Since God invented the word as the best and most precious communication system, the creators of stories and writers are the only ones who manage to conquer eternity.
This is a special year because we celebrate the 400 year anniversary of the deaths of two great writers. One told his stories in English and there was no one in the world who did not know about him. His name was William Shakespeare. The other wrote in Spanish — the language of the conquistadors, which allowed for the linguistic uniformity of the conquered. His name was Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.
Now, for the sixth time, a Mexican will once again demonstrate that thought and sensitivity are the heritage of the people. Because Fernando del Paso and his “News from the Empire,” will go to the University of Alcalá de Henares’ theatre in Spain, to be awarded the Cervantes Prize for the best work in Spanish literature.
Before him, the award has been given to Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, Sergio Pitol, José Emilio Pacheco and Elena Poniatowska. All of them had something in common. But now, Del Paso gives us a statement about Mexico that will endure for some time.
Del Paso — a man who in recent times hasn’t been a pessimist but a realist about the situation of the country — has said that now, “Mexico is a country in decline” in which “we have had many inept and corrupt leaders.”
In that sense, it would be a good exercise to not only honor and recognize our poets and writers, but to also recover the statements they have made about us, the Mexican people, in the speeches given when they have received the Cervantes Prize.
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra had to learn to deceive using the truth in order to survive. And so, to tell the truth he had to create a character that was crazy, because only someone like that could speak freely without the risk of being burned at the stake.
Now Del Paso has to give some news of the empire that represents us, to that other languishing empire, that is, Spain. And the news is that because of everything we don’t have and everything we need, we are experiencing what that poem written by León Felipe, a Spanish writer exiled in Mexico because of the civil war in his country, describes.
The poem, titled “The defeated,” reminds us that, “The figure of Don Quixote can be seen again in the La Mancha plains […] And how many times have I cried to you: Move over and let me sit next to you in the saddle and take me to your place […] Let me sit in your saddle, because I’m also full of bitterness and I cannot fight!”