Segvndo volvmen de las obras de Soror Jvana Ines de la Cruz (Second volume of the works of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz)
Anna Deavere Smith: Juana Ramírez de Asbaje was born in the Mexican village of San Miguel Nepantla around 1650. By eight, she was composing liturgical poetry. As a young teenager, she mastered Greek logic and wrote original compositions in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs.
But Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, as she became known, was not merely a child prodigy. Paloma Celis Carbajal, Curator for Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Collections:
Paloma Celis Carbajal: She is one of the most important figures of the Spanish Baroque period, and the literature that was created in the New Spain.
Her entire life and work revolved around her love for knowledge.
Anna Deavere Smith: This rare first edition of Sor Juana’s Segundo Volumen, published in 1692, preserves some of her most important poetry, essays, and dramatic works. It includes her philosophical and poetic masterpiece, Primero Sueño, or First Dream.
Paloma Celis Carbajal: It's a fascinating, long silva that is using the image of night sleep and the journey that we all take, when we sleep, where we are liberating ourselves of physical matters to finally get to liberate the mind and be able to roam freely and seek that higher knowledge. All this through impressive poetic forms.
Actor: "...consiguió al fin / la vista del ocaso / el fugitivo paso / y en su mismo despeño recobrada / esforzando el aliento en la ruina, / en la mitad del globo que ha dejado / el sol desamparada..."
Paloma Celis Carbajal: That last part, where she's describing the dawn and how light prevails over darkness, is always so important. And I think it's one of those things that rings so deeply with us right now: how no matter what, light will always come back, even in the darkest moment. And of course what she's referring with light is knowledge and science.
Actor: "...quedando a la luz más cierta / el mundo iluminado, y yo despierta..."
End of Transcript
Paloma Celis Carbajal is Curator for Latin American, Iberian, and U.S. Latino Collections at The New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. Recording of ‘Primero Sueño’ courtesy of Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes.
No copyright: United States