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Re/Arte Centro Literario

The Tenth Muse: Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz

The Tenth Muse: Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz

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In this well-rounded study, which was first published in 1952, author Fanchón Royer vividly presents Sor Juana Inés De La Cruz (1648-1695), a seventeenth-century Hieronymite nun of New Spain, known in her lifetime as “The Tenth Muse”, “The Phoenix of America”, or the “Mexican Phoenix”.

A famous and controversial figure of her time, Sor Juana was a self-taught scholar, student of scientific thought, philosopher, composer and poet of the Baroque school. She lived during Mexico’s colonial period, making her a contributor both to early Mexican literature as well as to the broader literature of the Spanish Golden Age. She began her studies at a young age and, being fluent in Latin and also writing in Nahuatl, became known for her philosophy in her teens. Sor Juana educated herself in her own library and, after joining a nunnery in 1667, began writing poetry and prose dealing with such topics as love, feminism, and religion. Sister Juana’s criticism of misogyny and the hypocrisy of men led to her condemnation by the Bishop of Puebla, and in 1694 she was forced to sell her collection of books and focus on charity towards the poor.

This fascinating book includes a translation of the nun’s famous La Carta Atenagorica, and her refutation of Father Vieira’s theological proposition, together with her substitute proposition and its sound theological defense, are cited to prove Juana’s remarkable grasp of theology. This disputation is the only one of Sor Juana’s works to be given in translation. A rich selection of her poetry in the original Spanish are also included in an appendix, and the book is beautifully illustrated throughout.
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