1990 Nobel Prize in Literature
Octavio Paz Lozano
"for impassioned writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity."
  • 11 October 1990 (1990-10-11) (announcement)
  • 10 December 1990
LocationStockholm, Sweden
Presented bySwedish Academy
First awarded1901
WebsiteOfficial website
← 1989 · Nobel Prize in Literature · 1991 →

The 1990 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to the Mexican poet and essayist Octavio Paz (1914–1998) "for impassioned writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity."[1] He is the only recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature from Mexico.[2][3]


Main article: Octavio Paz

One of the best known works by Octavio Paz is El laberinto de la soledad ("The Labyrinth of Solitude", 1950), a collection of essays in which he analyzes Mexican history and culture. Paz has solely released poetry volumes up to this time including Piedra de Sol ("Sunstone", 1957). He started a number of literary publications, such as Vuelta and El hijo pródigo. Marxism, surrealism, existentialism, Buddhism, and Hinduism were just a few of the philosophies that had an impact on him. Love and sexuality were major topics in his later works. His works include the poetry collections Águila o sol? ("Eagle or Sun?", 1951), La Estación Violenta ("The Violent Season", 1956) and El Arco y la Lira ("The Bow and The Lyre", 1956).[4][5]


At the prize announcement in October 1990, Sture Allén permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, revealed that there were 150 candidates for the prize in 1990, 25 of them women.[6] Octavio Paz had been a candidate for the prize throughout the 1980s.[6] Literary circles believed that among the nominees for that year were the perennial candidates such as Carlos Fuentes, another Mexican writer; Nadine Gordimer, a South African writer (awarded the following year); V. S. Naipaul, a Trinidad-born novelist who lives in Britain (awarded in 2001); Milan Kundera, a Czech novelist exiled in France; Max Frisch, a Swiss playwright; and Mario Vargas Llosa, a Peruvian writer (awarded in 2010).[2]


Octavio Paz had been expected to receive the award for years.[7] Paz himself said: "I was surprised because I didn't expect the prize. One or two years ago I knew I was a candidate, but this time, no. I didn't have the slightest idea, so I was doubly surprised."[6]


  1. ^ The Nobel Prize in Literature 1990 nobelprize.org
  2. ^ a b Octavio Paz britannica.com
  3. ^ "Octavio Paz, Mexican Poet, Wins Nobel Prize". New York Times. 12 October 1990.
  4. ^ Octavio Paz – Facts nobelprize.org
  5. ^ Octavio Paz – Poetry Foundation poetryfoundation.org
  6. ^ a b c "Octavio Paz wins Nobel literature prize". UPI. 11 October 1990. Retrieved 13 July 2022.
  7. ^ Helmer Lång Hundra nobelpris i litteratur 1901-2001, Symposion 2001, p.342