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The Holy Office of...
Hunger's Brides establishes the Inquisition as a spectre hovering
ever near, from the earliest days of Sor Juana's life until its last. It
emerges that Sor Juana's chapters are the telling of her life story in
response to and rebellion against a demand that she give a full accounting
of her every sin. There must be no gaps, her interrogator insists. But
her story is fashioned precisely here, in the gaps between the warp of
her sins and the weave of her destiny.
Margins" The first evidence pertinent to her case seems
innocent enough. The child prodigy who is Sor Juana at three frightens
a lay sister with the speed of her learning. We learn that in Nahuatl
one says -- after bearing witness to a virtuoso display of intelligence
-- "The sorcerer has passed there."
- "Abecedario" Near
the end of this chapter, the prodigy finally goes to school. She has
read over two hundred books, classics not children's primers. Trouble
eventually came, during a third week of ABCs. And now she has heard the
Inquisition mentioned by name.
- "Auto Tour" Juana's
aunt and niece take her over the route of the last great auto-de-fe in
New Spain - Mexico City, 1649. Over a hundred condemned, thirteen executed,
one burned alive. Based on the research of Solange Alberro in Inquisición
y Sociedad en México 1571-1700; and a wondrously detailed
chapter on that subject in José Toribio Medina’s Historia
de la Inquisición en Mexico.
- "Heretic's Song" A
sonnet composed in the Inquisition's secret prisons by the second last
of the Carvajal family to go to the stake in 17th-century Mexico City.