Sor Juana Or, the Traps of Faith

ISBN-10: 0674821068

ISBN-13: 9780674821064

Edition: 1988

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Description: Mexico's leading poet, essayist, and cultural critic writes of a Mexican poet of another time and another world, the world of seventeenth-century New Spain. His subject is Sor Juana Ineacute;s de la Cruz, the most striking figure in all of Spanish-American colonial literature and one of the great poets of her age. Her life reads like a novel. A spirited and precocious girl, one of six illegitimate children, is sent to live with relatives in the capital city. She becomes known for her beauty, wit, and amazing erudition, and is taken into the court as the Vicereine's proteacute;geacute;e. For five years she enjoys the pleasures of life at court--then abruptly, at twenty, enters a convent for life. Yet, no recluse, she transforms the convent locutory into a literary and intellectual salon; she amasses an impressive library and collects scientific instruments, reads insatiably, composes poems, and corresponds with literati in Spain. To the consternation of the prelates of the Church, she persists in circulating her poems, redolent more of the court than the cloister. Her plays are performed, volumes of her poetry are published abroad, and her genius begins to be recognized throughout the Hispanic world. Suddenly she surrenders her books, forswears all literary pursuits, and signs in blood a renunciation of secular learning. The rest is silence. She dies two years later, at forty-six. Octavio Paz has long been intrigued by the enigmas of Sor Juana's personality and career. Why did she become a nun? How could she renounce her lifelong passion for writing and learning? Such questions can be answered only in the context of the world in which she lived. Paz gives a masterly portrayal of the life and culture of New Spain and the political and ideological forces at work in that autocratic, theocratic, male-dominated society, in which the subjugation of women was absolute. Just as Paz illuminates Sor Juana's life by placing it in its historical setting, so he situates her work in relation to the traditions that nurtured it. With critical authority he singles out the qualities that distinguish her work and mark her uniqueness as a poet. To Paz her writings, like her life, epitomize the struggle of the individual, and in particular the individual woman, for creative fulfillment and self-expression.

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Book details

List price: $34.50
Copyright year: 1988
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 1/2/1990
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 560
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 0.198
Language: English

Octavio Paz's poetic roots are in romanticism and such neoromantics as D. H. Lawrence, but he has been profoundly influenced by Mexican Indian mythology and oriental religious philosophy, particularly Tantric Buddhism. The latter influence came about while he was serving as Mexico's ambassador to India (1962-68), when he resigned to protest the government's treatment of students demonstrating prior to the Olympic Games in Mexico City. He conceives of poetry as a way of transcending barriers of world, time, and individual self. Through poetry he seeks to achieve a state of innocence and an euphoria of the senses bordering on the mystical, and he expresses anguish when language fails him. Much of Paz's poetry is erotic, with women being the vehicle across the abyss to "the other side of the river," where union with universal consciousness is possible. This element in his poetic vision has of late left him open to acerbic feminist readings. Paz constantly experiments with form in an effort to break down the traditional forms of poetry; several of his long major works are circular and have coexisting variant readings, and Renga is a collaborative poem by poets in four languages. Poetry for Paz is necessarily in conflict with society because of its potential for transmuting and reforming it, and the poetic imagination is a valuable tool for understanding society. His essays on the Mexican character, history, and traditions, such as The Labyrinth of Solitude (1950) and The Other Mexico (1969), are fundamental to understanding Mexican society. He has also written extensively on aesthetics, poetics, and the nature of language and poetry.

Margaret Sayers Peden is an American translator and Professor, she is a Missouri native who was born in 1920. One of the leading translators of her time, Peden has translated more than 40 books and has won numerous prizes and grants. In 2007, she collected a variety of Mexican literature to combine and edit the book Mexican Writers on Writing.

Prologue: History, Life, Work
The Kingdom of New Spain
A Unique Society
The Dais and the Pulpit
Syncretism and Empire
A Transplanted Literature
Juana Ramirez, 1648-11668
The Ramirez Family
May Syllables Be Composed by the Stars
The Trials of Juana Ines
Taking the Vows
Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz, 1669-1679
Life in the Convent
Political Rites
The World as Hieroglyph
Sister Juana and the Goddess Isis
Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz, 1680-1690
Flattery and Favors
Council of Stars
Religious Fires
The Reflection, the Echo
Realm of Signs
Different from Herself
The Tenth Muse
Hear Me with Your Eyes
Ink on Wings of Paper
Music Box
The Stage and the Court
The Float and the Sacrament
First Dream
The Traps of Faith
An Ill-Fated Letter
The Response
And the Responses
The Siege 29 The Abjuration Epilogue Toward a Restitution
Appendix Sor Juana: Witness for the Prosecution
Notes on Sources Spanish Literary Terms
Notes
Index
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