Sunday, November 5, 2017


Back when.... many years ago.... when I was researching my novel I paid more than I would ever like to admit to get my hands on a xerox copy of the three volume set of the English translation of Maximilian's Recollections of My Life. Behold, gentle reader and avid researcher, it is now available for free on

Alas, although nonetheless very interesting, and providing a window onto innumerable topics, and his complex and exhuberant personality, Maximilian's recollections are about his travels from 1851- 1860, before coming to Mexico.

Vol. I covers Italy, then Andalusia and Granada

Vol. II. covers Messina, Palermo, Syracuse, The Balearic islands, Valencia and Murcia, Lisbon, Madeira, Algiers, Albania, and under the title "Across the Line," a journey from the Adriatic out the Straights of Gibraltar and towards South America.

Vol. III covers Brazil

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Language of the Correspondence of Maximilian and Carlota

Those of you who follow this blog will have noted that the posts have become infrequent. My novel, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire is now eight years old, and its Spanish translation by Agustin Cadena, El último príncipe del Imperio Mexicano, is seven years old, and I have since moved on to the other projects, among them, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution (2014), "Dispatch from the Sister Republic or, Papelito Habla" (2017), and the book I aim to finish in 2018, World Waiting for a Dream: A Turn in Far West Texas. But gentle reader, please be assured, I will be maintaining this blog indefinitely. I appreciate your emails! Whenever some topic, event, or publication comes up that might be of interest to the general community of researchers on this most labyrinthian and fascinatingly transnational period of Mexican history, as often as possible, I will continue to post a note (or more) here.

This year has been an tumultuous one for me with multiple household moves, so I have fallen more than a bit behind with both my correspondence and my blogs. However, now that I have been able to move my library out of its jumble of cardboard boxes and into roomier quarters on nicely dusted and neatly labeled shelves, I am finally -- joy!!-- able to consult any given book with ease.

Recently, but when my library was still in its muddle of boxes, a writer friend, Amigo G., asked me if I knew, in which language did Maximilian and Carlota converse with each other? Immediately I recalled Konrad Ratz's book, Correspondencia inédita entre Maximiliano y Carlota (Unpublished Correspondence of Maximilian and Carlota), which is the authoritative answer to that subject. Now that this tome is on its properly labeled shelf, from which I can easily pull it out and have a look, I hereby offer up this brief post.

Originally published in German in 2000, Konrad Ratz's Correspondencia inédita entre Maximiliano y Carlota was published by Fondo de Cultura Económica in Mexico in 2003, translated into Spanish by Elsa Cecilia Frost. (Alas, I am unaware of any English translation.) The original documents are in the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin.

No one was there to spy on them with a recording device but I should think it would be safe to assume that, in private, Maximilian and Carlota would have conversed in German, his native language and the language in which they wrote to each other. And happily for us, Maximilian and Carlota wrote to each other often, for they were often apart, traveling on official business. Writes Ratz (my translation from the Spanish translation, p. 42):

"The first surprise is the quantity of the correspondence. Whenever they were apart Maximilian and Carlota wrote to each other almost daily. The private character of this correspondence is shown by their having written in their own hand and in German. Carlota used her "paternal language"* in which she makes certain grammatical and spelling mistakes, for example with articles and tenses. Some phrases are literally translated from French, her maternal language** in which she thought. Taking this into account it is astonishing how fluently she writes in German, which of course she learned from intensive reading. Here and there appear turns of phrase in French, Italian, English and Spanish." 

*Her father was King Leopold of Belgium, born the fourth son of Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, whose native language was German.  
** Her mother was Marie-Louise of Orléans, daughter of Louis-Philippe, who abdicated the French throne in 1848.

In his prologue Dr. Ratz thanks his wife Herta for her assistance in deciphering the Gothic handwriting. It is my firm view that anyone who deciphers Gothic handwriting deserves a literary sainthood and a small altar with flowers refreshed daily. (I am not kidding! If you should ever feel so moved as to give yourself a prize-winning migraine, 30 seconds of attempting to read Gothic handwriting, that's the ticket.)

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Luis Reed Torres's New Book, El Libertador sin patria (The Liberator Without a Country)

This is a mirror post from my main blog, Madam Mayo:

If you haven't heard of Agustín de Iturbide, he is Mexico's George Washington-- but it's complicated.

Last Thursday in the Club de Industriales in Mexico City historian Luis Reed Torres presented his latest book, 
El Libertador sin patria (The Liberator without a Country), a most extraordinary and illuminating collection of 19th century texts about Agustín de Iturbide, many of which he rescued from the deepest, mustiest recesses of the archives. For anyone interested in Mexican history, El Libertador sin patria is a must-read work, and a must-have reference.

For anyone interested in the Second Empire (reign of Maximilian) and the French Intervention, it is crucially important to understand the context, and the First Empire, which is the reign of Agustin de Iturbide.

I hope to post a link to where you can find El Libertador sin patria on-line very soon. In the meantime, for your reference, the ISBN is 978-607-97750-0-1.

Read my prologue in English

Read my prologue in Spanish

My prologue goes into detail about the relationship of Maximilian and the Iturbide Family.

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Tulpa Max or, The Afterlife of a Resurrection (On the 150th Anniversary of the Execution of Maximilian)

Over on my main blog, Madam Mayo, I just posted about a new essay in Catamaran Literary Reader and (in Spanish) in Letras Libres, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Maximilian's execution.

Letras Libres, one of Mexico's finest magazines, has a special section in this month's issue which includes, I am delighted to report, my own essay on Maximilian von Habsbug, "Tulpa Max. La vida después de una resurrección".  ("Tulpa Max or, The Afterlife of a Resurrection.") 

It's a riff on writing historical fiction-- and my novel, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire (Unbridled Books, 2009), which was beautifully translated by Mexican writer Agustín Cadena as El último principe del Imperio mexicano (Random House Mondadori-Grijalbo, 2010).... [CONTINUE READING]


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