For his extensive work, the depth of his ideas, his erudition, and intellectual height, as a poet, ambassador, narrator, playwright, and essayist, Alfonso Reyes protects and influences all writers of the twentieth century and many of its thinkers; and also floods with wisdom all ignorance that comes his way.

He was born on May 17, 1889, in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. Son of Bernardo Reyes, governor of Nuevo Leon and very close to Porfirio Diaz; and Aurelia Ochoa. His first studies were in his hometown and high school at the French Lycée in Mexico City.

In 1909, together with writers Pedro Henríquez Ureña, Alfonso Caso, José Vasconcelos and Julio Torri, he founded El Ateneo de la Juventud ("The Athenaeum of Youth"). At the age of 21, he publishes his first book Cuestiones Estéticas ("Aesthetic Questions").

At the age of 23, he obtains a law degree and becomes a teacher and secretary of the National School of Higher Studies, currently the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), where he founds the chair of History of Spanish Language and Literature.

In 1914, after the death of his father, he travels to Spain, establishes contact with the most important literary figures such as José Ortega y Gasset, Juan Ramón Jiménez, and Ramón Gómez de la Serna, later he joins the diplomatic service; he is appointed the second secretary of the Mexican Legion in Spain, Chargé d'Affaires in Spain, Minister in France, Ambassador in Argentina and Ambassador in Brazil until 1938.

Reyes' work is an almost unfathomable universe, committed to his humanist ideal, nothing is alien to him, so he wrote plays, poetry, novels, essays, translations, and on the most diverse subjects. Author of more than two hundred works, among which stand out: Visión de Anáhuac, Ifigenia cruel, El deslinde, Letras de la Nueva España, Los trabajos y los días, Junta de sombras and Cartilla moral.

Why do you have a soul that cries out in your own way and without a voice? The roads of life do not lead to where I am going. - Alfonso Reyes' famous phrase
Alfonso Reyes, Writer in a hallway, portrait.
Alfonso Reyes, Writer in a hallway, portrait. Image: INAH

In 1939 he settled in Mexico City with his wife Manuela Mota and his son Alfonso Bernardo in the house located at 122 Benjamin Hill Street, Colonia Condesa. In 1980, the building became the Alfonsina Chapel, which houses Alfonso Reyes' library, works of literature, history, and art; literary workshops, book presentations, concerts, temporary exhibitions, and guided tours are held there.

In 1972 the Alfonso Reyes International Award is created, among the winners are Jorge Luis Borges, Alejo Carpentier, Carlos Fuentes, Octavio Paz, Mario Vargas Llosa, Eduardo Lizalde, Fernando del Paso, Sergio Pitol and Adolfo Castañón. He died on December 27, 1959 at the age of seventy and his remains are in the Rotunda of Illustrious Persons.