Poems, Protest, and a Dream: Selected Writings
Penguin Books, 1997 - 254 pages
Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1648-1695) wrote her most famous prose work, La Respuesta a Sor Filotea, in 1691 in response to her bishop's injunction against her intellectual pursuits. A passionate and subversive defense of the rights of women to study, to teach, and to write, it predates by almost a century and a half serious writings on any continent about the position and education of women. Moreover, notes Ilan Stavans in his introduction, it has become "a cornerstone of Hispanic-American identity ... at once a chronicle of the tense gender relations in the Western Hemisphere, a rich portrait of the social behavior that prevailed more than a century before independence from Spain was gained in 1810, and the very first intellectual autobiography written by a criolla in a hemisphere known for its solipsism, introversion, and allergy to public confessions. Also included in this wide-ranging selection is a new translation of Sor Juana's masterpiece, the epistemological poem "Primero Sueno, " as well as revealing autobiographical sonnets, reverential religious poetry, secular love poems (which have excited speculation through three centuries), playful verses, and lyrical tributes to New World culture that are among the earliest writings celebrating the people and the customs of this hemisphere.