Born Juana de Asbaje in a small town, this Mexican author became a nun in 1669, probably because her illegitimate birth removed her from consideration for marriage to someone worthy of her. A misfit in a restrictive colonial society that mistrusted such intense intellectual curiosity in a woman, Asbaje was the finest lyric poet and one of the most interesting dramatists of the Spanish American colonial period. Despite the opposition of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, she carried out scientific experiments and became the confidante of nobility and a correspondent of intellectuals throughout Spanish America. A Woman of Genius (Respuesta a Sor Filotea) is an extraordinary document of the intellectual history of a woman who would not be defeated by her circumstances. Ultimately, she sold her books and devoted herself to caring for the sick and poor; she died of an illness contracted while nursing during an outbreak of the plague.
Ilan Stavans is the author of "The Hispanic Condition", "The Riddle of Cantinflas", & "The One-Handed Pianist & Other Stories" as well as the editor of "The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories" & a dictionary of Spanglish, among other volumes. He has been a National Book Critics Circle Award nominee & the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship & the Latino Literature Prize, among other honors. He teaches at Amherst College.
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.