Revueltas, José (1914–1976)

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Revueltas, José (1914–1976)

José Revueltas (b. 20 November 1914; d. 14 April 1976), Mexican writer and activist. Revueltas was born in the state of Durango to an exceptional family in which all the children were outstanding artists: Silvestre, a musician; Fermin, a painter; and Rosaura, an actress. José mastered the novel and the short story like few others. El luto humano (1943), Los errores (1964), and El apando (1969) are outstanding works in Mexican and Latin American literature due to their rigorous style and uncommon ambition as well as their austere, anecdotal expression of the great ideological conflicts of our time. He also wrote dramas and screenplays and some of the most important essays in twentieth-century Mexico.

But Revueltas's work cannot be reduced merely to his literary production. He was also one of the most intense, honest, and contradictory personalities in twentieth-century Mexico. A militant Marxist from adolescence until death, Revueltas was imprisoned several times for his ideas. The last time, from 1968 to 1971, was for his role as a leader of the student movement of 1968 that resulted in the massacre of Tlatelolco. Even his very funeral was an unforgettably moving political act. At the cemetery the mostly young crowd sang "The International" and other revolutionary songs. When the minister of education tried to speak, he was shouted down and forced to leave—very much in keeping with Revueltas's opposition to hypocrisy and illegitimate power.

Revueltas's work is a vast drama in which is represented the struggle to make public and private life, art and the exercise of thought, one singular and great undertaking of redemption and sacrifice for those oppressed in "this somber period in history," as he himself called our era. With such a messianic sensibility, it is not strange that his dramas combine the biblical and the mundane, the prophetic and the grotesque, the degraded and the sublime. He considered his life and his writing to be examples, nothing more and nothing less, of the simple destiny of a human being.

See alsoLiterature: Spanish America; Tlatelolco.


Sam Slick, José Revueltas (1983).

Additional Bibliography

Arias Urrutia, Angel. Entre la cruz y la sospecha: Los cristeros de Revueltas, Yáñez y Rulfo. Madrid: Iberoamericana; and Frankfurt am Main: Vervuert, 2005.

Cheron, Philippe. El árbol de oro: José Revueltas y el pesimismo ardiente. Ciudad Juárez: Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez, 2003.

Cluff, Russell M. Cuento mexicano moderno. Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and Xalapa: Universidad Veracruzana: Editorial Aldus, 2000.

Durán, Javier. José Revueltas: Una poética de la disidencia. Xalapa: Universidad Veracruzana, 2002.

Fuentes Morua, Jorge. José Revueltas: Una biografía intelectual. Mexico City: Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Unidad Iztapalapa: M.A. Porrúa, 2001.

                                  Jorge Aguilar Mora