The Shattered Mirror

[ Latin American Studies ]

The Shattered Mirror

Representations of Women in Mexican Literature

By María Elena de Valdés

How the popular images of women in Mexican literature have changed in the 20th century.



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6 x 9 | 294 pp.

ISBN: 978-0-292-71590-5

Popular images of women in Mexico—conveyed through literature and, more recently, film and television—were long restricted to either the stereotypically submissive wife and mother or the demonized fallen woman. But new representations of women and their roles in Mexican society have shattered the ideological mirrors that reflected these images. This book explores this major change in the literary representation of women in Mexico.

María Elena de Valdés enters into a selective and hard-hitting examination of literary representation in its social context and a contestatory engagement of both the literary text and its place in the social reality of Mexico. Some of the topics she considers are Carlos Fuentes and the subversion of the social codes for women; the poetic ties between Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Octavio Paz; questions of female identity in the writings of Rosario Castellanos, Luisa Josefina Hernández, María Luisa Puga, and Elena Poniatowska; the Chicana writing of Sandra Cisneros; and the postmodern celebration—without reprobation—of being a woman in Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate.

One. The Politics of Representation of Women in Mexican Literature
Two. Rulfo’s Susana San Juan: Woman as Subject and Object of Desire
Three. Carlos Fuentes and the Subversion of the Social Codes for Women
Four. Juana Inés de la Cruz and Octavio Paz: The Crucible of Poetry
Five. Questions of Female Identity: Rosario Castellanos, Luisa Josefina Hernández, and María Luisa Puga
Six. Identity and the Other as Myself: Elena Poniatowska
Seven. The Hard Edge: Cristina Pacheco
Eight. Poetry from the Margins: Sandra Cisneros
Nine. Like Water for Chocolate: A Celebration of the Mexican Pre-Aesthetic
Ten. Conclusion: There Must Be Another Way
One. Women’s Education in Mexico
Two. Other Leading Contemporary Women Writers of Mexico
Three. Sor Juana Criticism
Works Cited

María Elena de Valdés is Administrative Director of the University of Toronto Literary History Project.

"This is a significant contribution to Latin American literature, specifically Mexican letters. It provides excellent analyses of well-known texts, rich and useful data about Mexico's social conditions, and a solid knowledge of theories coming from diverse disciplines."
—Gabriela Mora, Professor of Spanish, Rutgers University