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The Answer & La Respuesta by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
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Apr 25, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: 17th-centurylit, cultural-studies-and-other, permanent-collection, hear-me-roar-and-gender
Recommended to El by: Janice
Read in April, 2009

Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz was a self-taught student in the mid-seventeenth century at a time when the education of women was not encouraged or socially accepted. From an exceptionally young age she would read books from her grandfather's library, and according to the introduction to the book, followed her older sister to her school and tried to trick the teacher in teaching her as well with good results. She entered a convent at a reasonably early age, realizing from the start that it would be the only way for her to be able to seclude herself and devote herself to her personal studies and public writings. La Respuesta is her response to the backlash and attacks she received for her actions. Think A Room of One's Own but written in the seventeenth century during the Spanish Empire.

Her poetry, some of which is included in this volume, is about freedom, particularly the freedom of a woman's mind and spirit. While in the convent she was questionably in relationships, though whether with men, women or both is still uncertain. Her self-education is evident in her writing and specifically in the encouragement for all women to surpass what society expects of them - sort of to say, "Look what I did - if I can do it, so can you".

This had been recommended to me several years ago, and I'm not sure why I've put it off so long. Once I found a copy in a bookstore I should just have sat down then to read it, instead of having it sit on my pretty bookshelf since then. And now that I've read it, despite my initial plans of selling books I've read, I don't know if I can separate from this yet. Sor Juana's writing is about as fantastic as Mary Wollstonecraft's, and infinitely superior to that of Virginia Woolf, even though all three women preached the same thing.

Highly recommended, and not even just for granola-eating, feminist-spouting hippie chicks. Sor Juana's words should resonate in the mind of any reader.
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