Pillar of Salt

9780292705418: Hardback
Release Date: 1st April 2014

1 b&w photo

Dimensions: 140 x 216

Number of Pages: 216

Series Texas Pan American Literature in Translation

University of Texas Press

Pillar of Salt

An Autobiography, with 19 Erotic Sonnets

Written by
Salvador Novo
Translated by
Marguerite Feitlowitz
Introduced by
Carlos Monsiváis
Hardback / £28.99

Salvador Novo (1904–1974) was a provocative and prolific cultural presence in Mexico City through much of the twentieth century. With his friend and fellow poet Xavier Villaurrutia, he cofounded Ulises and Contemporáneos, landmark avant-garde journals of the late 1920s and 1930s. At once "outsider" and "insider," Novo held high posts at the Ministries of Culture and Public Education and wrote volumes about Mexican history, politics, literature, and culture. The author of numerous collections of poems, including XX poemas, Nuevo amor, Espejo, Dueño mío, and Poesía 1915–1955, Novo is also considered one of the finest, most original prose stylists of his generation.

Pillar of Salt is Novo's incomparable memoir of growing up during and after the Mexican Revolution; shuttling north to escape the Zapatistas, only to see his uncle murdered at home by the troops of Pancho Villa; and his initiations into literature and love with colorful, poignant, complicated men of usually mutually exclusive social classes. Pillar of Salt portrays the codes, intrigues, and dynamics of what, decades later, would be called "a gay ghetto." But in Novo's Mexico City, there was no name for this parallel universe, as full of fear as it was canny and vibrant. Novo's memoir plumbs the intricate subtleties of this world with startling frankness, sensitivity, and potential for hilarity. Also included in this volume are nineteen erotic sonnets, one of which was long thought to have been lost.

  • Introduction
  • The Sidelong World: Where Confession and Proclamation Are Compounded, by Carlos Monsiváis
  • Pillar of Salt by Salvador Novo
  • “This flower of fourteen petals”: Salvador Novo and the Sonnet, by Marguerite Feitlowitz
  • Sonnets
  • Notes
  • Index of Names

One of the group of talented poets and playwrights known as los Contemporáneos, Salvador Novo (1904-1974) received the prestigious Premio Nacional de Literatura in 1969.

Marguerite Feitlowitz is the author of the internationally acclaimed A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture. She has translated the works of, among others, Griselda Gambaro, Carlos Monsiváis, Liliane Atlan, and Angélica Gorodischer. She teaches literature at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont.
Carlos Monsiváis was Mexico’s most beloved and esteemed journalist, critic, essayist, activist, and chronicler of the “urban carnival,” as he called his nation’s capital. The recipient of over thirty prizes and awards, including the Guadalajara International Book Fair Prize, Mexico’s National Prize for Journalism, and multiple honorary degrees, Monsiváis was prolific. Among his many works is Salvador Novo: Lo marginal en el centro.

"And if "translators translate context," as Edith Grossman asserts, then what we encounter when we read Pillar of Salt is a supreme translation not only of language but also of culture, politics, sexuality, and boyhood.