Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz

Until today I had never heard of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, a seventeenth century nun, poet and scholar from Latin America. (I came across her in a prayer by Joan Chittister, OSB that somebody gave me me to use during Lent.)

In her convent cell, Sor Juana amassed one of the largest private libraries in the New World. She is considered the last great writer of the Hispanic Baroque period. She was a prolific writer - the authoritative modern edition of her complete works runs to four lengthy volumes.

Sor Juana achieved considerable renown in Mexico and in Spain. With renown came disapproval from church officials. (Where have I heard that story before?).

In November 1690, Manuel Fernández de Santa Cruz, bishop of Puebla, published without Sor Juana's permission her critique of a 40-year-old sermon by a Portuguese Jesuit preacher. Sor Juana responded to the bishop of Puebla in March 1691 with Respuesta a sor Filotea de la Cruz, her self-defense and defense of all women's right to knowledge.

"From the moment I was first illuminated by the light of reason, my inclination toward letters has been so vehement that not even the admonitions of others . . . nor my own meditations... have been sufficient to cause me to forswear this natural impulse that God placed in me.

She is considered to be the first published feminist of the New World and the most outstanding writer of the Spanish American colonial period.

Read more about her here and here.


Garpu the Fork said...

Pretty sad, though, that she was forced to sell all her books and renounce writing...I guess there's a lesson in it for us all that talent should be encouraged, even when it's critical.

xsquared said...

What a blast from the past - I wrote a paper for my high school English class on Sor Juana! I haven't thought about her in years and years.