Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dr. Konrad Ratz (December 20, 1931 - May 22, 2014)

I was very saddened to learn of the death of my friend, Dr. Konrad Ratz, translator, researcher, and writer whose contributions to our understanding of Maximilian von Habsburg and Mexico's Second Empire I admire more than I can say. Among his many works, all of them major contributions:

Tras las huellas de un desconocido: Nuevos datos y aspectos de Maximiliano de Habsburgo (Link goes to my note in English about this excellent and very illuminating book.)
Los viajes de Maximiliano de Maximiliano en México(co-authored with Amparo Gómez Tepexicuapan)(Link goes to my comments for the book's presentation in Chapultepec Castle, Mexico City.)
Correspondencia inédita entre Maximiliano y Carlota
El ocaso del imperio de Maximiliano visto por un diplomático prusiano
Maximilian und JuárezBand I Das Zweite Mexikanische Kaiserreich und die RepublikBand II Querétaro-Chronik
The musical:

Very few researchers can work in both Spanish and German, fewer still with the skills to research Mexico's most complex and transnational period of the 19th century. We are fortunate indeed that Dr. Ratz dedicated so much effort and so many of his years to these tasks.

From the note his son Wolfgang sent out (my translation from the Spanish):

He began his professional life in Bilbao as a translator for the automobile industry. After moving with his family to Vienna, he worked for many years as an economist and translator for the Austrian Chamber of Commerce. Following that, as Director of the Fund to Promote Research, he had the opportunity to support many innovative projects and young entrepreneurs. He also worked to help create similar institutions in various countries, among them, Mexico. In 1975 he received the Austrian Decoration for Arts and Science.
... As a historian, he dedicated his life to researching Maximilian von Habsburg, and especially so during his retirement when he considered Mexico his "adopted country" and spent many marvelous years there with his second wife, Herta, making many unforgettable friendships.
Throughout his life, music was a great passion. The musical "Maximiliano - el Sueño de una Corona" was debuted successfully in Querétaro and Mexico City.
Open to all cultures, his life created bridges among Austria, Spain, Switzerland, and Latin America.

COMMENTS always welcome.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Luis Reed Torres' Biographies of Two Mexican Monarchist Generals, Joaquín Miramón and Manuel Ramírez de Arellano

As mentioned in my previous post, there was a conference held recently on Maximilian at Mexico City's Centro de Estudios de la Historia de México which had a spectacular lineup of scholars. The final speaker in the series, not in the original announcement, was Mexican historian Louis Reed Torres, who gave a wide-ranging and very entertaining talk with many rare photographs and special emphasis on his two recent biographies, both important contributions to our understanding of Mexico's Second Empire and the French Intervention:

*Joaquín Miramón, El General Olvidado
Herido y prisionero, Juárez ordenó que lo mataran
(Vida y muerte del Hermano Mayor de Miguel, 
Según su Archivo Militar y sus Documentos Privados)

[My translation of the above:
Joaquín Miramón, The Forgotten General
Wounded and taken prisoner, his death was ordered by Juárez
(The Life and death of the older brother of Miguel, 
according to his military records and private documents)]


*El Artillero de Maximiliano
(La Azarosa Vida del General Manuel Ramírez de Arellano, 
Niño Héroe de Chapultepec, Ideólogo Nacionalista y 
Amigo Fraternal de Miguel Miramón, 
Según su Archivo Inédito y sus Escritos)

[My translation of the above:
Maximilian's Artilleryman
The adventurous life of General Manuel Ramírez de Arellano,
One of "Boy Heroes" of Chapultepec, Nationalist Ideologist and
Close Friend of Miguel Miramón, 
According to his Unpublished Archive and Writings]

General Ramírez de Arellano, head of the Mexican Imperial Artillery, was the of the few to have escaped death in Querétaro in 1867. After that, as Reed Torres puts it, "his life was a novel." Ten years later, on the point of returning to Mexico, he died of Roman fever in Remini, Italy.

To get copies of either or both books, contact rosaura.tapia (at) hotmail (dot) com

Here's hoping these can be made available in Kindle!

+ + + + + + + 

P.S. I will be speaking (in Spanish) with my translator, Agustin Cadena, about my novel based on the true story, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire (El último príncipe del Imperio Mexicano) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 as part of the conference on Maximilian in fiction at Mexico City City's National Palace. The entire conference, which runs several more weeks, is free and open to the public. Click here for the full line up and more information.

