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Octavio Paz's Labyrinth of Solitude In his book The Laby

In his book The Labyrinth of Solitude, Octavio Paz attempts to define the Mexican character in an effort to explain the crisis he perceived his people to be undergoing. The book is a combination of sociology, history and philosophy, tracing the salient aspects of the Mexican people and their culture from the Aztec era through the present day. In his analysis of his culture, Paz comes to the conclusion that the Mexican people are characterized by one trait above all others: solitude. By reading deeply in Mexican history and poetry, Paz came to believe that solitude was that which creates and defines the Mexican people, as well as that which holds them back from fully participating in the political and cultural dialogue of the world. Mexico, by virtue of the nature of its people, is isolated.

Paz begins the book by describing how he came to reflect upon solitude in relationship to the people of Mexico. Paz lived in Los Angeles in the 1950s and observed the development of the pachuco culture, a phenomenon largely defined by distant, mocking attitudes and fashion that set Pachucos apart from contemporary urban society. His assessment of the phenomenon draws conclusions about the underlying meaning of pachuco culture. Implicit within the cultural stance of the Pachuco is a simultaneous resentment and separation from the society in which the person operates. This separation, Paz believes, is a philosophical position that did not emerge spontaneously as a response to racist attitudes but emerged as an expression of genuine Mexican culture. The culture is one of isolation, of separation, of aloneness. Therefore, that aloneness, or solitude, expresses itself within whatever culture a Mexican acts in. Solitude is deeply embedded in the Mexican psyche, from the country's beginnings to modern day.

Paz's thesis is that this solitude interferes with the culture's full participation in global society. Mexicans have been marginalized in numer...

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Octavio Paz's Labyrinth of Solitude In his book The Laby. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 17:02, December 07, 2021, from