Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Nahuatl Theater, Volume 2: Our Lady of Guadalupe

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Nahuatl Theater, Volume 2: Our Lady of Guadalupe

Article excerpt

Nahuatl Theater, Volume 2: Our Lady of Guadalupe. Edited by Barry D. Sell, Louise M. Burkhart, and Stafford Poole. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. 2006. Pp. xii, 229. $49-95.)

Each year, on the eve of the celebration on December 12 that is dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, there begins the ritual of the appearance of television series, films (new or old), theater productions, books, and many periodical articles concerning the miracle of the presence of the Virgin Mary in Tepeyac, to the north of Mexico City. In accordance with social conditions, economics, and political demands in the country, it is possible to detect the inclusion in this material of changes to some situations, or the pre-Hispanic, colonial, or modern people participating in the part of the account that is the best known and most often repeated.This is the Nican mopohua (It is told in an orderly way), a text in the Nahuatl language that was published for the first time in 1649. It has become the axis and paradigm for our knowledge of the tradition. And so it seems that this custom of using the Guadalupan apparitions as a foundation and beginning for other narrations, primarily those with a tendency to admonish and promote the exemplary life, has its beginning in previous centuries, as the work reviewed here proves.

In this second volume on the Nahuatl theater (the first, entitled Nahuatl Theater. Death and Life in Colonial Nahua Mexico, was edited in 2004 by Barry D. Sell and Louise M. Burkhart, with the assistance of Gregory Spira), the editors undertake the laborious task of reconstructing and translating into English various Guadalupan texts in the Nahuatl language: a Coloquio (Dialogue on the Apparition of the Virgin Saint Mary of Guadalupe) and a comedy with the title Portento mexicano (The Wonder of Mexico), as well as a song, a sermon, and a prayer. The translations, to which Lisa Sousa also contributed, are accompanied by two critical essays written by Stafford Poole and Louise M. Burkhart. These clarify various aspects of the contents, particularly the social relationships that the works reflect.

Thanks to the experience that they have acquired in critical translations of colonial Nahuatl texts, the editors bring us a highly useful work, a contribution to various areas of knowledge concerning the indigenous Mexican of the past and especially Guadalupan studies, which traditionally have been based on a limited number of sources from the indigenous and Hispanic traditions. …

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