Biblioteca Francisco Xavier Clavigero in the Universidad Iberamericana in Mexico City

Two great conferences on Maximilian here in Mexico City-- one recently concluded at the Centro de Estudos de la Historia de México, and another is in progress in Mexico's National Palace, both free and open to the public and with a wide variety of accomplished scholars.

I wanted to note one of the talks from the former which took place on June 2, 2014: Teresa Matabuena's about the magnificent holdings related to the Second Empire in the archives of the Universidad Iberoamericana's Biblioteca Francisco X. Clavigero. She mentioned just a few of them-- from my notes:

1. The manuscript "Les Vaincus du 5 du mai" (The Defeated of May 5)
by a French soldier, decorated with his own very elaborate and beautiful little paintings of birds and flowers. (Quite extraordinary to see.)

2. Folletería (Pamphlettes)
Including "Reseña de las Fiestas de la Independencia" and "Calendario Histórico de Maximiliano."

3. Revistas (Magazines)
Among them: El Museo Universal, a Spanish magazine thast was published bimonthly, and included many articles and notes on Maximilian; and L'Illustration, Journal Universal, a French magazine.

4. Books
Over 400, including L'Empire de Maximilien by Paul Gaulot, Paris, 1890; a copy of the very rare Reglamento del ceremonial de la Corte (the first edition of 1865); Estudios de grabados por autores mexicanos, a specially bound edition of 186(?) owned by Maximilian.

5. Concha Lombardo Collection
Concha Lombardo was the wife of General Miramón, a key figure in the Second Empire and one of the two generals exceuted in 1867 with Maximilian. While the Miramón papers are in Palermo, Italy, this one contains many crucial items for anyone studying the period and its violent end.

6. A photographic album of some 200 personalities of the period
The original has been returned to its owner, but a complete copy is in the catalog.

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P.S. My talk about my novel, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, El ultimo príncipe del Imperio Mexicano, together with my translator, the noted writer and poet Agustín Cadena, will be on Tuesday 15 of July in the conference in the National Palace. More about that here.

Who was Francisco Xavier Clavigero? An 18th century Mexican Jesuit and historian of note. Among his many works is The History of [Lower] California, translated from the Italian by Sara E. Lake, Stanford University Press, 1937. (Why Italian? There's a story.) I relied on Clavigero quite heavily in the section of my book, Miraculous Air: Journey of as Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico, about the tragedy of the Jesuit missions. So just hearing his name, it seems like a little wave from an old amigo.

Monday, June 23, 2014

In Mexico City: A Series of Conferences in the National Palace (Free) : "Maximiliano en México, una historia novelada"

This is all in Spanish, but I know many of you, dear readers, do speak it. So here's the big news: my novel, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empiretranslated by Agustín Cadena asEl último príncipe del Imperio Mexicano, will be featured on Tuesday July 15, 2014 in the series of talks on (my translation) "Maximilian in Mexico, A Fictionalized History." The talks are all free and open to the public and held in the Recinto de Homenaje a Don Benito Juárez of Mexico City's National Palace. 
It will be a very special honor for me to present the novel together with Agustín Cadena, for his translation is such a superb one; he is one of Mexico's most accomplished literary writers (and I have been honored to translated some of his short stories); and he is an expert on the novels of the 19th century. (Those baggy monsters… which mine most definitely is.)
(Don't know who Maximilian was and why Mexicans find him so endlessly worthy ofconferences and novels and conferences about the novels? Start here.)

Las escrituras de la historia son variables y a su vez coincidentes. La intrigante pasión por develar la memoria colectiva atrapa por igual tanto a historiadores como a novelistas. Mientras el historiador se ocupa de que los hechos narrados sean verdaderos, el novelista pretende sobre todo que estos sean verosímiles. Sin embargo, cuando el novelista se ocupa de narrar los “grandes” relatos de la historia, éste no puede fácilmente escabullirse del dato histórico, materia prima para el historiador. 
Para conocer las claves de la novela histórica y experiencia creativa de la escritura en voz de algunos de sus representantes, el Recinto de Homenaje a Don Benito Juárez organizó el ciclo de entrevistas presenciales y conferencias: MAXIMILIANO EN MÉXICO, UNA HISTORIA NOVELADA.
José Manuel Villalpando
Martes 1, 17:00 horas/ Entrada libre

