fuego (1986), by José Agustín," in her Politics, Gender, and the Mexican Novel, 1968–1988: Beyond the Pyramid (1992), pp. 110-142.

Additional Bibliography

Calvillo, Ana Luisa. José Agustín: Una biografía de perfil. México, D.F.: Blanco y Negro Editores, 1998.

Kim Lee, Joong. Cultura y sociedad de México en la obra de José Agustín. Guadalajara, Jalisco, México: Universidad de Guadalajara, 2000.

                                          Cynthia Steele