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Water Lilies

Water Lilies: An Anthology of Spanish Women Writers from the Fifteenth through the Nineteenth Century

Amy Katz Kaminsky EDITOR
Copyright Date: 1996
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 520
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  • Book Info
    Water Lilies
    Book Description:

    A dazzling sampler of writing by Spanish women. These hard-to-find works, most translated for the first time, are printed on facing pages in Spanish and English and located within a critical, biographical, and historical overview.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8379-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    ... porque inhumana cosa nos pareció de sofrir que tantas obras de virtud y ejemplos de bondad fallados en el linaje de las Mujeres fuessen callados y enterrados en las escuras tinieblas de la olvidanza.

    Don Álvaro de Luna,Libra de las virtuosas y claras mujeres

    For it seemed to us an inhuman thing to suffer that so many works of virtue and examples of goodness found in the lineage of Women should be silenced and buried in the dark shadows of oblivion.

    Don Alvaro de Luna,Book of Virtuous and Fair Women

    Despite patriarchal prescription, the lives of Spanish...

  5. A Note on Spanish Verse Form
    (pp. 15-16)
  6. The fifteenth Century

    • Leonor López de Córdoba
      (pp. 19-32)

      Leonor López de Córdoba is not only Spain’s first autobiographer, but also the first woman to sign her name to a piece of writing in Spanish. Her autobiography is a short but vivid account of a proud, strong-willed woman caught in the political upheavals of her time.

      Daughter of Martín López de Córdoba and Doña Sancha Carrillo, Leonor López de Córdoba was born in December 1362 or January 1363. Her father was Grand Master of the military orders of Calatrava and Alcántara, and a supporter of Pedro I. Her mother, niece of King Alfonso XI, died when Leonor was still...

    • Florence Pinar
      (pp. 33-36)

      Among the fewer than half-dozen women whose names appear in the compilations of songs and poems of the fifteenth century is Florencia Pinar. The three poems reprinted here from theCancionero general(General songbook, 1511) are the only ones that can be definitively attributed to her, but their quality and craft suggest that Pinar wrote others, about which we can now only speculate. Indeed, the history of women’s poetry in Spain before the sixteenth century is, in great part, speculative. Medieval anonymity, together with the popular character of much early lyric, has made the attribution of specific poems impossible. The...

    • Teresa de Cartagena
      (pp. 37-54)

      In the second half of the fifteenth century, Teresa de Cartagena, a nun, became the first Spanish woman to write a defense of women’s writing. She was the only woman to participate in the so-called feminist debate that took place throughout the 1400s, and she embroiled herself in it to defend her own right to authorship.

      Born to a powerfulconversofamily, Teresa de Cartagena lived during an era of transition marked by profound spiritual and intellectual confusion.¹ The new humanism’s notion of the preeminence of the mind confronted the religious consolidation of the peninsula under the banner of Catholicism,...

  7. The Sixteenth Century

    • Saint Teresa of Ávila
      (pp. 57-77)

      Saint Teresa was the mother of the nuns of her reformed order whose work in the kitchen taught her that God was to be found among the pots and pans. She was also the itinerant founder of convents who, over a period of twenty years, spent long months traveling through Spain negotiating the creation of her nunneries. She wrote simple, unpretentious prose for the edification of a few spiritual daughters. She was named a Doctor of the Church, whose books have been translated and read worldwide.¹ A friendly woman desirous of pleasing others, she nevertheless challenged the authorities of her...

    • Lusia Sigea
      (pp. 78-83)

      Among the educated gentlewomen and women artists who served the Portuguese Princess María was the Renaissance humanist Luisa Sigea. Together with Paula Vicente (daughter of writer Gil Vicente), the poet Juana Vaz, and her own sister, Angela, Luisa Sigea participated in the intellectual life of the court for thirteen years, from 1542 to 1555. Fruit of the humanist flowering that allowed a small group of women a classical education, Luisa Sigea wrote almost exclusively in Latin. This gave her stature in her time but almost guaranteed her anonymity for the future. Latin texts by women were not deemed important enough...

