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It seems only fitting to conclude by citing the final lines of the poem that closes the Fama y obras pósthumas. Written in Latin by the Mexican intellectual Felipe Santiago de Barrales, the highly affected and pedantic funeral elegy subscribes to the well-tried topic of the ubi sunt? by appearing not on Sor Juana’s tombstone but on her cenotaph. Accordingly, the poet describes how the nun retains her voice in the afterworld:
Yo soy aquella, dijo, que excitada por el amor de Sofía,
Concebí doctos libros en el virgíneo pecho.
Por tanto, a fin de no despojarme, sepultada, de tan gran amor, me
transformo aun en volumen más útil para los vivos
[She said: I am she who, roused by the love of Sophia, imagined scholarly books in my virginal breast. As such and so as to not be stripped of such great love in the grave, I transform into a volume more useful still to the living].
Ejemplar signifies exemplary when used as an adjective, while as a noun it stands for “copy,” as in a copy of a publication. Can Sor Juana thus be the true exemplar, or ejemplar—at once a model of imitation and a book or volume? By concluding the Fama with Santiago de Barrales’s poem, editor Castorena brings his volume full circle. His cherubs of the engraved frontispiece—the Mexican and Spanish contributors to the volume—have imitated the allegorical Book of Fame by trumpeting and crowning Sor Juana’s fame and, at the same time, the nun-writer has literally become his Fama. Or so he would have us believe.
The nun’s posthumous panegyrists attempt upon her death to redirect and refashion the singularity that fueled her celebrity during her lifetime into either the heroic stature of an iconic poet and muse or the moralizing publicity granted to the saintly. Both the pious portrayal of Sor Juana, inspired by her “conversion” and propagated originally, albeit problematically, by Diego Calleja, and her identity as an American treasure and cultural icon ideally would have rendered her an exemplar or model and facilitated her elegists’ goal of persevering her for posterity.
Abstract: This chapter describes the Fama’s contents, structure and organization. It also traces the designs of the volume’s editor; specifically, his actions in transforming manuscript into print in order to influence potentially powerful readers in his endeavor to recast Sor Juana’s lifetime celebrity into posthumous renown. In conjunction, the intricate frontispiece and lengthy prologue set up editor Juan Ignacio María de Castorena’s framing of the Fama for his contemporaries, highlighting its Baroque intricacies that both underscore and undermine preserving Sor Juana for posterity. The chapter also explores a private dialogue between Sor Juana and the editor of her Fama that, once published, renders public their ties to one another and her role as author, a recognizable albeit unlikely figure for a seventeenth-century woman.
Keywords: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz; Juan Ignacio María de Castorena; Fama y obras póstumas; fame; Hispanic Baroque; frontispiece
In romance #51, “En reconocimiento a las inimitables Plumas de Europa” [To the matchless pens of Europe], her poem left unfinished yet published in the Fama, Sor Juana asks “¿Tanto pudo la distancia / añadir a mi retrato?” (OC 1.158:78) [Has distance really the power / to magnify my likeness? (Juana Inés de la Cruz 1988, 103)]. Although the query regarding her ill-wrought renown was most likely intended for the panegyrists of the Segundo volumen (SV), the writer’s newly exaggerated “distance” in death nuances the meaning of the verses published within the Fama. As a posthumous volume, the Fama imbues the literary (and visual) retrato or likeness that Sor Juana alludes to in romance #51 with a significance it could not have had while she was alive. By presenting its reader with a portrait of Sor Juana as they open its pages, the 1700 edition of the Fama offers its first indications of how and why the posthumous volume hopes to preserve the memory of the Mexican nun (see fig. 1). Befitting its role as a frontispiece, the emblematic engraving introduces the volume’s themes and concerns and constitutes the reader’s first encounter with its considerable task of figuratively recreating and recasting Sor Juana posthumously.
The Fame of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz traces the meteoric trajectory of the Mexican Tenth Muse's renown and studies how her worldly celebrity was altered posthumously by elegists in her Fama y obras póstumas [Fame and Posthumous Works] of 1700. In this study of a polyphonic, transatlantic volume, the didactic framework of early modern fame is pushed to its limits as panegyrists inscribe the nun into an evolving world-view that could trade in the fictions of the saintly exemplar, the Tenth Muse or a New World treasure, but could not preserve a woman's renown on the grounds of authorship. Only by making her legible could she vie for the promise of posthumous fame. In flushing out the machinations of Sor Juana's role as agent of her own celebrity as well as the negotiations of her contemporaries, this book opens new lines of inquiry in the study of early modern fame and print culture and the role of writers, panegyrists and editors as cultural agents in the transatlantic literary relationship between Mexico and Spain.
