(2012) #65 review: Itinerary

Itinerary:
An Intellectual Journey

by

Octavio PAZ

Translated by Jason Wilson

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2000
Published first in Spanish in 1995

Itinerary

THIS BOOK COUNTS FOR THE FOLLOWING
READING CHALLENGES

            

    

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

rating system

Octavio Paz’s Itinerary through space was varied: time in Spain (an educative time where he discovered Criticism), 10 years in the US, then post-war years in Paris, where he met the French giant writers of the time (Aragon, Eluard, Mauriac, Malraux, René Char and Sartre, to list a few), and finally some time in South East Asia as a diplomat.

So this short book is rich of his diversified experience, in areas of philosophy, literature and politics.

This led to what I would call a haunting questionnement on the identity and place of Mexico in the world. He analyses here the Mexican revolution and presents a dialectical history between solitude and communion, with reflections on revolt/revolution, tradition/modernity.

Most of his life he was haunted by the question of the true historical nature of the Soviet Union.

There are meaningful passages on nationalism (pp.79-80) and democracy.

Finally, I would say this little dense book by Mexico’s Nobel Prize of literature is the perfect illustration of “his solitary solidarity” with the world; this is a phrase he uses on p.61 to define Camus.

FAVORITE QUOTATIONS

“We must find ways of humanizing the market; otherwise, it will devour us and devour the planet.” P.85

“Freedom and education for everybody, contrary to what the Enlightenment believed, has led us not to become familiar with Plato or Cervantes but to reading comics and best-sellers.” p.86

How can democracy, that presupposes implicitly a static society or one endowed with a circular movement, adapt itself to modern societies that worship change? p.89

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

 Itinerary is somewhat autobiographical, for it is the story of the evolution of my political ideas. An intellectual biography but also a sentimental and even passionate one: what I thought and think about my time is inseparable from what I felt and feel. Itinerary is the story and description of a journey through time, from one point to another, from my youth to my present moment. The line that traces this plan is neither straight nor circular but a spiral that turns back ceaselessly and ceaselessly distances itself from the point of departure. What we are living today brings me close to what I lived seventy years back and, simultaneously, irremediably and definitively distances me. Strange lesson: there is no turning back but there is no point of arrival. We are in transit. Itinerary is the final work of a great thinker and magnificent writer. [Goodreads]

Octavio Paz

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Awarded the 1990 Nobel Prize in Literature “for impassioned writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity.”

 

REVIEWS BY OTHERS

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6 thoughts on “(2012) #65 review: Itinerary

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