Entrevista al autor por Bertha Hernández
Martes 8, 17:00 horas/ Entrada libre 

Agustín Cadena
Martes 15, 17:00 / Entrada libre

Entrevista al autor por Leopoldo Silberman
Jueves  24, 17:00 horas

Alfredo Moreno Flores
Martes 29, 17:00 horas / Entrada Libre


Entrevista al autor por Bertha Hernández
Martes 5, 17:00 horas / Entrada Libre

Entrevista al autor por Ariel Ruiz
Martes 12, 17:00 horas / Entrada Libre
Entrevista al autora por Guadalupe Lozada
Martes 19, 17:00 horas / Entrada Libre

Carlos Mújica
Martes 26, 17 horas / Entrada Libre

Friday, February 21, 2014

Biografía (Biography) edited by Mílada Bazant (and my essay about El último príncipe del Imperio Mexicano)

una colección de ensayos
compilada por
Mílada Bazant
Prólogo de Enrique Krauze
It was a delight and an honor to be able to attend Mílada Bazant's book presentation yesterday evening at the Fería Internacional del Libro in Mexico City's Palacio de Minería. The book, with a splendid prologue by Mexico's leading biographer, Enrique Krauze, is Biografía. Métodos, metodologías y enfoques
El Colegio Mexiquense, 2013. 

Other contributors include Mary Kay Vaughn, Carlos Herrejón Paredo, Daniela Spenser, Rodrigo Terrazas Valdez, Esther Acevedo, Francie Chassen-López, María Teresa Fernández Aceves, Ma. de Lourdes Alvarado, María del Carmen Collado, Susana Quintanilla, Ana Rosa Suárez Arguello, Celia del Palacio, and Yours Truly.

(Bazant is the author of a fine biography, Laura Méndez de Cuenca. Mujer indómita y moderna (1853-1928). Vida cotidiana y entorno. El Colegio Mexiquense. Gobierno del Estado de México; México, 2009.)

Fería Internacional del Libro,
Palacio de Minería,
Ciudad de México, 2014
You can read my essay, which is about the nature of the literary novel per se, and blending the fiction and nonfiction in my own novel, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, here. (The essay is in Spanish and refers to Agustín Cadena's Spanish translation of the novel, El último príncipe del Imperio Mexicano.)

You can order a copy of Bazant's Biografía here.
ISBN 978-607-7761-52-5

P.S. Please be sure to see the previous post about the excellent conference running this winter and spring 2014 about Maximilian in Mexico at the Centro CARSO in Mexico City. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Conference about Maximilian in Mexico: Esplendor y ocaso del Segundo Imperio Mexicano

La fascinación por el Imperio
(Fascination for the Empire)
Patricia Galeana
ISBN 968 6815 31 7
The Centro de Estudios de Historia de México CARSO in Mexico City is hosting an important lecture series by outstanding figures and historians. I was fortunate enough to attend the first one, held this past Monday, of the presentation of Professor Patricia Galeana's  book, La fascinación por el Imperio (Fascination for the Empire). A handsome coffee-table book filled with rare photographs and Dr Galeana's expert accompanying essays, it also includes a photographic album of both imperialist and republican personalities.

The son of historian Berta Flores Salinas also talked about the donation of his mother's library of works about the Second Empire / French Intervention-- a new treasure for the Centro.

The conference is open to the public, but they do request an RSVP since seating is limited.

Las conferencias tendrán lugar los lunes a las 18:00 hrs. en el Salón de Eventos del 
Centro de Estudios de Historia de México Carso Fundación Carlos Slim: 
Plaza Federico Gamboa No. 1-A, Chimalistac.

Centro de Estudios de Historia de México Carso
Fundación Carlos Slim
Plaza Federico Gamboa No. 1
Col. Chimalistac
01070 México D.F.

El Centro de Estudios de Historia de México Carso 
Fundación Carlos Slim 
tiene el honor de invitar a usted al 
Ciclo de Conferencias Primavera 2014
Esplendor y ocaso del Segundo Imperio Mexicano

10 de Febrero

Maximiliano Emperador
Patricia Galeana

Presentación del libro La Fascinación por el Imperio

Ceremonia de donación de la Biblioteca Berta Flores Salinas

17 de Febrero
Historia de la Casa de Habsburgo
Carlos de Habsburgo

24 de Febrero
La otra cara de la Intervención Francesa: 
la fotografía en los tipos populares
Arturo Aguilar Ochoa

