Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"S" is for Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

A 17th Century Feminist

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz 1651-1695

Today's post is on a pretty awesome lady, Sor Juana. Born in colonial Mexico she showed a love of learning at a very young age. She learned to read and write by age three and at age eight she was already writing poetry.

As a teenager she asked her mother permission to disguise herself as a man so she could attend university. Her mother forbid her from doing so and so she continued studying and writing in secret.

As a young woman, instead of marrying she decided to become a nun. Some attribute this to her very religious upbringing but others state that she didn't want to be forced to live under the rule of a man. So instead she chose to live with God in her heart and continue her writing and scholarly learning.

She wrote many works but today only a handful remain. The church grew wary of her outspokenness and threatened to censor her writing (she defended the right for the education of women and girls).


Mexican 200 peso bill

Today she is thought of as a very important figure in Mexican and Spanish literary history. One of the most famous books about her was written by Octavio Paz (who I wrote about back in "O") and you can find her face on our Mexican 200 peso bills. 

We have a few books on her at home as well. My Dad is a big fan himself and who wouldn't be?

One of my favorite poems by her can be found here. It is an English translation for everyone to enjoy. It's a critique towards men and their expectations and impatience with women.


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21 comments:

  1. I attended Elementary School in a Religious all girl Catholic school in Mexico, I never thought of it as avant-garde or Feminist but I remember being taught about Sor Juana Inez De La Cruz... so I may just have to re-examine certain memories. #AtoZchallenge ☮Peace
    ☮ ღ ONE ℒℴνℯ

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    1. Well I can't imagine that the majority of the lesson plans would be avant-garde. But Sor Juana is important enough in Mexican history to be mentioned in any kind of Mexican school. They might have just focused on her literary importance though.

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  2. Hi Cely .. well she had conviction didn't she - interesting lady and obviously thought very highly of .. interesting to read about her.

    Thanks - Hilary

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    1. Hi Hilary! I'm glad you enjoyed it. People like this should definitely be remembered.

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  3. I love reading about guts women in history. You have to wonder how many women had to hide their intelligence just to fit in.

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    1. I know! There must have been so many of them! I can only imagine how many of them we will never know about but probably should.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting by the way!

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  4. What a great woman! You have to admire someone with brains and courage.

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  5. Great post. She seems an interesting lady, definitely one to be admired.
    Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

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  6. Very interesting, Cely. Thanks for teaching us about Sor Juana! :)

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    1. Thank you Colin! She really is worth knowing.

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  7. Smart and curious women often ended up being nuns just to be able to study. I think the idea that smart women end up alone somehow stems from this historical trend...

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Tales of colors
    MopDog - The crazy thing about Hungarians...

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    1. They did didn't they. It's sad that to some extent it's still believed that in the relationship it's the man who is supposed to be "more intellectual". It's not as prevalant as it was but it still exists.

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  8. As a writer, she would make a great subject for a novel, a great character. Thanks for sharing a post about a strong woman. Love it.

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    1. Thank you for visiting! And your right, she would make a great character for a novel. I believe there have been some novels written about her but unfortunately I haven't read any yet.

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  9. What a courageous woman to take the road where she could have some control over her own life at a time when most women couldn't. I'm not familiar with her but she sounds very special.

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  10. Loved your noses back at N. Sor Juana seems to have hers up in the air a bit from my reading of her poem. Didn't care for men much, that's for sure. I enjoy perusing your posts. I don't know as much about Mexican history as I probably should; so I appreciate some of these history lessons, but I really love the art. Thanks. Maria from Delight Directed Living

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  11. She sounds like a really interesting character. I love reading about forward thinking, strong women like that. They're such an inspiration. I had never heard of Sor Juana, so thanks for sharing that! :)

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