Carlos Fuentes

Carlos Fuentes was born in Panama City in 1928. The son of a Mexican diplomat, he spent his childhood in the United States and various Latin American countries. Despite literary leanings he studied Law in Mexico City. Upon finishing he prepared for a career in the diplomatic service at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Internationales in Geneva upon which he successfully embarked – despite criticising his own governments. He was Mexico’s Ambassador to Paris between 1975 and 1977. Alongside his political activities he was active in the cultural sphere and as a writer. He published short stories and was the Editor of various magazines. His breakthrough came with the publication of »La región más transparente« (Eng. »Where the Air is Clear«, 1960) in 1958. His second novel, »La muerte de Artemio Cruz« (1962; Eng. »The Death of Artemio Cruz«, 1964), contributed to the international boom of Latin American literature, and since then Fuentes has belonged to that stable. Like Vargas Llosa and García Márquez, his opinion is often asked regarding developments in his country.

Politically and literarily, textually and formally, Fuentes stands for an openmindedness towards foreign influences. He appropriates European and Anglo-American ways of narration and integrates techniques such as interior monologue, flashback and fragmentation. The preoccupation with myth and history creates – through the use of various narrative perspectives disrupted through leaps in time – complex historical tableaux and spaces open to interpretation. Shaping the style of Magical Realism, a zesty stream of consciousness unites the historical and the fantastical together with a wealth of images and allusions. The imposing »Terra Nostra« (1975), which deals with the cultural influences of Mexico’s polyphony, could be called a standard work of Mexican identity. Its arc spans from sixteenth-century Spain to the conquest of the kingdom of the Incas to »another world« (as it says in the book) of fantasy.

Fuentes has taught at several American universities, among them New York University, Princeton, and Harvard. In 2002 he published »En esto creo« (Eng. »This I Believe«, 2004), a kind of encyclopedia of confessions. In 2004 he issued »Contra Bush«, an essay against the policies of the current government of the United States. Fuentes has published over fifty books, among them plays and film scripts. He has won the Premio Villarutia (1975), the Premio Cervantes (1987) and the Premio Príncipe de Asturias (1994), and has honorary doctorates from various universities including the Free University of Berlin (2004). He lived between Mexico City and London. Carlos Fuentes died on May 15th 2012 in the age of 84 in Mexico City.

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