Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Women in the Prose of María de Zayas

Women in the Prose of María de Zayas

EAVAN O’BRIEN
Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 294
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt9qdpmm
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Women in the Prose of María de Zayas
    Book Description:

    María de Zayas y Sotomayor published two volumes of novellas, Novelas amorosas y ejemplares (1637) and Desengaños amorosos (1647), which enjoyed immense popularity in her day. She has recently been reinstated as a major figure of the Spanish Golden Age. This study examines Zayas's prose through a gynocentric lens. Drawing on an extensive array of primary and secondary sources, and referring to the ideas of Irigaray, Kristeva, Cixous, Raymond and Genette, O'Brien reflects on the interactions of Zayas's women in such relationships as friendship, sisterhood, and motherhood, analyzing these interactions through the collections as a whole, and connecting the novellas with the frame stories, an aspect of Zayas's writing which has often been overlooked by critics. EAVAN O'BRIEN is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at Trinity College Dublin.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-918-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction: Zayas’s Prose, a Feminine World
    (pp. 1-8)

    In this defensive manner, María de Zayas y Sotomayor first addresses the readership of herNovelas amorosas y ejemplares(1637) in the ‘Al que leyere’ prologue. Through her confident defence of female intelligence, she strips hercaptatio benevolentiaeof even the barest veil of humility. By contrast, Mariana de Carvajal, one of her successors in the Spanish novella genre, would later adopt a more bashful stance, seeking allowances to be made for ‘ los defectos de una tan mal cortada pluma’ and referring to herNavidades de Madrid(1663) as ‘aborto inútil de mi ingenio’.² Zayas’s audacity is all the...

  6. 1 Women’s Alliances and the Frame ‘Sisterhood’
    (pp. 9-55)

    This chapter will identify and explore a tendency within Zayas’s gallery of women’s interrelations or feminine world: the progressive emergence and consolidation of friendships among female protagonists in the novellas and frame narrative (i. e. the diegetic and metadiegetic narrative levels).² Most importantly, I detect in Zayas’s prose an early example of what Janice Raymond has since termed ‘Gyn/affection’. In the latter part of this chapter, I contrast the burgeoning Gyn/affection among Zayas’s female protagonists with representations of friendship in other seventeenth-century Spanish works, including female-authoredcomedias. Several instances of woman’s perfidy towards her fellow sex in Zayas’sNovelas amorosas...

  7. 2 Women’s Perfidy and the Subversion of Sisterhood
    (pp. 56-101)

    Within Zayas’s feminine world, problematically diverse relationships between female characters are frequently of significance in the development of plot in her novellas; relations of courtship between the two sexes do not receive sole or even main authorial attention. Zayas’s elucidation of human relationships, particularly those between women, coincides with Brownlee’s view of the Baroque epoch where ‘contradictions are designed to be foregrounded and insoluble’.¹ It follows that a Baroque writer such as Zayas should illustrate and explore interaction in specific sectors of society, particularly those to which the author would have been most exposed – women’s same-sex relationships – and should reveal...

  8. 3 The Intersection of Gender and Class in Zayas’s Feminine World
    (pp. 102-157)

    This chapter will explore another significant aspect of the gynocentric orientation of Zayas’s prose works: the intersection of gender with class in women’s interrelationships. I will demonstrate that she weaves the threads of these class-based interactions into two distinct tapestries. While critics often contend that Zayas espouses a conservative agenda that poses no challenge to her society’s class structure, I intend to uncover the richness of her classbased discussion: through the focus of her female gaze and the medium of her woman’s voice, she intricately explores the complexities of inter-class issues throughout the novellas. Thus, I wish to consider how...

  9. 4 Absences/Presences: Mother-Daughter Relationships
    (pp. 158-202)

    In an oft-quoted remark, Adrienne Rich wrote that, ‘before sisterhood, there was the knowledge – transitory, fragmented, perhaps, but original and crucial – of mother-and-daughterhood’.¹ Having discussed the dialectics of women’s sisterhood, betrayals, and service in María de Zayas’s prose, attention is here turned to this other axial female relationship: the intergenerational mother– daughter bond. In Coppélia Kahn’s terms, I trace the ‘maternal subtext’ of Zayas’s tales, with specific reference toEl prevenido engañado,El imposible vencido, andEl jardín engañoso, from theNovelas amorosas y ejemplares.² In these novellas, family separation and restrictive, external circumstances hamper mothers’ efficacy to varying degrees....

  10. 5 Other ‘Mothers’: Surrogates and the Mother of God
    (pp. 203-241)

    In the male-dominated literature of Zayas’s time, it is striking that she regularly portrays the mother, and the mother–daughter relationship, as an important balancing measure in terms of gender relations. As the previous chapter demonstrated, the limited influence that mothers wield in theNovelas amorosas y ejemplaresfurther diminishes in Zayas’s second collection of novellas. Nonetheless, these relationships need to be supplemented and strengthened. When parents or husbands are frequently absent, powerless, or disinclined to protect, endangered women must obtain succour elsewhere. Under the oppressive circumstances present in the Desengañosamorososand, at times, in theNovelas amorosas y...

  11. Conclusion: A Gynocentric Ending: ‘No es trágico fin’
    (pp. 242-245)

    Thus, Zayas’s second prose work, theDesengaños amorosos, reaches its conclusion: in the closing paragraph, the narrator unexpectedly addresses Fabio, an inscribed reader, at the extradiegetic level. Within thenovela cortesanagenre, we can draw a parallel between Zayas’s Fabio and Lope de Vega’s titular Marcia Leonarda, whom his narrator addresses in the novellas, albeit with far greater frequency. This is the first clear indication of the extradiegetic Fabio’s existence.¹

    Zayas’s narrator offers Fabio an open-ended invitation to seek out Lisis ‘con intento casto’ in the convent (DA511). Written in the style of an oral address, its implication contrasts...

  12. Appendix 1: Women’s Interrelationships in Zayas’s Novelas amorosas y ejemplares
    (pp. 246-246)
  13. Appendix 2: Women’s Interrelationships in Zayas’s Desengaños amorosos
    (pp. 247-248)
  14. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 249-276)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 277-282)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 283-283)