Download PDF:
For citation:

Gladoshchuk A.V. Poetics of Octavio Paz’s The Violent Season. Studia Litterarum, 2018, vol. 3, no 2, pp. 66–79. (In Russ.) DOI: 10.22455/2500-4247-2018-3-2-66-79

Author: Anastasia V. Gladoshchuk
Information about the author:

Anastasia V. Gladoshchuk, PhD student, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Leninskie gori, 1/51, 119991 Moscow, Russia.

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Received: November 01, 2017
Published: June 25, 2018
Issue: 2018 Vol. 3, №2
Department: World Literature
Pages: 66-79

UDK: 821(72)
BBK: 83.3(7Мек)6
Keywords: Octavio Paz, The Violent Season, Guillaume Apollinaire, intertext, poetical autobiography, poetry and history, universalism.


The poetics of Octavio Paz’s book The Violent Season (1958) is in great part defined by its autobiographical canvas: the sequence of the 9 poems that compose the lyrical series corresponds chronologically and geographically with Paz’s peregrinations during 9 years (1948–1957). Thus, the book can be read as a solid poetical text whose lyrical persona repeats Paz’s itinerary (Naples–Venice–Avignon–Paris–India– Tokyo–Geneva–Mexico), crossing the boundaries of different cultural spaces (the Mediterranean–the East–America) and the limits of his own self. The “plot” resembles that of Apollinaire whose intertextual presence is suggested by the title and by the epigraph. Similar to Apollinaire’s poems, the poetical conscience in The Violent Season synthesizes individual and collective memories — the memory of humankind and the memory of Mexican people in particular. This process reaches culmination in the closing text of the book — the poem “Sunstone” whose very structure conveys the idea of history sublimation. On the whole, the book scarcely reflects the poet’s life biography; some poems have conventional space and time that have no reference to specific geography or exact dates when they were written; the act of crossing cultural boundaries is inconspicuous. The autobiographical itinerary is barely outlined; its main function is to represent the archetypical “departure–and–return” scheme. The book’s stylistic homogeneity is evidence of the poet’s maturity; namely, he perceives heterogeneous manifestations of spiritual experience through the grid of universal categories and structures. In accordance to his desire to conciliate “tradition” and “adventure,” Paz appeals to Apollinaire, a poet whose aesthetics is the source of the modern art and therefore may be considered “universal.”


1 Velikovskii S.I. V skreshchen’e luchei: Ocherki frantsuzskoi poezii XIX-XX vekov [The crossing beams: Essays on the 19th–20th century French poetry]. Moscow, Tsentr gumanitarnykh initsiativ Publ., 2012. 415 p. (In Russ.)

2 Kofman A.F. Oktavio Pas [Octavio Paz]. Istoriia literatur Latinskoi Ameriki [The history of Latin American literatures]. Moscow, IMLI RAN Publ., 2005, vol. 5, pp. 352–405. (In Russ.)

3 Pernatye molnii: Meksikanskaia poeziia XX veka [Feathered lightning: Mexican poetry of the 20th century]. Moscow, Raduga Publ., 1988. 383 p. (In Russ.)

4 Apollinaire G. OEuvres poetiques. Paris, Editions Gallimard, 1990. 1267 p. (In French)

5 Brotherston G. Latin American Poetry: Origins and Presence. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1975. 228 p. (In English)

6 Correspondencia: Alfonso Reyes/Octavio Paz (1939–1959). Mexico, Fundacion Octavio Paz; Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1999. 261 p. (In Spanish)

7 Paz O. La estacion violenta. Mexico, Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1958. 85 p. (In Spanish)

8 Paz O. Libertad bajo palabra. Obra poetica (1935–1958). Mexico, Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1960. 317 p. (In Spanish)

9 Paz O. Obras completas: en 15 vol. Mexico, Fondo de Cultura Economica; Circulo de lectores, 1994. T. 2: Excursiones/Incursiones. Dominio extranjero. 606 p. ; Mexico, Fondo de Cultura Economica; Circulo de lectores, 2003. T. 15: Miscelanea III. Entrevistas. 754 p. (In Spanish)

10 Paz O. Jardines errantes: Cartas a J.C. Lambert (1952–1992). Barcelona, Seix Barral, 2008. 243 p. (In Spanish)

11 Stanton A. El rio reflexivo: Poesia y ensayo en Octavio Paz (1931–1958). Mexico, Fondo de Cultura Economica, 2015. 526 p. (In Spanish)