The Paris Review interviews Carlos Fuentes

by Gilbert Keith

… and suddenly I see a lot of things.

Seriously, this interview is awesome. I don’t have too much time to expound on this so let me highlight some of the gems I came across in the interview:

Carlos Fuentes, The Art of Fiction No. 68

Interviewed by Alfred Mac Adam, Charles E. Ruas

FUENTES: Everyone who writes a novel knows he is involved in the Proustian problem of in some way knowing what he is going to write and at the same time being amazed at what is actually coming out. Proust only wrote when he had lived what he was going to write, and yet he had to write as though he knew nothing about it—which is extraordinary. In a way we are all involved in the same adventure: to know what you are going to say, to have control over your material, and at the same time to have that margin of freedom which is discovery, amazement, and a precondition of the freedom of the reader.

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INTERVIEWER: Knowing so many languages, which language do you dream in?

FUENTES: I dream in Spanish; I also make love in Spanish— this has created tremendous confusion at times, but I can only do it in Spanish.
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FUENTES: One of the basic cultural factors of Latin America is that it is an eccentric branch of the culture of the West. It is Western and it is not Western. So we feel that we have to know the culture of the West even better than a Frenchman or an Englishman, and at the same time we have to know our own culture. This sometimes means going back to the Indian cultures, whereas the Europeans feel they don’t have to know our cultures at all. We have to know Quetzalcoatl and Descartes.

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FUENTES: I am grateful for my sense of detachment because I can say things about my country other people don’t say. I offer Mexicans a mirror in which they can see how they look, how they talk, how they act, in a country which is a masked country. 

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FUENTES: People who are glued to the television are really in the deepest recess of their soul, hoping to see themselves, because this will be the apotheosis of their identity. Walter Benjamin says a very good thing about the real revolution of the nineteenth century being the invention of photography. All throughout history, people had been faceless, and suddenly people had a face. The first photographs were kept in jewel boxes lined with velvet because they were precious. They were your identity. Now suddenly you have this possibility of being seen by thirty, forty, fifty million people. You have an identity. You exist. You are someone. No matter how fleetingly, no matter how briefly. Talk about the end of feudalism. There it is. The end of feudalism happens in front of your TV.

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