Quotes I Love: Paris Review – The Art of Poetry No. 42, Octavio Paz

Selected_Poems._Octavio_Paz_ I really enjoyed this interview with Octavio Paz.  I believe it  was done in 1990 or ’91 but  if you know for sure please  correct me.

I pulled a few great quotes I thought I’d share:

 “Private lives are not historical. During the French or  American revolutions, or during  the wars between the  Persians and the Greeks—during any great, universal  event—  history changes continually. But people live, work,  fall in love, die, get sick, have  friends, moments of  illumination or sadness, and that has nothing to do with  history.  Or very little to do with it.”  

This makes me feel really small and really big at the same  time.  It’s not something I’d  ever thought of before, but it  makes a lot of sense.  Our lives are small enough to be so  inconsequential to the whole of human history, yet large  enough to transcend it.  Or rather strong enough to be a  constant in human history that never bends and withstands  time.
 “Yes, history is our landscape or setting and we live through  it. But the real drama, the real comedy also, is within us,  and I think we can say the same for someone of the fifth century or for someone of a future century. Life is not historical, but something more like nature. ”
“Yes, but there was also the political, or to be more precise, the moral aspect. My political and intellectual beliefs were kindled by the idea of fraternity. We all talked a lot about it. For instance, the novels of André Malraux, which we all read, depicted the search for fraternity through revolutionary action. My Spanish experience did not strengthen my political beliefs, but it did give an unexpected twist to my idea of fraternity. One day—Stephen Spender was with me and might remember this episode—we went to the front in Madrid, which was in the university city. It was a battlefield. Sometimes in the same building the Loyalists would only be separated from the Fascists by a single wall. We could hear the soldiers on the other side talking. It was a strange feeling: those people facing me—I couldn’t see them but only hear their voices—were my enemies. But they had human voices, like my own. They were like me.”

To read the full interview (DO IT) :Paris Review – The Art of Poetry No. 42, Octavio Paz.



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