Abstract: This chapter examines the conditions and qualities of Sor Juana that made her a celebrity in her time and warranted her posthumous fame in a transatlantic tribute published in Spain. Instead of the limits of existing models of renown transforming to accommodate a colonial woman author, she is reconciled into conventional notions of fame. The three fictions of Sor Juana that emerge most clearly in her posthumous tome are that of the saintly exemplar, the Tenth Muse of New Spain, and the New World marvel. All three help bridge the gap from celebrity to being worthy of enduring fame and can be traded in the male literary marketplace. Within the framework of Celebrity Studies, I examine both Sor Juana’s role as agent of her own celebrity and the negotiations of her panegyrists.
Keywords: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz; Fama y obras póstumas; posthumous fame; Celebrity Studies; Hispanic Baroque; seventeenth-century women writers
The third and final volume of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz’s works published in her time (if not her lifetime), appeared posthumously in Madrid in 1700. Organized and edited in New Spain and Old, the Fama y obras pósthumas [Fame and Posthumous Works] includes writing by Sor Juana (1648–1695), the cloistered Hieronymite nun known as New Spain’s “Tenth Muse,” dozens of elegies written upon her death by Spanish and Mexican peers and a voluminous paratext in the way of licenses, a frontispiece, a vita and two prologues. Alone in being the third volume of work published by a New World criolla nun in Spain, the complex baroque volume is also her fama póstuma, a tribute to her posthumous fame, written and printed at a time in which fame was off limits to women and literary posthumous fame (a male affair) did not assure glory. As Ann Rosalind Jones has shown, although the winged figure of allegorical Renaissance iconography that personified Fame was a woman, seventeenth-century women were excluded from her realm (1986, 74). And posthumous literary fame could not be uncoupled from the author’s moral exemplarity until well into the eighteenth century (Goodman 549).
Abstract: This chapter contemplates how the Fama y obras pósthumas honors Sor Juana’s enduring fame as Tenth Muse or exotic New World marvel. Sor Juana’s posthumous fame could be associated to her intellectual prowess if framed within the familiar discourse in which she is brokered as a New World “treasure,” a commodity caught up in the dynamics of male exchange. To make her intelligible to European readers, her Mexican panegyrists write her into the language of American abundance and debate whether her sexless soul, her manliness, or her otherworldliness was responsible for her surprising ingenio. Another transatlantic line of inquiry examines the role that the writer’s birth in Mexico plays in her European posthumous imaging as well as in her role as icon of New World culture.
Keywords: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz; Juan Ignacio Castorena de Ursúa; Creole patriotism; Fama y obras póstumas; American abundance; New World treasures
“Toda ventaja en el entender lo es en el ser.” [Any advantage in wisdom is also advantageous to the self].
— Baltasar Gracián, Realce I “Genio y ingenio [sic],” El discreto (1646)
“México [cría] hermosura peregrina, / Y altísimos ingenios de gran vuelo, / Por fuerza de astros o virtud divina.” [Mexico is blessed with rare beauty and great minds, be it thanks to the stars or Providence].
— Bernardo de Balbuena, La grandeza mexicana (1604)
The depletion of the silver and gold mines of the New World in the early seventeenth century coincided with two other significant changes in New Spain: the shift in emphasis from the conversion of the indigenous communities to the dissemination of charismatic Catholicism, and the growing importance granted to a distinctively Mexican cultural identity. It was notably as the precious metals of the colony became increasingly scarce that the religiosity of the inhabitants of the New World was bequeathed to Spain as a new form of tribute, literally a new kind of “gold.” No longer working primarily to evangelize the indigenous peoples, the clergy redefined their role by “emphasizing their traditional vocation as exemplars of Christian perfection and effective agents for the salvation of others, tasks to which attention was called by publicized miracles of holy persons drawn from the ranks of the orders and the convents” (DeStefano 1977, xi).
Abstract: This chapter reads the Fama y obras pósthumas within the seventeenth century’s attempts to create holy subjects for the purpose of edification, primarily through Father Calleja’s approbation, as well as posthumous elegies that rescript Sor Juana’s renewal of her vows, charity, devotional writings, teachings, and God-given grace as means for both warranting her renown as a saintly exemplar as well as championing her literary and intellectual fame. By considering Sor Juana’s life story and her writing over and against that of Mexican female penitents of the Counter-Reformation, comparisons with male saints and even imitatio Christi, or the paradox of the inimitable female exemplar, I examine how the volume’s collaborators chose to align Mexico’s rara avis to staunchly entrenched formulae to make her legible for her contemporaries, thereby increasing the promise of posthumous fame.
