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This is a dense re-telling of Octavio Paz’s nexus to surrealism and particular link to André Breton. It tells of the role played by the poet Benjamín Péret in this long relationship, which the Mexican writer sums up as a moral bond: “My friendship with the surrealists, especially with Breton and Péret, began when the movement was no longer a flame. But it remained an ember that could light up the imagination and warm the spirit during the arid cold-war years.” Paz came to surrealism late since conflicting ideologies led him to keep his distance from Breton during the French writer’s visit to Mexico in 1938: “it seemed to me that his criticism of the politics of the Third International was strengthening our enemies and weakening the Spanish popular front and the Republican cause. Somewhat later, I became aware of my error . . . .”


This is a very personal story of the moral/political views of Octavio Paz (1914-1998) in regard to André Breton (1896-1966) and the surrealists. In fact, the text represents the testimony of an old militant from the Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarios (LEAR) [League of Revolutionary Writers and Artists]. Years later, this position would be the subject of Paz’s most honest self-criticism.

Francisco Reyes Palma
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
© 1994 by Marie José Paz. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.
Biblioteca Central de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México