Mexico’s rich history and varied culture has served as an inspiration to many writers over the years. Among the best-known of the 20th century story tellers who were moved to produce novels based on their experiences in the country are Graham Greene, D.H. Lawrence, and Malcolm Lowry.
Greene traveled in southern Mexico during the anti-clerical persecutions of the 1930s, and produced two books, the commentary Lawless Roads and the novel The Power and The Glory. Lawrence visited in the 1920s, and wrote The Plumed Serpent, while Lowry in the 1940s wrote Under The Volcano, which was made into a film in 1984.
The three can be associated with specific places in Mexico: Greene with sweltering Tabasco; Lowry with Cuernavaca, the land of eternal spring; and Lawrence with Lake Chapala—to this day a popular spot for foreign residents living in Mexico.
The Mexican historian Enrique Krauze considers, in a 2015 article on British writers that lived in or visited Mexico, that the works of the male authors lean toward what is dark in the country, while the female writers —Rosa King, Sybille Bedford, Rebecca West— tended rather to reflect the day.
More recently, writers like Tony Cohan, author of the memoir On Mexican Time (and its sequel, Mexican Days) show how the country continues to deliver inspiration for writers who come to visit or live here. A good number of the more contemporary books are about people escaping to a quiet life south of the border —oblivious perhaps to Mexico’s own version of the rat race— and some are fiction.
Another modern-day writer —DBC Pierre of British and Australian parentage— grew up in Mexico in the 1970s. While Mexico appears briefly in the latter part of his prize-winning first novel Vernon God Little, it’s in a more recent work, Release the Bats, that he shares several of his personal experiences in the country.
Modern writers are still finding inspiration in Mexico for turning out prose (not to mention blogs) and writing courses are also popular here. One of the well-attended writing retreats is Under The Volcano, a non-profit program hosted annually in the highland town of Tepoztlán, near Cuernavaca.
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