A Woman to Know: Rosario Castellanos
|Julia Carpenter||Jul 22, 2016|
It isn't even enough to discover who we are. We have to invent ourselves. — Rosario
(image via Mexican Department of Culture)
In 1950s Mexico, Rosario Castellanos was an outlier. She was a woman living alone, teaching at Western institutions and exploring the intersectionality of race, gender and class in her own sliver of Mexico. Professors teach her poem "Valium 10" as South America's answer to Sylvia Plath. In the verses, she describes the anxiety of daily life:
The day turns into a mere succession
Of incoherent facts and functions
That you perform through habit and inertia.
And you live it.
And you dictate the letter to whom it may concern.
Rosario's other poems and prose works explored the politics and social barriers hindering Mexico's women, similar to the feminist awakening American women experienced with Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique." But the comparisons to other writers don't capture the profound impact Rosario's work was having in her own lifetime. Her magnum opus, "Sobre cultura femenina," was a rallying cry for young Mexican feminists looking to understand social justice and contemporary feminist politics. Scholars have described her work as "the starting point for the liberation of Mexican women."
Add to your library list:
A Rosario Castellanos Reader (University of Texas Press)
The Book of Lamentations (Rosario Castellanos)
El Eterno Feminino (Rosario Castellanos)
Ciudad Real (Rosario Castellanos)
Rosario Castellanos Dies (The New York Times)
Rosario Castellanos, Mexican writer (Britannica)
The Sorrows of the Maya (The Washington Post)
Translating the Abyss (Poetry Foundation)
Mythological Constructs of Mexican Femininity (Pilar Melero)
Woman's Many Lives in "El Eterno Femenino" (The New York Times)
Rosario Castellano's 91st birthday (Google)
** Thank you to Casey Lurtz for turning me on to Rosario's poetry! I'm officially in love. **
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