Carlos Fuentes
Lecture Date: 4-19-1991
Click the link below to listen ot his celebrity's lecture:
Interview: Introductions for Mexican author Carlos Fuentes are made by Dean John Eadie of the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State University and Professor George Mansour, chair person of the Department of Romance and Classical Languages. Mansour describes how Fuentes' diverse background led him to become a writer of great perspective and vision. At the beginning of his lecture, Fuentes recalls a theory that existed during his early writing career in the 1950s, suggesting that the novel was dead and had been replaced by other elements of the media and society, including movies and politics. Fuentes recounts his personal struggle to discover what only the novel could offer and eventually concluded that the medium acts as a form of communication across cultures. The author explains his reasoning for choosing to compose in Spanish rather than English. For Fuentes, language is the vehicle to express culture. The author reads in Spanish from his works in order to demonstrate the importance of tradition to literary creation. He clarifies that this process of translation or "verbal imagination" relates to the dual nature of literature, which looks both backward into the past and forward into the future. The clash of past and future creates different voices within a novel, and these voices represent different facets of tradition. Fuentes believes that it is his duty to express the complicated nature of Latin American culture. There is great continuity in the cultural life of Latin America, despite its fragmentation in political life. He goes on to discuss “the importance of culture,” illustrating this point by reading from another of his works. At the end of the clip Fuentes responds to questions from the audience, and covers topics such as his television series and the difficulties of this visual medium, the translation of his works, magical realism, the role of politics for the novelist, and the celebration of culture.
Biography: Carlos Fuentes (1928- ), a Mexican writer and editor, is also an accomplished diplomat, having served as head of the department of cultural relations in Mexico’s ministry of foreign affairs (1950-1959) and as the Mexican ambassador to France (1975-1977). His fiction generally deals with themes of Mexican identity and history, including such works as La región más transparente (1958; tr. Where the Air Is Clear, 1960), The Campaign (1990, tr. 1991), and Inez (2002). He has also written numerous essays and short stories along with the nonfiction book, The Buried Mirror (1992) which is a study of Spanish and Latin American cultural history.