Authors: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Mexican poet

Author Works

Poetry:

Inundación castálida, 1689

Segundo volumen de las obras, 1692 (the long poem Primero sueño is translated as First Dream, 1983)

Fama y obras póstumas, 1700

The Sonnets of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz in English Verse, 2001

Drama:

Amor es más laberinto, wr. 1668, pr. 1689 (with Juan de Guevara)

El divino Narciso, pr. c. 1680 (The Divine Narcissus, 1945)

Los empeños de una casa, pr. c. 1680 (adaptation of Lope de Vega Carpio’s play La discreta enamorada; A Household Plagued by Love, 1942)

El mártir del Sacramento, San Hermenegildo, pr. c. 1692

El cetro de José, pb. 1692

The Three Secular Plays of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, pb. 2000

Nonfiction:

Respuesta de la poetisa a la muy ilustre Sor Filotea de la Cruz, 1700

Miscellaneous:

Obras completas de Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, 1951-1957 (4 volumes: I, Lírica Personal, poetry; II, Villancicos y letras sacras, poetry; III, Autos y Loas, drama; IV, Comedias sainetes y prosa, drama and prose; Méndez Plancarte, editor)

A Sor Juana Anthology, 1988

Biography

Sor (Sister) Juana Inés de la Cruz (krews), born Juana Inés Ramírez de Asbaje, was a child prodigy who learned to read at the age of three and during her life had an insatiable thirst for knowledge. She learned Latin for access to its literature. She early discovered her poetic ability and wrote both humorous and serious verse while serving as lady-in-waiting to the Marquesa de Mancera, wife of the viceroy of Mexico.{$I[AN]9810000625}{$I[A]Cruz, Sor Juana Inés de la}{$S[A]Juana Inés de la Cruz, Sor;Cruz, Sor Juana Inés de la}{$S[A]Inés de la Cruz, Sor Juana;Cruz, Sor Juana Inés de la}{$S[A]De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés[DelaCruz, Sor Juana Inés];Cruz, Sor Juana Inés de la}{$S[A]Asbaje y Ramírez de Santillana, Juana Inés de;Cruz, Sor Juana Inés de la}{$I[geo]WOMEN;Cruz, Sor Juana Inés de la}{$I[geo]MEXICO;Cruz, Sor Juana Inés de la}{$I[tim]1648;Cruz, Sor Juana Inés de la}

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

(Library of Congress)

In pursuit of an intellectual life, she first joined the Barefoot Carmelites, but when their rigid discipline proved too strict, she entered the convent of San Jerónimo in 1669. Her cell, with her enormous private library of four thousand volumes, became a gathering place for the intellectuals of Mexico.

Because of the charm and intellectual brilliance of her writing, she was called México’s Tenth Muse. In poetry, she imitated the Spaniards Luis de Góngora and Francisco Gómez de Quevado y Villegas, who strongly influenced her age. She wrote in a variety of styles, including sixty-five sonnets, the poetic form most popular in the Baroque period in which she lived. About a third of them deal with love, perhaps from her own experience in courtly society. She also wrote First Dream, a long philosophical poem that stands apart from all other Baroque poetry.

Though greatest as a lyric poet, she also wrote, alone and in collaboration, several plays in imitation of Pedro Calderón de la Barca and Lope de Vega Carpio, Spain’s Golden Age playwrights. Her religious plays and lyrics reflect the language and culture of the native people.

Details of her early life are given in her autobiographical essay Respuesta de la poetisa a la muy ilustre Sor Filotea de la Cruz (reply to Sister Philotea of the cross). Ecclesiastical superiors reproved her worldly interests and suggested concentrating on religious matters. Though in her reply she defended women’s rights to intellectual freedom, she did take their advice and sold her library and musical instruments for the benefit of the poor. Several years later, serving as nurse during a plague, she became one of its victims.

BibliographyFlynn, Gerard. Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Boston: Twayne, 1971. A very readable book. Introduces the reader to Sor Juana and her work. The first chapter gives biographical information, and the others review her poetry and drama. A discussion of the criticism of several authors is included, as are a number of quotations from Sor Juana’s work with English translations provided by Flynn. Contains a selected bibliography of mainly Spanish-language sources.Juana Inés de la Cruz, Sister. A Woman of Genius: The Intellectual Autobiography of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Translated with an introduction by Margaret Sayers Peden. Salisbury, Conn.: Lime Rock Press, 1982. Contains a translation of Sor Juana’s defense of her life, Reply to Sor Filotea de la Cruz. Also contains a list of basic sources at the end.Kirk, Pamela. Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Religion, Art, and Feminism. New York: Continuum, 1998. An examination of Sor Juana’s role in the church as well as her literary efforts. Bibliography and index.McKenna, Susan M. “Rational Thought and Female Poetics in Sor Juana’s ‘Primero sueno.’” Hispanic Review 68, no. 1 (Winter, 2000): 37-42. Clear and informative scholarly article includes detailed analysis of the imagery in “Primero sueno,” Sor Juana’s major work. Explains the rational and scientific influences of René Descartes on Sor Juana’s thought and how she veiled these influences in metaphor to elude, for a time, the censure of conservative church authorities.Merrim, Stephanie. Early Modern Women’s Writing and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Nashville, Tenn.: Vanderbilt University Press, 1999. Situates the work of Sor Juana within the field of seventeenth century women’s writing in Spanish, English, and French. The protofeminist writings of Sor Juana are used as a benchmark for the examination of the literary production of her female contemporaries. Includes bibliographical references and index.Merrim, Stephanie, ed. Feminist Perspectives on Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1991. A collection of essays by important literary critics and translators of Sor Juana. Discusses her life, time, and work in the context of feminist criticism.Montross, Constance M. Virtue or Vice? Sor Juana’s Use of Thomistic Thought. Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1981. Examines Sor Juana’s use of Scholastic doctrine and methodology, specifically the ideas of Saint Thomas Aquinas. The author analyzes the combination of belief and questioning in the Carta atenagórica, the Reply to Sor Filotea de la Cruz, and “Primero sueño.” Extensive bibliography and the Spanish text of “Primero sueño” is included.Paz, Octavio. Sor Juana: Or, The Traps of Faith. Translated by Margaret Sayers Peden. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1988. A biography of Sor Juana by a leading Mexican poet, essayist, and cultural critic. Paz emphasizes Sor Juana’s uniqueness as a poet and focuses on her struggle for her intellectual and creative life. Historical settings and traditions are detailed. Included are illustrations, among them portraits of Sor Juana, and a helpful listing of Spanish literary terms.Paz, Octavio, ed. Mexican Poetry: An Anthology. Translated by Samuel Beckett. Reprint. New York: Grove Press, 1985. Contains a discussion of the place of Sor Juana in Mexican poetry as part of Paz’s introduction to the history of Mexican poetry. Within the anthology itself are translations of twelve of Sor Juana’s poems.Pedén, Margaret Sayers, trans. A Woman of Genius: The Intellectual Autobiography of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Salisbury, Conn.: Lime Rock Press, 1982. One of the premier translators from Spanish renders Sor Juana’s memoirs in English.Royer, Fanchón. The Tenth Muse: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Patterson, N.J.: St. Anthony Guild Press, 1952. A good introductory source. Each chapter is introduced with a translated quote from Sor Juana’s work and traces the basic facts of her life along with interpretive commentary. An appendix includes some selected poems in Spanish as well as a short bibliography of Spanish-language sources.
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