Eliot Weinberger was born on February 6, 1949. He is a writer, editor and translator. His work has been published in 30 languages. He first gained recognition from his translations of Nobel Prize winner and poet Octavio Paz. These translations include Collected Poems 1957-1987 and In Light of India. He has also translated other writers such as Vicente Huidobro's Altazor. He received the National Board Critic's Circle Award for his edition of Borge's Selected Non-Fictions. Today Eliot Weinberger is mostly known for his essays and political articles focusing on U.S. politics and foreign policy. His literary writings include An Elemental Thing, which was selected by The Village Voice as one of the "20 Best Books of the Year for 2009. He is also the co-author of a study of Chinese poetry translations, 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei. In 2000 he was the only American literary writer to be awarded the order of the Aztec Eagle by the government of Mexico.
Octavio Paz's poetic roots are in romanticism and such neoromantics as D. H. Lawrence, but he has been profoundly influenced by Mexican Indian mythology and oriental religious philosophy, particularly Tantric Buddhism. The latter influence came about while he was serving as Mexico's ambassador to India (1962-68), when he resigned to protest the government's treatment of students demonstrating prior to the Olympic Games in Mexico City. He conceives of poetry as a way of transcending barriers of world, time, and individual self. Through poetry he seeks to achieve a state of innocence and an euphoria of the senses bordering on the mystical, and he expresses anguish when language fails him. Much of Paz's poetry is erotic, with women being the vehicle across the abyss to "the other side of the river," where union with universal consciousness is possible. This element in his poetic vision has of late left him open to acerbic feminist readings. Paz constantly experiments with form in an effort to break down the traditional forms of poetry; several of his long major works are circular and have coexisting variant readings, and Renga is a collaborative poem by poets in four languages. Poetry for Paz is necessarily in conflict with society because of its potential for transmuting and reforming it, and the poetic imagination is a valuable tool for understanding society. His essays on the Mexican character, history, and traditions, such as The Labyrinth of Solitude (1950) and The Other Mexico (1969), are fundamental to understanding Mexican society. He has also written extensively on aesthetics, poetics, and the nature of language and poetry.