Miguel León-Portilla (b. 1926) is recognized worldwide as the leading authority on Aztec (Nahua) history, literature, and philosophy. His 1959 work, La Filosofia Nahuatl estudiada en sus fuentes, published in the U.S. as Aztec Thought and Culture, revealed the world of Mesoamerica in a new light. His translation, with Librado Silva Galeano, of the Huehuetlahtolli (Wisdom of the Elders), published in a massive edition at the five hundredth anniversary of the arrival of Columbus in the Western Hemisphere, showed to millions of Mexicans that there was a formalized ethics before the invasion of the Europeans.
As León-Portilla's work on Mesoamerica became more widely known, it contributed greatly to the now commonly held view that Mesoamerica produced one of the world's original civilizations. His many honors include a second term, beginning in 2003, as president of the Mexican Academy, and he has received honorary degrees from universities in Mexico, the U.S., Israel, Czechoslovakia, Bolivia, and Peru. His prizes include the Academic Order of the Palm (France), Bartolomé de las Casas (Spain), and Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowships.
León-Portilla has been the editor of Estudios de Cultura Nahuatl since 1959 and of Tlalocan since 1979. He has published more than forty books, including Vision de los Vencidos, Fifteen Poets of the Aztec World, The Aztec Image of Self and Society, and (with Earl Shorris) In the Language of Kings: An Anthology of Mesoamerican Literature--Pre-Columbian to the Present. For more than ten years he has been working on a translation from Nahuatl of the Cantares Mexicanos, which is the most esoteric and perhaps the most spiritual of the works of the ancient Aztec oral literature.
Earl Shorris was a prominent social critic and author. His works include Ofay; The Boots of the Virgin; A Novel of Pancho Villa; The Death of the Great Spirit; The Oppressed Middle: Scenes From Corporate Life; Latinos: A Biography of the People; and New American Blues: A Journey Through Poverty to Democracy among others. He was the coeditor of In the Language of Kings: An Anthology of Mesoamerican Literature, Pre-Columbian to the Present; The Life and Times of Mexico; and While Someone Else Is Eating: Poets and Novelists on Reaganism. He was a contributing editor to Harper’s, and his essays and articles appeared in the Nation, the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, American Educator, the Antioch Review, and many more publications. He founded and chaired the advisory board of The Clemente Course in the Humanities; and cofounded—with Howard Meredith and members of the Kiowa, Cherokee, Chickashaw, Maya, Nahua, Lakota, CYup'ik, and other tribes and nations—the Pan-American Indian Humanities Center at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. He died in May of 2012.
Sylvia Sasson Shorris is the author of Talking Pictures: With the People Who Made Them and co-editor of While Someone Else Is Eating: Poets and Novelists on Reaganism and In the Language of Kings: An Anthology of Mesoamerican Literature Pre-Columbian to the Present. She has published articles in The Nation, Chicago Tribune, Fork Roads, and Review (a publication of the Center for Inter-American Relations), and has been a translator in Mexico for Luis Montes Film Distribution, and in New York for 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation.