La escritora española y el prólogo como género literario (pre-1700)



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Oh my reader, no doubt it will amaze you that a woman has the nerve, not only to write a book but actually to publish it, for publication is the crucible in which the purity of genius is tested. This opening line to María de Zayas prologue presents the critical situation of women s authorship in Early Modern Spain. When women began to write in the 15th century they were faced with criticism, accused of plagiarism, and silenced. These women utilized the prologue as a space within their work to defend themselves not only as writers, but as women who are writing, a clear distinction that required a new kind of rhetoric. The Spanish prologue has been studied as a literary genre, although in these studies, women s prologues are almost never included. Using Paratexts (Gerard Genette 1997) and El prólogo como género literario (Alberto Porqueras Mayo 1957) as a main framework to the prologue as a literary genre, this study also explores the anxiety of authorship felt by women because of their gender, and how this later carried out in a new type of discourse, distinctively feminine in that the women are able to establish their own authority of authorship by using specific rhetorical strategies. The introduction to this study addresses the issue of the women-writer association, authorship and what it means to be a woman participating in what was considered to be a male space. For many women, entering this male-dominated space was both liberating and confining. While they were able to finally contribute to the literary world, these women also were limited because they had to work within the confines created by men. This study examines the prologues of three specific women authors and how they utilized this space to defend themselves: Teresa de Cartagena, who wrote in the 15th century, was one of the first women writers in Spain, and is the most isolated of the three women in that she had no precursor to serve as a model. Later, in the 16th century, Santa Teresa de Jesús, nun and founder of the Discalced Carmelites, wrote a number of religious works. Santa Teresa had a very large impact on other religious and was a forerunner for many other women writers. Lastly, María de Zayas was a novelist in 17th century Spain who was very well known at the time. Throughout the study I look at Gerda Lerner s definition of feminist consciousness , relating this theory to the authors and their discourses of proto-feminism in their prologues.



spain, women writers, prologue