Octavio Paz is a prominent Mexican poet and essayist, best known in the United States for "The Labyrinth of Solitude," a highly influential examination of Mexican character and culture. The present volume gathers 16 assorted pieces--essays, addresses, and an interview--dating from 1967. As always, Paz impresses the reader with the range of his knowledge; he moves easily among European, American (both North and Latin) and Asian cultural traditions and engages questions about history and politics. Paz's breadth is not always a virtue, however. His work, especially for the specialized scholar on whose turf he is romping, is sometimes superficial and predictable.
"Convergences" is not as good a title for this collection as one Paz used for an earlier volume, "Conjunctions and Disjunctions." Again, Paz deals simultaneously with the barriers of language and culture that separate people and with the forces that create the common human predicament.
As Paz treats such disparate subjects as linguistic theory and mass media, he reveals his characteristic fondness of paradox and provocative generalization. In considering American culture, Paz drops the line that "The United States is a country poor in spices, rich in human beauty."