Jun 182014
 

José López Portillo y Rojas (1850-1923) was born in Guadalajara. He graduated as a lawyer in Guadalajara in 1871, before spending three years traveling in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. On his return, he published his first book: Egypt and Palestine. Notes from a trip (1874).

portillo-y-rojas-jose-lopezHe began an illustrious political career as deputy for Jalisco to the national Congress from 1875-1877. Shortly after that first experience of national politics, he returned to Guadalajara and became a journalist, teacher of law, and member of that city’s literary circle.

The group included other young Jalisco writers such as Antonio Zaragoza and Manuel Álvarez del Castillo, one of whose sons, Jesús, would later start the El Informador newspaper in Guadalajara, which remains one of the city’s most important dailies.

In 1880, López Portillo y Rojas returned to Mexico City as a deputy. In 1882, he became a state senator. In 1886, he joined with Manuel Álvarez del Castillo and Ester Tapia de Castellanos to start a new publication in Guadalajara. La República Literaria, a magazine of science, art and literature quickly became nationally famous, but only lasted until 1890.

In 1891, López Portillo published the first transcription, albeit partial, of Father Antonio Tello’s invaluable 17th century account relating to Lake Chapala. In 1892, he published his only book of verse Transitory harmonies. By 1902, López Portillo was living in Mexico City and had joined the Partido Científico (Scientific Party). After the fall of Díaz, he held various federal government posts before becoming Governor of the State of Jalisco (1912-1914). For a brief period in 1914, he was appointed as Foreign Relations Secretary in the government of Victoriano Huerta, during the time when the U.S. invaded the port of Veracruz.

He left politics shortly afterwards and dedicated himself to teaching and writing. He left a vast body of work, ranging from travel accounts, poems, and literary criticism to historical and legal essays, short stories and novels. His best known collection of short stories is Stories, tales and short stories (1918). His best known novel, The parcel (1898), relates the fight between two hacienda owners for a worthless parcel of land.

At the time of his death in Mexico City on 22 of May, 1923, he was director of the Academia Mexicana de la Lengua (Mexican Academy of Language). One of López Portillo’s grandsons, José López Portillo y Pacheco (1920-2004), served as President of Mexico between 1976 and 1982. In Guadalajara, the Casa-Museo López Portillo, a museum and exhibition space honoring the family, can be visited at Calle Liceo #177.

A short story about Lake Chapala, entitled “José la garza morena” (“José the Great Blue Heron”) was published in Cosmos (a monthly magazine published in Mexico City) , in June 1912, pp. 401-405. It is a tale about someone finding a heron that has been shot and wounded, and trying in vain to cure it.

The story starts by remembering the times before Lake Chapala’s shores has been altered by civilization:

When I visited the lakeside hamlet of Chapala for the first time, now many years ago, I found everything in an almost primitive state, better than now from some points of view, but worse from others.

The author compares the Chapala of earlier times with the situation during the Porfiriato (when he was active in politics as a supporter of President Díaz):

Not a sign back then of the picturesque villas that today adorn and decorate these shores from the town to the Manglar, which is the house where Don Porfirio Díaz used to stay during the time, happy for him, of his all-embracing command; but everywhere was thick scrub, cheerful orchards with severe rocky places, which were in harmony with that rustic and unspoiled landscape.

The scene is set; the action begins with an evening trip in a rowboat on the lake. The beauty of the lake, as depicted by the author, creates an impression of decadence and morbidity, because there are no signs of life out on the water:

But that scene of glorification seemed dead and desolate, without any bird to make it cheerful; not a stork, nor a crane, nor a duck stained the burnished horizon with its graceful silhouette.

Further on, the author continues:

The lake appeared magnificent and solitary under that divine show, as if it were another asphalt lake, a new Dead Sea. But it was not always thus; and the recollections of better times engraved in my memory transformed this most unhappy spectacle, because before the rising tide of civilization invaded these places with platoons of armed hunters with shining rifles, flocks of ducks would rise suddenly into the air from the marshes as the boat approached.

The second part of the short story is about someone finding a heron that has been shot and wounded, and trying in vain to cure it.

Credit and reference:

My sincere thanks to Dr. Wolfgang Vogt of the University of Guadalajara for bringing this short story (and his analysis of it) to my attention. The extracts above are translations by Tony Burton.

Vogt, Wolfgang (1989) “El lago de Chapala en la literatura” in Estudios sociales: revista cuatrimestral del Instituto de Estudios Sociales. Universidad de Guadalajara: Year 2, Number 5: 1989, 37-47. Republished in 1994 as pp 163-176 of Vogt (1994) La cultura jalisciense desde la colonia hasta la Revolución (Guadalajara: H. Ayuntamiento).

