Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

A Wild Country out in the Garden: The Spiritual Journals of a Colonial Mexican Nun

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

A Wild Country out in the Garden: The Spiritual Journals of a Colonial Mexican Nun

Article excerpt

Latin America

A Wild Country out in the Garden: The Spiritual Journals of a Colonial Mexican Nun. Selected, Edited, and Translated by Kathleen A. Myers and Amanda Powell. (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. 1999. Pp. xxxv, 386. $39.95.)

This book represents an important moment in the evolution of historical and literary studies of Hispanic nuns' writings. The pioneering research and writings of the historians Josefina Muriel and Asuncion Lavrin first brought attention to the field of Hispanic nuns' writings, as did the groundbreaking work of literary scholars and critics Elects Arenal and Stacey Schlau. Arenal and Schlau's 1989 bilingual anthology and critical and literary study of Hispanic nuns' writings (Untold Sisters: Hispanic Nuns in Their Own Works) was a seminal project for which Amanda Powell provided translations of the primary texts included in the book.

Myers and Powell divide the major part of their book into two chapters. They preface them with an introduction focusing on the style and language of the selected texts, whose translation and order present formidable stylistic and organizational obstacles. The first chapter contains a compilation of translated and edited selections taken from Sor Maria de San Jose's twelve volumes of writings held in the John Carter Brown Library archives. The passages are chronically ordered and offer examples of different genres and types of spiritual and personal accounts. Each selection highlights themes that offer an interesting and informative representation of colonial life in New Spain and a species of (auto)biography. In part the autobiographical structure results from the chronological order of the selections, which begin with Sor Maria de San Jose's formative years, her entrance into the Augustinian convent in Puebla, and her departure from there to assist in the foundation of a sister convent in Oaxaca. …

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