The Nobel Prize winning Octavio Paz was born in 1914, near Mexico City. His family was forced into exile, which they served in the United States, after the assassination of Mexican president Zapata, in 1919. Paz published his first collection of poems in 1931 entitled Caballera and two years later, at the age of nineteen, published the poetry collection Wild Moon. In 1937, at the height of the Spanish Civil War, Paz traveled to Spain in order to rally sympathy for the republican side. Upon returning, and being deeply affected by what he witnessed in Spain, Paz co-founded the literary journal Taller in 1938. In 1943 Paz received a Guggenheim Fellowship and he moved to the United States in order to study at the University of California, where he stayed for two years. In 1945 Paz became a Mexican diplomat and moved to Paris, where he would write his masterpiece The Labyrinth of Solitude (1950), a collection of nine essays regarding the Mexican identity. In 1962 Paz was appointed as the Mexican diplomat to India, and it was in India that Paz wrote the works The Monkey Grammarian and East Slope. During the 1968 Olympic Games, held in Mexico City, Paz resigned from his diplomatic position after government forces took up arms against pro-democracy student protesters. From 1970 to 1974 Paz lectured at Harvard University, where he was made an honorary doctor in 1980. In 1977, Paz was awarded the prestigious Jerusalem Prize for literature and in 1982 he was awarded the Neustadt Prize. It was in 1990 that Paz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for “impassioned writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity.” Paz died of cancer in 1998.
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