Keywords: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz; Diego Calleja; funeral sermons; seventeenth-century female penitents; vitae; exemplars
-¿Qué quieres que infiera, Sancho, de todo lo que has dicho?—dijo don Quijote. – Quiero decir—dijo Sancho—que nos demos a ser santos, y alcanzaremos más brevemente la buena fama que pretendemos.
[Don Quijote asked: what do you mean to imply by all that you have said, Sancho? – I mean—said Sancho—that we should devote ourselves to being saints in order to sooner achieve the fame that we desire].
— Don Quijote, II:8, 595.
“En el poema [funeral] se revela el mundo, creencias, costumbres, ideas de la época, condición social del poeta y del muerto, la concepción del mundo, de la vida y de la muerte; todos estos factores determinaran el signo que posee el morir de los otros” [revealed in a funerary poem are the world, beliefs, customs and ideas of the time, the social status of the poet and the deceased, their conception of the world, of life, and death; all of these factors determine the sign imbedded in the death of others]
— Eduardo Camacho (1969, 22).
The richly Baroque portrait, the editor’s contradictory prologue, and his meticulous structuring of the volume all underscore the complexity of the Fama’s task of both commemorating and materializing Sor Juana’s fame.
Abstract: This chapter examines Sor Juana’s textual responses to her public image, in which carefully construed formulations of self reveal her conflicting feelings about her fame and inform her posthumous depiction. The chapter opens with an examination of Sor Juana’s romance #37 to the Duchess de Aveyro, in order to explore her ideas on representation and the possibility of a reciprocal exchange among women. Next, I consider her daring comparison with the martyrdom of Christ in her Respuesta, followed by readings of décima #102 and sonnets #152 and #145, in which she works to destroy her public image. The chapter closes with the suggestion of another means of exchange—in the form of the Engimas ofrecidos a la Casa del Placer—that held the potential of fueling a woman writer’s renown outside the literary marketplace.
Keywords: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz; self-fashioning; Fama y obras póstumas; Respuesta a Sor Filotea de la Cruz; Engimas ofrecidos a la Casa del Placer; romance 37
¿Que las plumas con que escribo son las que al viento se baten, no menos para vivirme que para resucitarme?
— Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, romance #49 (OC 1.146:153–56) [That the very quills with which I write / are those that beat the wind, / as much to sustain me in this life / as to revive me again? (Juana Inés de la Cruz 1994a, 177)]
A laudatory romance written shortly before 1700 by the Spanish Count de Clavijo includes the following uncharacteristically trenchant and unaffected lines:
No muere quien así vive,
pues en respetos mentales
se ve en sus escritos toda
la realidad de su imagen.
[Those who live in this way do not die, since in intellectual respects, the entire reality of their image can be seen in their writing]. ()
Like many of his counterparts of the Fama, the Count de Clavijo trusts that Sor Juana’s published works will grant her eternal renown. While the general sentiment expressed in the Count’s romance resonates throughout the posthumous volume, the passage cited reveals an original and suggestive interpretation of the role of Sor Juana’s writings in the cultivation of her posthumous fame.
In 1998 Valdemiro Santiago de Oliveira founded the Igreja Mundial do Poder de Deus or Worldwide Church of God's Power (hereafter wcgp) and has been its leader ever since. The goal of this study is to foreground the “medieval” elements found in his religious discourse. I aim to show how his book O grande livramento (hereafter referred to as The Great Deliverance) uses discursive features commonly found in medieval hagiographies to promote the sacralization of his image and, consequently, develops his own hagiography. The issue goes beyond the use of the Middle Ages as a pretext to discuss topics from the present. The production and circulation of a religious discourse that harks back to early Christianity can have a symbolic effect in a country with deep Catholic influences like Brazil.
The WCGP is a Neopentecostal church that uses hagiographical discourse drawn from the Middle Ages as a way to sacralize its leader. Here, our focus is not on intentionality but rather on the hypothesis that in a culture such as Brazil's that is marked by Christianity the use of a rhetorical strategy based on a medieval-inspired narrative confers legitimacy on those who construct such narratives. Therefore, our theoretical approach employs neomedievalism, defined as the appropriation and reception of the Middle Ages. According to Francis Gentry and Ulrich Müller, one of the four distinct models of medieval reception is precisely the “political-ideological reception of the Middle Ages” which means that “medieval works, themes, ‘ideas’ or persons are used and ‘reworked’ for political purposes in the broadest sense, i.e., for legitimization or for debunking.”
