The Fondo de Cultura Económica (FCE), a publishing house owned by the Mexican State, began its activities in 1934. At first, they only published books on economics. But they quickly spread to other branches of knowledge, such as philosophy, anthropology, law or literature. At that time, the institution was established at Calle Madero, number 32, in Mexico City, in the same building that from 1938 began to function as the House of Spain in Mexico. Many Spanish exiles fleeing the Civil War will be welcomed by the Economic Culture Fund, which at that time, says the FCE delegate in Spain, Manuel José Lazcano Ávila, filled the void that existed in the field of translation. “Characters of the stature of Francisco Giner de los Ríos arrived, who publishes with the FCE, who give a very powerful vitality to the institution.” Later, it would open branches in different Latin American countries. For example, when Pinochet seizes power in 1973, after the bombing of the Palacio de la Moneda and the assassination of Allende, the first thing the dictatorship does is close the FCE branch in Santiago de Chile. The same thing happens in Videla’s Argentina, where there is a burning with the Fund’s books. Each FCE collection is in the hands of specialized people, who have a “quite select” catalog. From 1934 to today, more than 10,000 titles have been published. Many of them have been able to reach Murcian readers these days thanks to the Murcia Book Fair, which is currently experiencing its last day, and where the FCE is the only foreign institution present. Lazcano’s balance could not be better, and he assumes that they will return in the next edition.
of the authors that are part of the catalog of the Economic Culture Fund (FCE) are Nobel laureates, not just literature. 35 of them also deserved the Cervantes. A few years ago, the FCE surpassed the 100 millionth printed copy.
«It was time to leave, this year we have been to the Madrid Book Fair, the independent publishers fair, the Voix Vives festival in Toledo and the Murcia Book Fair, where people have welcomed us with The open arms. We have a relationship with the University of Murcia and with Professor José Javier Ruiz Ibáñez [Departamento de Historia Moderna, Contemporánea, de América, del Pensamiento y de los Movimientos Sociales y Políticos], through the Columnarian Network of Excellence. We have several books that we have published with him as the author, and we are very happy, because he has supported us and has known the FCE for a long time, “Lazcano told LA VERDAD. “We are very interested in getting closer to people, and for this we want to lower the price of books so that they are affordable for any type of person. In addition to the ‘Breviarios’, which is a traditional collection, we have released the new Popular collection, very good narrative titles to introduce to reading, with affordable prices and good quality. We want to open new readers, Spanish is the language of all of us, and also to discover new authors ». The Fondo de Cultura Económica has two bookstores in Madrid: the Juan Rulfo, in Moncloa, and the Martín Luis Guzmán, since 2018 at the Casa de México in Spain, in Chamberí.
The book ‘Palinuro de México’, by the Mexican writer Fernando del Paso, winner of the Cervantes Prize in 2015. Some titles published by the FCE: ‘The Eternal Feminine’, ‘Popol Vuh’, ‘El libro de los Cerdos’ and’ El big crocodile. ‘
The books of the Mexican publisher were banned for a long time and began to arrive in Spain “almost in hiding.” “The Fund was a great support for the intellectuals who could not leave, and every time a news arrived they pounced on it because they knew of the quality of its publications.”
Today the FCE has eight subsidiaries in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Spain, the United States, Guatemala and Peru. “Translations are fundamental, as are breviaries, that bring high culture closer to the masses, especially at a price they can afford.” The role of the FCE, more than an industry that sells books, is an institution that is responsible “for training readers”, and has trained in this spirit “hundreds of generations of readers.” Among those authors, for example, stand out Fernando del Paso, winner of the 2015 Cervantes Prize, or Francisco Brines, who presented at the Murcia Book Fair ‘As if nothing had happened’, or ‘Joana’, by Joan Margarit; or the ‘Complete Stories’, by Leonora Carrington, or the ‘Poetry not complete’, by Wisława Szymborska.
A surprise for the FCE delegation to Murcia is the sale at the Book Fair of all the copies they brought by the great Mexican intellectual Rosario Castellanos, a poet who is part of the generation of the 1950s and contemporary of Alí Chumacero (‘Páramo de dreams’) and the poet Jaime Sabines. One of the most transgressive books that the FCE has brought to Murcia is Anthony Browne’s classic ‘The Book of Pigs’: it is the story of Mrs. De la Cerda, who has a husband and two children, she serves them breakfast, She cooks for them, irons them, cleans the house and also works outside the home, until one day, tired of doing the same, she abandons them and leaves them a little note: ‘They are pigs’. The end is not wasted.
Another great book is the one signed by Efraín Huerta, ‘El Gran Cocodrilo en thirty poemínimos’ which tries to bring poetry closer to the little ones and make them understand that poetry can become dangerous in the long run …
“It gives us great satisfaction to see that the FCE is known in Murcia and that there are people here interested in poetry”, highlights Gian Pierre Codarlupo, Peruvian writer [prologuista del libro ‘Transhumano’, de Manuel Gerardi, de la Editorial Ultramarina C&D]. The environmentalist poet Homero Aridjis, a classic; the rare poetics of Eduardo Milan, or Gerardo Deniz, son of Republican Spanish exiles, who arrives in Mexico at the age of 7 and whose “impressive strength” is discovered by Octavio Paz when he was in India as ambassador, are authors who have been present in Murcia, through his works, thanks to the FCE. Also Balam Rodrigo and his ‘Central American Book of the Dead’, the experience of Central American migrants to cross the border to the United States.Or Tomás Segovia, Rómulo Bustos Aguirre, Rubén Darío, Gaston Bachelard or the mythical Mayan texts of the ‘Popol Vuh’ .