Jun 082014
 

Ramón Martínez Ocaranza was born in Jiquilpan, Michoacán, 15 April, 1915, and died in Morelia 21 September 1982.

He was a poet, essayist, social fighter and teacher, who used to joke that only a wall had stopped him from becoming President of Mexico–this was because Lázaro Cárdenas (President of Mexico 1934-1940) had been born in the house next door!

ocaranza-ramonMartínez christened his native city of Jiquilpan as the “city of jacarandas”, a name that is still widely used today on account of the city’s many blue-flowering jacaranda trees.

He published numerous volumes of poetry, including:

Al pan, pan y al vino, vino, 1943; Ávido Amor, 1944; Preludio de la muerte enemiga, 1946; Muros de soledad, first part 1952, second part 1992; De la vida encantada, 1952; Río de llanto, 1955; Alegoría de México, 1959; Otoño encarcelado, 1968; Elegía de los triángulos, 1974; Elegías en la Muerte de Pablo Neruda, 1977; Patología del Ser, 1981.  Works published after his death include the poetry volumes La Edad del tiempo, 1985; and Vocación de Job, 1992, which formed part of El libro de los días (1997).

He also wrote an autobiography, finally published twenty years after his death in 2002. He studied (and later taught) at Colegio de San Nicolás de Hidalgo (Morelia) and studied at UNAM. His poems contain many pre-Columbian element and he researched and wrote about Tarascan literature.

Sadly, a campaign in 2010-2011 to turn his former house (Río Mayo #367, colonia Ventura Puente, Morelia)  into a small museum and exhibition space has apparently failed, owing to lack of funds.

 Posted by at 6:56 am  Tagged with:
Jan 072014
 

Tapalpa (Editorial Agata/Fotoglobo, 2001)

tapalpa-foto-globoShort articles on the locations set the scene for dozens of vintage sepia photographs of this historic village which has become a prime tourist destination (and is one of the “Magic Towns”) in Jalisco, Mexico. The book includes photos of Tapalpa, La Constancia, las Piedrotas, Los Frailes, Ferrería de Tula, Ojo Zarco, Arroyos, Buenavista, El Tacamo and Cascada el Saltito and Cascada de las Palomas.

Softcover, 64 pages. Dimensions (in inches): 10.6 x 7.8 x 0.2; ISBN: 970-657-102-7 Price: US $15.00  (plus shipping, contact us for details)

Related books:

 

 

 

 Posted by at 5:31 pm
Jan 072014
 

La Fiesta de San Andrés – Historia Visual (Editorial Agata/SCJ/Conaculta, 2003). Visual history, with Spanish-language text, of the Huichol Fiesta de San Andrés, related and photographed by anthropologist Kal Muller.

Famous photographer Kal (Kalman) Muller, who grew up in this Huichol Indian village in the sierras of Western Mexico, documents the relatively new tradition of celebrating the  fiesta of San Andrés. A highly unusual book, which could only have been produced by a great anthropologist-photographer.

fiesta-san-andresLa Fiesta de San Andrés nos muestra un rostro diferente del pueblo Wixarika (Huichol). La nación Wixarika famosa en todo el mundo por sus peculiares y arraigadas tradiciones, ritos, fiestas y cosmovisión, lo que ellos mismos llaman El Costumbre, se nos muestra inovadora, dinámica y adaptable. El antropólogo Kalman Muller, quien se crió en esta misma comunidad de San Andrós, y quien ha tenido contacto permanente con la misma durante toda su vida es el encargado de traernos estos vivencias. Mismas que nacieron por iniciativa de la propia comunidad, bajo la invitación de Rosalío Rivera Sánchez “Chalío”, para el legado histórico de las futuras generaciones Wixarikas y del mundo entero.

Language: Spanish. Softcover, 78 pages. Dimensions (in inches): 10.7 x 8.0 x 0.25 ISBN: 970-657-122-1 Price: US$20.00 plus shipping (contact us for details)

Want to learn more about the Huichol Indians?

 

 Posted by at 4:47 pm
Jan 042014
 

Tapalpa – Pueblo mágico (“Tapalpa – Magic Town”), was published by Editorial Agata/Fotoglobo in 2001.

tapalpaThis photo book with captions in Spanish has beautiful full-color photos of this magical mountain town. (Fotografias del pueblo mágico de Tapalpa con textos cortos).