In this study, our primary focus will be the medievalizing political and ideological appropriation used by Santiago de Oliveira to legitimate his image in The Great Deliverance. Valdemiro presents himself as a man who was persecuted and became a “martyr”— like the early Christians—thriving both religiously and financially due to his privileged relationship with the sacred. Valdemiro, after all, succeeded in becoming an “Apostle” of his church and according to Forbes Magazine in 2013 was considered the second wealthiest religious leader in Brazil with an estimated net worth at US$220 million.
A Brief Overview of Valdemiro and the WCGP
Although some facts about Valdemiro can be found on the official website of his church, and he has published several books, not much information can be found about his life.
Kennings fascinated Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986), both attracting and repelling him. Often described as a figurative circumlocution or a double metaphor in Germanic poetry (most commonly in Old Norse but also in Old English), the kenning is a highly stylized and artificial compound noun. Borges found kennings sufficiently intriguing in his early days as a creative thinker that he wrote and published a significant analysis of them. In that study, he placed them in the context of Old Norse and Old English poetry, but also brought to bear the Spanish poetic movements known as gongorismo or culteranismo (the rococo and aureate stylings of the Baroque period) and the modernism called ultraísmo, which had greatly appealed to the young Borges when he briefly lived in Madrid with his family. He reused the material from this piece repeatedly throughout his life, and developed it further in several projects. Borges cared deeply about kennings, and gave examples of them frequently in talks and conversations, demonstrating his knowledge and his liking for this stylistic quirk of early Germanic literatures. He put them in his poetry, as best he could. At the same time, Borges's attitude to the kenning was remarkably contradictory. He describes the usage in one interview as “rather a weariness of the flesh to the poets themselves–at least to the Old English poets.” Old Norse poets, he implies, seemed to enjoy them more and certainly used them more. However, he also cites their “poignant quality,” and states they are “the first deliberate verbal delight of a literature governed by instinct.” His choice of goce here, which I have translated as “delight,” may be an example of deliberate borgesian double meaning; goce can also be “choice, preference, taste.” Kennings might be a delight, but they might also simply be a preference of the poet. Borges might just as easily be suggesting here that kennings were the first step away from a literature of instinct and towards a literature of artifice, or stylistic excess, rather than that they were a new elegance in the literature. Since he places kennings in the context of Spanish literary periods of excess and great artifice, his implication might be that kennings are a sign of excess in an otherwise fascinating poetic oeuvre. Or not.
In 1965, the Argentinian writer Manuel Mujica Lainez (1910–1984) published El unicornio (The Unicorn; though translated as The Wandering Unicorn), a historical novel presenting a romanticized and idealized vision of the Middle Ages. The Unicorn is structured in nine chapters that include several narrative episodes. The first chapter begins with a short prologue presenting the medieval legend of the fairy Melusine, who falls in love with a mortal, Raymond, and abandons the faerie world to live with him. Even though she asks him to avoid looking at her while she takes her Saturday baths, he spies on her and discovers her transformation into a partially ophidian body. The discovery ends in the escape of Melusine, who will return only sporadically to their castle and their children. The remaining chapters of the novel are dedicated to Melusine's love and travels with the knight Aiol in search for the Holy Lance, a narrative that was entirely created by Mujica Lainez utilizing medieval elements and research.
In the novel, the fairy Melusine is a first-person narrator who tells the story of an event in her life that took place towards the end of the twelfth century. This story that Melusine recalls occurs between 1174 and 1187; therefore the context is the prelude to the third Crusade, and the action takes place in two main sites, France and the Holy Land. Her speech is like a memory or an autobiography: “In the year I’m talking about, 1174,” she says in the first chapter; “at the board of the Leper-King, on that October evening of 1177,” she specifies in the sixth one. Several details interspersed through the novel also place us in a context close to the publication of the book, during the 1960s. Here are just two illustrative examples: “It was the dawn of literature, and a glance will confirm that most heroes and heroines were of royal birth…See Proust— he makes this very plain”; and “[w]e were in the Middle Ages, and prodigies seemed blessedly natural then, as natural as going to the moon does now.” The fairy's quality of immortality and her role as narrator allow Mujica Lainez to advance a series of critical reflections about the society of his time, the sixties of the twentieth century (or, more generally, modernity), as well as some metanarrative comments.