Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Recollections of Maximilian by Marie de la Fere

A free book-- download it here. It's been in rough form on-line for sometime but I've updated the introduction and formatted it as an ebook. (Tip: If you're using an iPad, click on "open in iBooks.")

From the new introduction:

It was the distinguished historian of Mexico, Robert Ryal Miller, who told me about this circa 1910 English language handwritten manuscript long-languishing in the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. Very generously, as was his way, he wrote to me, knowing that I was doing archival research for my novel, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, and recommended that I look it up on my next visit to the Bancroft.

There is always something magical about touching old paper, running one's finger along the faded ink, but it turned out that I had to read "My Recollections of Maximilian" on microfiche-- reeling a tape through a cranky old machine in a dark room. The handwriting appeared to be that of an older person, elegant but cramped, smallish, and set down in a first draft, as if jotted one afternoon on whatever paper might have been handy, and only after being repeatedly pressed by some younger friend. In places, here a word, there a sentence fragment, were impossible to make out. But reading it was well worth the trouble, for, among so many other things, it gave me insight into the Mexican monarchists' passionate feelings for their unlikely emperor,
Maximilian von Habsburg.

Younger brother of Austria's Kaiser Franz Josef, Maximilian was shanghaied by pie-in-the-sky promises into serving as the puppet emperor of Louis Napoleon's so-called Mexican Expedition. For Mexicans, this Austrian with the beautiful uniforms and splendid red beard who ended his young life in 1867 before a firing squad in Querétaro, shouting, "Viva México!" is a figure of endless fascination, ridicule, scholarly reconsidersations, gossip, paintings, operas, musicals, movies, and, of course, novels. Adding to the beguilement, his wife, the arrogantly beautiful Carlota—granddaughter of France's King Louis Philippe (the one who abdicated in 1848), daughter of King Leopold of Belgium, sister of Leopold II (of Congo fame), and first cousin to Queen Victoria— went raving mad in the Vatican and spent the rest of her long life—she died in 1927— sequestered in a castle in Belgium. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Book by Konrad Ratz and Amparo Gómez Tepexicuapan

Leading historians of Mexico's Second Empire or French Intervention, Konrad Ratz and Amparo Gómez Tepexicuapan, have just published an invaluable resource for anyone studying the period-- or writing a novel: the Spanish translation of their work originally published in German, Los viajes de Maximiliano en México (1864-1867) with a fine introduction by Salvador Rueda Smithers, director of Mexico's National Museum of History (Chaputlepec Castle).

Here's hoping it sees publication in English. As I wrote about the original German edition, Ein Kaiser unterwegs:

Maximilian accepted the throne of Mexico without ever having seen it-- he was crowned Emperor in 1864 in his residence in Trieste (then part of Austria, now Italy). Once he arrived in Mexico, however, he made strenuous efforts to tour the country and get to know its people, its moneymen and other key players, its natural wonders and, of course, the silver mines. As anyone who tries to write about Mexico's Second Empire soon discovers, Maximilian's (and his consort Carlota's) incessant travels make any chronology of the period headscratchingly complex. 
Enter the indispensable Ein Kaiser unterwegs: Die Reisen Maximilians von Mexiko 1864-1867 nach Presseberichten und Privatbriefen* by Konrad Ratz and Amparo Gómez Tepexicuapan (Vienna: Böhlau, 2007), which details Maximilian's multitude of journeys in Mexico during the Second Empire. These include his inaugural tours of 1864 and then 1865 to the silver mines; 1865 and 1866 to Cuernavaca; October 1866 through January 1867 to Orizaba and back to the capital; and the final journey to Querétaro in 1867. 
A hardcover edition with many rare photographs, documents, and new maps, a bibliography, and an index of biographical names, this is an essential addition to any collection concerning the period.  

Here's my translation of the Spanish edition's back cover:

Maximilian's travels in Mexican territory have been the object of speculation but not any in-depth research. The authors of this book aim to fill this gaps and present historical evidence of the liberal "coup d'etat" Maximilian did not achieve in nearly three months of his first tour as emperor. In detailed analysis, they also examine the activities of his second, third, and fourth tours. 
Maximilian traveled the territory of his Empire intending to govern in situ. For the first time, this work shows his activities, ideas, decrees, by a day-by-day description of the receptions, and his meetings with political figures, as well as his programs of visits to schools and other public institutions.

>>Get your copy here:
Fondo de Cultura Económica
Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (CONACULTA)
ISBN 978 607 516 052 8

Read my comments given for this book's presentation.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Celtic Cross, Gift from the Pope to Maximilian

With thanks to my Austrian correspondent Herbert Brindl, and many apologies for my terrible delay, a link to page of (alas, old) news of the auction of the cross given by the Pope to Maximilian. It's quite something, no? Anyone aiming to a make a movie starring the ex-Archduke had better feature this very luxurious object. Apparently, according to the auction house, Maximilian wore it on all state occasions.

