The New York Times
August 25, 1998

          Elena Garro, a Mexican Literary Figure, Dies at 78

          By ANTHONY DePALMA

                MEXICO CITY -- The Mexican writer Elena Garro, whose novels,
                plays and stories exploring the clash between illusion and reality in
          Latin America made her one of Mexico's most important literary figures
          behind her former husband, Octavio Paz, died on Saturday at
          Cuernavaca Hospital, south of Mexico City.

          She was 78 and had emphysema, said her daughter, Helena Paz Garro.

          While male voices predominate in Latin American literature, Ms. Garro,
          through acerbic intelligence and lyric intensity, achieved a level of
          recognition and importance usually barred to women. The president of the
          National Council for Culture and the Arts in Mexico, Rafael Tovar y de
          Teresa, labeled Ms. Garro one of the three most important female writers
          that Mexico had produced, alongside the 17th-century nun and poet Sor
          Juana de la Cruz and Rosario Castellanos, Ms. Garro's contemporary.

          The Mexican literary world "is in mourning again," said Tovar y de

          Paz, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1990, died on April 19.

          In the Mexico City daily Reforma, the writer Carlos Fuentes called Ms.
          Garro's first book, "Recollections of Things to Come," "one of the most
          important Mexican novels of the 20th century." It is one of only a handful
          of her more than 40 works that was translated into English.

          Ms. Garro was born in the pretty colonial town of Puebla, 75 miles from
          Mexico City.

          Her marriage to Paz in 1937 brought her into a circle of intellectuals
          where her own radical ideas flourished and eventually clashed with those
          of her contemporaries.

          Soon after marrying, she and Paz moved from Mexico City to Spain to
          write about the Spanish Civil War. They lived in Paris after World War II
          and became part of the literary group that included the Argentine poet
          Jorge Luis Borges and the Surrealist André Breton. Later they lived in
          Japan before returning to Mexico.

          Their marriage dissolved in the early 1960's and they never spoke to each
          other again.

          In the late 1960's, Mexico, like many other countries, was immersed in
          protest and rebellion. The Mexican student movement had been fired in
          part by the country's intellectual elite. But Ms. Garro turned her back on
          the movement, at one point calling it a "crazy adventure."

          Her remarks stirred open hostility and brought about an almost complete
          break with Mexico's literary community. She moved to New York, and
          later to Paris, remaining in exile for 23 years before returning to Mexico in
          November 1991.

          She found a changed country, which she found hard to accept, and
          became like a character in "Recollections of Things to Come" who tried to
          step out of time by stopping the clock at the end of every day.

          Still, Ms. Garro continued to write provocatively and successfully. This
          March, the English translations of two of her novellas, "First Love" and
          "Look for My Obituary," were published by Curbstone.

          In a review in The New York Times, Peter Bricklebank said the works
          possessed "understated eloquence," with characters who are "prisoners of
          their own solitude, shackled by social expectations."

          Besides her novels and stories, she wrote eight works for the theater,
          including "A Solid Home" (1957), "The Tree" (1963) and "Felipe
          Angeles" (1979). Upon her return to Mexico in 1991, she was honored
          for her life's work at the National Theater Program in Aguascalientes.

          Ms. Garro spent her last years with her daughter and more than a dozen
          cats in a two-bedroom apartment in Cuernavaca.