Villaurrutia, Xavier (1903–1950)

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Villaurrutia, Xavier (1903–1950)

Xavier Villaurrutia (b. 27 March 1903; d. 25 December 1950), Mexican poet, crittic, and playwright. Villaurrutia was born and died in Mexico City. He belonged to the generation known as the Contemporaries. With Salvador Novo, he participated in the review and theatrical group Ulises. He studied drama at Yale (1935–1936) and was one of the first professional writers of his country. He wrote an avant-garde novel (Dama de corazones, 1928) and the plays Parece mentira (1934), ¿En qué piensas? (1938), and La hiedra (1941). His screenplays include Vámonos con Pancho Villa (1934) and Distinto amanecer (1943). He translated William Blake, André Gide, and many others and was a critic of literature, film, and the fine arts (Textos y pretextos, 1940). The most notable of his work, however, is his brief and rigorous poetry: Reflejos (1926), Nocturnos (1933), Décima muerte (1941), Canto a la primavera (1948), and especially Nostalgia de la muerte (Buenos Aires, 1938), in which the verbal creativity of the avant-garde is united with classic Spanish lyricism and a reflection on mortality reminiscent of Nahuatl poetry. His works were collected by Alí Chumacero, Luis Mario Schneider, and Miguel Capistrán (Obras, 2d ed. 1966). Eliot Weinenberg has translated Nostalgia for Death (1992), which includes an essay by Octavio Paz.

See alsoLiterature: Spanish America; Paz, Octavio.


Merlin H. Forster, Fire and Ice: The Poetry of Xavier Villaurrutia (1967).

Eugene Moretta, The Poetic Achievement of Xavier Villaurrutia (Cuernavaca, Mexico, 1971).

Octavio Paz, Xavier Villaurrutia en persona y en obra (1978).

Additional Bibliography

Hernández Rodríguez, Rafael. Una poética de la despreocupación: Modernidad e identidad en cuatro poetas latinoamericanos. Santiago: Editorial Cuarto Propio, 2003.

Oropesa, Salvador A. The Contemporáneos Group: Rewriting Mexico in the Thirties and Forties. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003.

Salmerón Tellechea, Cecilia. "Décima muerte de Xavier Villaurrutia o la simultaneidad de lo disímil." In Poéticas mexicanas del siglo XX, edited by Samuel Gordon. Mexico City: Ediciones y Gráficos Eón: Universidad Iberoamericana, 2004.

Sefamí, Jacobo. El destierro apacible y otros ensayos: Xavier Villaurrutia, Alí Chumacero, Fernando Pessoa, Francisco Cervantes, Haroldo de Campos. Tlahuapan, Mexico: Premiá, 1987.

Ulacia, Manuel. Xavier Villaurrutia, cincuenta años después de su muerte. Mexico City: Ediciones Sin Nombre: Conaculta, 2001.

                                            J. E. Pacheco