PS The Pope's wedding gift to Maximilian and Carlota of an inlaid table is on display at Miramar Castle.

I'll be back posting something about the two (yes, count 'em) editions of Maximilian and Carlota's book of protocol... anon....

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Amor por México, Maximiliano y Carlota, an Alebrije by Raúl Santos Ramírez

This is a post I meant to make back in (gulp) October of 2010. Thanks to sharp-eyed Rubén Pacheco, some fun snaps from the monumental alebrijes show in Mexico City, of the work titled "Amor por México, Maximiliano y Carlota." What's an alebrije? I think of them a combination of Chinese dragon and a display piñata or maybe a sculpture and an intricately hand-made candy-wrapper. This is a playful interpretation of Maximilian and Carlota's love for Mexico by Raúl Santos Ramírez. Here is a translation of the artist's own description of the work:

An homage to the foreigners who love our country and have taken root in our culture. 
Emperor Maximilian von Habsburg is personified by a hawk, which represents his Austrian origin and with a glimpse of a crown to invoke his renouncing the crown in order to govern our country. His clothing merges with a charro's suit, a tradition in which he was a pioneer, and the long roots are the deep love he felt for Mexico. 
Empress Carlota Amalia of Belgium, is embodied as a fairy, which symbolizes the madness she suffered until her death and the hope she had of being together with Maximilian. 
Three hearts, the largest symbolizing Mexico and the way in which both sank roots in a brief time in our country, the hearts in the hands  represent the love story between them  and the heart formed by the wings the hope for this nation's prosperity.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Justo Armas

My fellow Mexico aficionado, author Michael Hogan, sent me this curious link he came upon about Justo Armas. Fun reading for anyone intrigued by the many Maximilian legends of yore.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

La Sociedad and La Biblioteca Miguel Lerdo de Tejada

La Sociedad was the newspaper of Mexico's Second Empire. For my research for my novel, I had the privilege-- as can you, should you visit Mexico City-- of reading the originals in the Biblioteca Miguel Lerdo de Tejada. (I had to use gloves and wear a mask...)

This truly extraordinary library is run by Mexico's Ministry of Finance (SHCP) and it is open to the public. Watch this brief overview and introduction by director Juan Manuel Herrera:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

El Cerro de las Campanas

The Cerro de las Campanas (Hill of the Bells) was where Maximilian was executed in June of 1867-- 45 years ago. Pictured left, as I snapped it in the local museum, is the coffin used to transport his body from there to the embalmer's.

>>Mexican writer Araceli Ardón, who lives in Querétaro, posted the essay, "Cerro de las Campanas," on her blog.

>>Click here for a few photos of the Cerro de las Campanas and the chapel to Maximilian's memory.

>>A translation from the Hungarian about the fiasco of the embalming is here.

>>Lots more about Maximilian on the dedicated webpage here.

>>"From Mexico to Miramar or, Across the Lake of Oblivion," my award-winning essay about a visit to Maximilian's (yes) Italian castle, originally published in the Massachusetts Review, is available here.

I aim to post more regularly on the coming weeks. Several interesting items are awaiting...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

José Luis Blasio Papers in Mexico City

The author of the dishy-- and classic-- memoir, Maximiliano Intimo, José Luis Blasio served in Mexico as a secretary to Maximilian von Habsburg, and in Europe 1866, to the Empress Carlota, witnessing many of the most dramatic events of the Second Empire / French Intervention. I was delighted to learn that his invaluable archive now has a home at the Centro de Estudios de Historia de México Carso in Mexico City.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New in Kindle: El último príncipe del Imperio Mexicano and "From Mexico to Miramar or, Across the Lake of Oblivion"

The Spanish edition of my novel, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire (Unbridled Books, 2009), as El último príncipe del Imperio Mexicano, beautifully translated by Mexican poet and novelist Agustín Cadena, is now available on Kindle.

>>Watch the trailer:

Also now available on Kindle from Dancing Chiva is my long essay about a visit to Maximilian's castle in Italy, "From Mexico to Miramar or, Across the Lake of Oblivion" by C.M. Mayo, originally published in the Massachusetts Review.

Light posting on this blog for a spell because I've been busy with the publication of my trtanslation of Francisco I. Madero's Spiritist Manual and a new podcasting project that launched this month. But I will be posting here again soon; I still have a lot of research to share.

P.S. If I owe you an e-mail, my apologies, but please know I do read my e-mail and, though behind, I am doing my best to catch up.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...