    • Beatriz Bernal
      (pp. 84-119)

      Beatriz Bernal was one of a handful of women to write a novel of chivalry, a genre almost exclusively cultivated by men and considered unsuitable for women even to read. These immensely popular tales of knights and monsters, damsels in distress and wicked sorcerers, were severely criticized for their immorality. Juan Luis Vives, author of a treatise on women’s education,De institutione feminae christianae,was one of many experts who believed that such stories of love and adventure were particularly dangerous to women’s sensitive nature. Saint Teresa survived their ill effects, but she was a woman of uncommon spiritual fortitude,...

    • Sor María de la Antigua
      (pp. 120-130)

      It is hard to imagine a life more innocent of the world than Sor Maria de la Antigua’s. Cloistered before she was a year old, she dedicated her entire life to the demands of her religious community, first as a lay sister serving the nuns, and then as a nun herself, serving God. The child of servants, taken in by the sisters, Sor María de la Antigua must have learned humility and obedience early. Waiting on the nuns as a lay sister meant rising above her parents' station, and being able to profess as a nun was a crowning achievement....

  8. The Seventeenth Century

    • Leonor de la Cueva y Silva
      (pp. 133-142)

      Leonor de la Cueva y Silva wrote poems about nature and about love, about jealousy and about people she knew. Her voice is sometimes personal and sometimes well masked by a poetic persona. Born at the beginning of the seventeenth century in Medina del Campo to Doña Leonor de Silva and Don Agustín de Rúa, she was one of several children of this aristocratic family. Serrano y Sanz notes that one of her brothers was a cleric, Jeronimo de la Rua, and two were military men: Antonio de la Cueva y Silva, lieutenant general of the Flemish cavalry, and Juan...

    • Maía de Zayas y Sotomayor
      (pp. 143-201)

      Baptized in Madrid on December 12, 1590, María de Zayas y Sotomayor was the daughter of Don Fernando de Zayas y Sotomayor, Knight of the Order of Santiago, and Doña Maria de Barasa. It is likely that she was in Naples in 1616, where her father served under the Duke of Lemos, and that she lived for some time in Zaragoza, where she published her first volume of tales; but she lived the greater portion of her life in Madrid. It was probably there, during her residency at court, that Zayas became friends with the poet and dramatist, Ana Caro...

    • Ana Caro Mallén de Soto
      (pp. 202-348)

      The only image history permits us to trace of Ana Caro Mallén de Soto is that of professional writer. Stripped of her personal life by time and oblivion, this dramatist and poet-chronicler does not exist outside the memory of her work, and her work was not autobiographical. As what tradition tells us is an anomalous case — a woman who entered the public world— Ana Caro Mallen de Soto left traces of her participation in public events without leaving any official record of her private existence. The only life we can reconstruct for Ana Caro is that which can be glimpsed...

    • Sor Marcela de San Félix
      (pp. 349-370)

      Sor Marcela de San Félix was born in Toledo on May 8,1605, to the actress Micaela Luján. Her father was Micaela’s lover, Lope de Vega, perhaps Spain’s best-known playwright. What happened to Micaela Luján is not known, but from an early age Marcela and her brother, Lope Félix, were raised by a servant. Then, shortly after Lope de Vega’s wife died in 1613, Marcela and Lope Félix went to live with him. One year later, the first reference to Marcela appears in Lope’s letters. In a detail that reveals that he took his responsibilities as a father seriously, Lope wrote...

    • Sor María de Santa Isabel (Marcia Belisarda)
      (pp. 371-382)

      Sor María de Santa Isabel is, from a biographical perspective, a virtual enigma. From what we can deduce from her poems, she was a nun in the Royal Convent of the Conception in Toledo during the seventeenth century. In an encomium to her, Montoya calls her “Toledana,” for which reason we may guess that she was born in Toledo. According to her own testimony, she wrote her first poems at age twenty-seven. The few dates connected to her poems cover the period from 1642 to 1646. After that date she collected her poems in a manuscript, hoping to see them...

