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Last edited by VacuumBot
June 6, 2012 | History

Reyes, Alfonso

1889 - 1959

(17 May 1889, Monterrey, Nuevo León – 27 December 1959, Mexico City) was a Mexican writer, philosopher, and diplomat. He was son of General Don Bernardo Reyes y Ogazón, and of Doña Aurelia Ochoa y Sapi'sn de Reyes. He was educated primarily in Mexico City. In 1909, he and other like-minded young intellectuals such as Martín Luis Guzmán and José Vasconcelos, founded the "Ateneo de la Juventud" a cultural society to promote new cultural and aesthetic ideals and educational reform in Mexico. At the age of 21, he published his first book "Cuestiones Estéticas". The following year, 1912, he wrote a short story "La Cena", considered a forerunner of surrealism and of Latin American magical realism. In that year he was also named Secretary of the "Escuela Nacional de Altos Estudios" at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
He obtained his law degree in 1913 and joined Mexico's diplomatic service in France. From 1914 to 1924, he was posted in Madrid (Spain), and was Mexico's Chargé d'affaires, 1920-24. He also pursued a literary career as journalist, investigator, translator, critic, and writer. By virtue of this extended stay in Madrid, he was spared the violence of the Mexican Revolution. In 1915, he wrote what is probably his best known essay, "Visión de Anáhuac (1519)," with its famous epigraph, "Viajero: has llegado a la región más transparente del aire", the source of the title of Carlos Fuentes's novel "La región más transparente".

He continued his diplomatic service in Paris (1925-27), then served as ambassador to Argentina (1927-30 and 1936-37) and Brazil (1930-35 and 1938-39). In 1939, he retired from the diplomatic corps and returned to Mexico, where he organized what is today "El Colegio de México" and dedicated himself to writing and teaching.

The great Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges paid homage to the excellence of Reyes's style with the following words: "Alfonso Reyes, the greatest prose writer in the Spanish language of any age, said to me: 'Groussac taught me how to write in Spanish.' "
Selected works by Alfonso Reyes


"Ifigenia Cruel"
"Yerbas del Tarahumara"
"Homero en Cuernavaca"


"Cuestiones Estéticas"
"El Suicida"
"Visión de Anáhuac"
"Vísperas de España"
"Cartones de Madrid"
"Simpatías y Diferencias"
"Homília por la Cultura"
"Capítulos de Literatura Española"
"Pasado Inmediato"
"Estudios Helénicos"
"La Filosofía Helenística"
"La X en la Frente"
"Memorias de Cocina y Bodega"
"Las Burlas Veras"


"Los Tres Tesoros"
"El Plano Oblicuo"
"Árbol de Pólvora"
"Quince Presencias"

The "Fondo de Cultura Económica" published his complete works in 26 volumes, titled "Obras Completas de Alfonso Reyes".

The "Premio Internacional Alfonso Reyes" (Alfonso Reyes International Prize) is a Mexican award given for contributions to the world of literature, named in honour of Alfonso Reyes, the prize is awarded by the National Council for Culture and the Arts (CNCA), the National Fine Arts Institute (INBA), the Sociedad Alfonsina Internacional, the Nuevo León state government, and the publishing houses Siglo XXI and Ediciones Castillo. It was created in 1972, with the first award made in 1973.


1973: Jorge Luis Borges
1974: Marcel Bataillon
1975: Alejo Carpentier
1976: André Malraux
1977: Jorge Guillén
1978: James W. Robb
1979: Carlos Fuentes
1980: Ernesto Mejía Sánchez
1981: Jacques Soustelle
1982: José Luis Martínez
1983: Paulette Patout
1984: Rubén Bonifaz Nuño
1985: Octavio Paz
1986: Alí Chumacero
1987: Gutierre Tibón
1988: Ramón Xirau
1989: Laurette Séjourné
1990: Adolfo Bioy Casares
1991: Andrés Henestrosa
1992: Arnaldo Orfila Reynal
1993: Joaquín Díez-Canedo
1994: Germán Arciniegas
1995: Juan José Arreola
2000: Arturo Uslar Pietri
2001: Miguel León-Portilla
2002: Rafael Gutiérrez Girardot
2003: Harold Bloom
2005: José Emilio Pacheco

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June 6, 2012 Edited by VacuumBot Removed period from death date
April 12, 2010 Edited by Open Library Bot Added photos to author pages.
December 30, 2008 Edited by hipstercool Edited without comment.
April 1, 2008 Created by an anonymous user initial import