Softcover, 143 pages. Dimensions (in inches): 11.0 x 8.5 x 0.4.

ISBN: 970-657-088-8 Price: US$35.00 (plus shipping, contact us for details)

Related books:

Tapalpa  (Editorial Agata, Fotoglobo, 2001) -64 pp; sepia photos

 

 Posted by at 6:12 pm
Jan 042014
 

The Line – La Linea, by Beldon Butterfield (Ediciones de la Noche, 2007).

butterfieldSoftcover, 444 pages. Dimensions (in inches): 8.25 x 5.5 x 1.0. ISBN: 978-1-60461-176-2 Price: US$20.00 (plus shipping, contact us for details)

This novel is set in the nether world of the Mexican drug trade, where men and women on both sides of the border wage an ill-fated “war on drugs” against a formidable enemy in command of an army of ruthless killers with endless resources.

Amid this amoral world of violence, a three way romance is forged between the striking and athletic DEA agent Fernanda Deering, the dashing but conniving Jaime Nuñez, a sub comandante in the PGR – Mexico’s elite law enforcement agency – and George Redfield, a bon vivant bi-cultured Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.

Born and raised in Argentina, Beldon Butterfield is a U.S.-educated author who came to Mexico with Time Inc. and now divides his time between Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende.

 

 Posted by at 6:08 pm
Jan 042014
 

Tlajomulco (Editorial Agata, Fotoglobo, 2004).

tlajomulcoLanguage: Spanish. Softcover, 96 pages. Dimensions (in inches): 8.7 x 8.7 x 0.2 ISBN: 970-657-144-2 Price: US$20.00 (plus shipping, contact us for details)

A full-color book of great color photos and short descriptions of all the major sites and scenes in the municipality of Tlajomulco. Tlajomulco is an historic town located between the city of Guadalajara.and Lake Chapala in Jalisco, Mexico.

The book includes places such as Santa Cruz de las Flores, San Agustín, Cajititlán, San Lucas, San Juan Evangelista and Cerro Viejo.

 

 Posted by at 5:42 pm
Jan 042014
 

Laguna de Sayula; humedad del sur de Jalisco, México (Laguna de Sayula; wetland in southern Jalisco, Mexico”) Unión Editorialista. 2005

sayulaLanguage: Spanish. Softcover, 174 pages. Dimensions (in inches): 10.8 x 8.5 x 0.6. ISBN: 970-657-158-2 Price: US$40.00 (plus shipping, contact us for details)

This beautiful book about the Laguna of Sayula (located alongside the main toll highway linking Guadalajara and Colima) in Jalisco begins with a short historical introduction to the region. Most of the volume is dedicated to a comprehensive account of all aspects of the Laguna’s natural history: geology, flora and fauna, particularly the rich bird life that characterizes this region. The book is richly illustrated throughout with excellent color photos.

A very hard-to-find item. Only two copies in stock.

 Posted by at 5:34 pm
Jan 042014
 

Exploring Yucatan: A Traveler’s Anthology, selected and edited by Richard D. Perry (Espadaña Press, 2001).

perry-yucatanSoftcover, 318 pages. Dimensions (in inches): 9 x 6 x 0.9. ISBN: 0-9620811-4-0 Price: US$20.00 (plus shipping, contact us for details)

For centuries, explorers, adventurers, artists, naturalists and archeologists have recorded their experiences of work and travel in Yucatan. Their vivid memoirs give us historic insights into the attitudes of the past, document how conditions have changed over time, and help to illuminate the present in this exotic tropical region of Mayan Mexico.

Now, a broad and varied selection of these classic writings have been excerpted and collected in one volume to entertain and enlighten today’s traveler to Yucatan.

The selections include all the major Mayan sites and regions of the Yucatan peninsula, from Campeche on the Gulf coast to Tulum on the Caribbean coast. The narratives are accompanied by numerous historical and new illustrations, maps, a glossary and full index. Essential reading for anyone traveling the Ruta Maya.

 Posted by at 5:29 pm
Jan 042014
 

Past Times in Chapala by J. Jesús González G. (1994)

aquellos-tiempos-chapalaThis 56 page book is an evocative, bilingual (Spanish-English) description of the delights of the popular resort community of Chapala, on the shores of Mexico’s largest natural lake, written by a prominent politician. The book includes 75 sepia-tone photos dating from the early decades of this century. The translation is by Tony Burton.

Hard to find item. Price US$15.00 (plus shipping, contact us for details)

 Posted by at 5:22 pm