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González Martínez, Enrique (1871–1952)

González Martínez, Enrique (1871–1952)

Enrique González Martínez (b. 13 April 1871; d. 19 February 1952), Mexican poet. A central figure in the literary life of the nation from the beginning of the Revolution until his death at mid-century, González Martínez was trained as a physician but spent most of his career in public service. His early poetry reflects the turn-of-the-century modernista techniques, and in the 1920s there are traces of vanguardista influences; he is noted, however, for his consistent, profound exploration of personal experience and metaphysical searching through his art. He is a master of traditional forms, especially of the sonnet; his language evolves toward simplicity; biblical and classical allusions are common, but never recondite. The condition of solitude, a certain pantheistic urging, a longing for lucidity and transcendent vision, the "resplendent moment," give shape to much of his work. An occasional trace of didacticism may also be found.

The early period culminates in the definition of his voice in Silénter (1909) and Los senderos ocultos (1911). The latter collection includes the sonnet "Tuércele el cuello al cisne" ("Wring the Swan's Neck"), his most anthologized poem, often misread as marking the end of modernismo. González Martínez is best understood as one of the most important exponents of the symbolist strain in modernismo as it has subsequently evolved. Parábolas y otros poemas (1918), El romero alucinado (1923), and Las señales furtivas (1925) are major collections of his middle period. His later poetry is marked by the death of his wife and of his son, Enrique González Rojo (1899–1939), also a poet. These works include Ausencia y canto (1937), El diluvio de fuego (1938), Bajo el signo mortal (1942), and El nuevo Narciso y otros poemas (1952). The "Estancias," twenty-one octaves and a concluding sonnet that open this last collection, are an exceptionally beautiful summing up of his life and art. He wrote an autobiography published in two parts, El hombre del buho (1944) and La apacible locura (1951). He was a fine translator of French poetry. In 1911 he was elected to the Mexican Academy, and he was a member of the Ateneo de la Juventud and a founding member of the Colegio Nacional (1943).

See alsoLiterature: Spanish America; Mexico: Since 1910.


Antonio Castro Leal edited a fine edition of the Obras completas (1971). The fundamental study of the poet is John S. Brushwood, Enrique González Martínez (1969). Many important critical articles were collected by José Luis Martínez in La obra de Enrique González Martínez (1951). See also José Manuel Topete, El mundo poético de Enrique González Martínez (1967), and Harry L. Rosser, "Enrique González Martínez: 'Matacisnes' y concepción estética," in Cuadernos Americanos 243 (1982): 181-188.

Additional Bibliography

Rivera-Rodas, Oscar. El pensar de la modernidad poética. Guadalajara, Jal., México: Secretaría de Cultura, Gobierno de Jalisco, 1997.

                                   Michael J. Doudoroff

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