3 de Marzo
Maximiliano ¿Príncipe liberal?
Erika Pani

10 de Marzo
Los jardines de Maximiliano
Aurelio de los Reyes

24 de Marzo
Maximiliano y el Museo Nacional
Eduardo Matos Moctezuma

31 de Marzo
 La mesa del emperador 
Jose Luis Curiel

7 de Abril
La Iglesia y el Segundo Imperio
Manuel Olimón Nolasco

28 de Abril
El teatro en el Segundo Imperio I
Jorge del Río

5 de Mayo
El teatro en el Segundo Imperio II
Jorge del Río

12 de Mayo 
La colección del Segundo Imperio en el Museo Soumaya
Alfonso Miranda

19 de Mayo
La ciudad de México en tiempos de Maximiliano
Angeles González Gamio

26 de Mayo
Los fondos del Segundo Imperio en el Centro de Estudios
Manuel Ramos Medina

2 de Junio
Los fondos del Segundo Imperio en la Biblioteca de la Universidad Iberoamericana (los vencidos del 5 de mayo)
Teresa Matabuena 

9 de Junio
Adelante con el progreso
Esther Acevedo

Thursday, January 23, 2014

M.M. McAllen's Maximilian and Carlota: Europe's Last Empire in Mexico

***Update January 2015:
Listen in to my interview with the author here.

M.M. McAllen has just published Maximilian and Carlota: Europe's Last Empire in Mexico, available from Trinity University Press. I read it in draft form and thought it a superb addition to the bibliography. If you happen to be anywhere near San Antonio, Texas, hie on over to The Twig for her book presentation on Saturday February 8, 2014 at 4 pm, and get your signed first edition. It is sure to be a gripping read-- and a collector's item.

(The Twig is a lovely little bookstore. I read there myself back in 2009 on tour for my novel, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire. As I recall there are several good restaurants around the corner-- so why not make a night of it? The event at the Twig is free and open to the public, by the way, and does include refreshments.)

Check out these bodacious reviews for M.M. McAllen's opus:

"On the 150th anniversary of the installation of Austria’s Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian von Habsburg as emperor of Mexico, McAllen offers an authoritative, detailed, and engrossing account of the rise and fall of Mexico’s Second Empire... McAllen ably demonstrates how the Second Empire’s collapse was one of the most spectacular personal tragedies and political failures of the 19th century." — Publishers Weekly

"This is a thorough, complete history of Mexico’s second empire. The author leaves nothing untouched."
— William H. Beezley, professor of history at the University of Arizona
"Maximilian and Carlota is a deeply researched book about a period of Mexican history that, while vital for understanding modern Mexico and its relations with the United States and Europe, is of perhaps unparalleled cultural, political, and military complexity for such a short period."
— C. M. Mayo, author of The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire
“Mexican history offers a phantasmagoria that beggars the imagination. Most writers seem to focus on three distinct eras: Conquest, Independence, and Revolution. But perhaps the most surreal, tragic, yet oddly comedic era in Mexico has gone largely unexamined, until now. M. M. McAllen has written an important book that not only reads like a novel of fantastic inventions but is key to understanding the soul of Mexico today. ” — Luis Albertio Urrea, author of The Hummingbird’s Daughter

And with many thanks to Gayle Brennan Spencer, who blogs at Postcards from San Antonio, I have been alerted to what looks like an excellent show at the Witte Museum in San Antonio, to go along with McAllen's book. Here's the press release:

New Exhibit, Maximilian and Carlota: Last Empire in Mexico, Accompanies Book by Mary Margaret McAllen 
SAN ANTONIO— The Witte Museum presents a new exhibit, Maximilian and Carlota: Last Empire in Mexico, opening February 1 through March 30, 2014 in the Betty Coates Textile Gallery. The rule of Maximilian and Carlota, Emperor and Empress of Mexico in the 1860s, is examined in this exhibit and accompanies the release of the book, Maximilian and Carlota: Europe’s Last Empire in Mexico written by South Texas scholar Mary Margaret McAllen, published by Trinity University Press. 
The exhibition features art and artifacts that have never been exhibited from the Witte’s permanent collections and several important private collections. Formal portraits of Maximilian and Carlota that were recently donated to the Witte Museum will be on public view for the first time. Newspaper articles, vintage photographs and objects from the Mexican Royal Court of the Emperor and Empress of Mexico will also be displayed.
Maximilian and Carlota: Last Empire in Mexico is generously supported by the City of San Antonio Department for Culture and Creative Development. The exhibit is included with general museum admission.
With over 400,000 visitors annually, the Witte Museum promotes lifelong learning through innovative exhibitions, programs and collections in natural history, science and South Texas heritage. For more information visit 


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