    • Catalina Clara Ramírez de Guzmán
      (pp. 383-388)

      Baptized on July 16, 1611, Catalina Clara Ramírez de Guzmán was the daughter of Doña Isabel Sebastiana de Guzman, direct descendant of The Grand Master of the knightly order of Santiago, and Don Francisco Ramírez Guerrero, an official of the Inquisition of Llerena whose duties as a military man and governor often took him from home. Doña Catalina Clara was a prolific writer whose family comes to life in her verse. She dedicated poems to her mother, her father, her brothers, Lorenzo and Pedro, and her three sisters, Ana, Antonia, and Beatriz. These domestic poems bear witness to the traditional...

  9. The Eighteenth Century

    • María Gertrudis Hore
      (pp. 391-403)

      The story of María Gertrudis Hore has not come down to us as biography, in which the individuality of the subject is established in the details that modify the paradigms of biographical narrative. We have come instead to know her story in the form of a moralizing legend in which the norms of gender and genre have devoured the historical reality. As a result, Hore’s story allows us to see with great clarity one of the models of traditional women’s biography: the penitent adultress.

      The legend of the Daughter of the Sun (la Hija del Sol) has eclipsed the story...

    • Margarita Hicky y Pellizoni
      (pp. 404-412)

      Margarita Hicky y Pellizoni was born in Palma de Mallorca, probably in the 1740s. A few years later, her parents, Ana Pellizoni and Domingo Hicky, moved the family to Madrid, where Margarita spent the greater part of her life. It is likely that Ana Pellizoni was a member of the well-known operatic family whose members brought Italian opera to Madrid. Domingo Hicky, of Irish descent, was a lieutenant colonel in the Dragoons, and his sons — Margarita’s brothers— followed him into military careers.

      In 1763 Margarita Hicky married Juan Antonio Aguirre, who was half a century her senior. The couple lived...

  10. The Nineteenth Century

    • Fernán Caballero
      (pp. 415-431)

      With the possible exception of Leonor López de Cordoba, Cecilia Böhl de Faber, who wrote under the pseudonym Fernán Caballero, is the writer in this anthology most conscious of setting out a national program in her work. Resolved not to create what she called “Romanesque” novels, but rather to transmit the reality she observed, convinced of the validity of her parents’ conservatism, and cloaked in an ultramasculine pseudonym with aristocratic medieval overtones, she affirms the values rooted in Spanish absolutism, Catholicism, and traditionalism. At the same time, however, she is forced to break one of the fundamental rules of that...

    • Carolina Coronado
      (pp. 432-455)

      Carolina Coronado was born early in the second decade of the nineteenth century (dates given for her birth range from 1820 to 1823), in Almendralejo, a birthplace she shares with the poet José de Espronceda. She was ten when she wrote her first poem, and about thirteen when she published her ode “A la palma” (To the palm tree). Coronado was from a liberal aristocratic family—her father was persecuted by reactionary forces and even spent some time in prison when absolutism returned to Spain. Coronado received the traditional education of girls of her class: “I studied nothing but the...

    • Rosalía de Castro
      (pp. 456-477)

      Rosalía de Castro is one of the nineteenth century’s most important poets writing in Castilian. Nevertheless, as a key participant in the collective effort to reestablish Galician as a literary language in the struggle against Castilian cultural and political hegemony, she wrote more than half of her poetry in the language of her native Galicia. Rosalía was born in the Galician provincial capital, Santiago de Compostela, February 24,1837. She was baptized María Rosalía Rita, “daughter of unknown parents.” These unknown parents were the seminarian (or perhaps already priest) José Martínez Viojo and Teresa de Castro, the unmarried daughter of an...

    • Emila Pardo Bazán
      (pp. 478-492)

      Emilia Pardo Bazán took advantage of her class privilege to devote herself to a literary and intellectual life, without giving up the pleasures that the world could offer her. The only child of a wealthy, aristocratic family, she learned from her father that “there could not be two sets of morals for the two sexes.”¹ Her mother taught her to read, and Pardo Bazán spent many childhood hours with the books in her father’s library. Later, at the elegant Parisian girls’ school to which her parents sent her, she secretly devoured forbidden French novels.

      Her marriage at the age of...

  11. Sources
    (pp. 493-495)