The publication of this site is timed to coincide with the release of
the novel Hunger's Brides. Its central character
is a towering figure of 17th-century Mexico: Juana Inés
de la Cruz.
Proto-feminist and slave-owner, philosopher and musicologist, court favourite
and, eventually, nun, Sor Juana was also the last great poet of the Spanish
Empire. Arguably the world's greatest writer at the time of her death in
For more on Sor Juana.
For more on Hunger's Brides.
For what's new on the site, news on
the project, and special features.
The site is being built by your loyal
servants, working with the sorely limited participation of Paul Anderson,
the novel's shadowy author.
The purpose is two-fold:
- to provide a forum for questions and discussion of the novel, and
- to promote awareness of the work and life of
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.
Oh, and we'll get you to those multimedia materials, too, though by a
more roundabout route.
A word on the name for this site. Caracol is many things, one of these
being a lost musical treatise by Juana Inés de la Cruz.
Caracol is Spanish for the spiral shell we call conch. Caracol may refer
also to a spiral staircase, or even to the spirals of the inner ear.
The lost treatise becomes a small but integral part of the novel Hunger's
Brides. And providing glimpses of it seems to have become, for the
author, a form of reclamation project. We have an email from him somewhere
where he refers to it as a "conjectural reconstruction."
The structure of Sor Juana's musical treatise - Caracol -
seems to have been a series of poetic demonstrations for an audience, perhaps
much like you.
this Hermitage thing?
The 'hermitage' part is a gender-inclusive, non-denominational nod in
the direction of Sor Juana's convent, now a university bearing her name
in the wondrously chaotic heart of Mexico City. In due course we will invite
you to view some images of the
place, affectionately known as the "Claustro". But if you're
in a hurry, no need to wait.
A hermitage, or a convent, is not just a place of study or meditation
but a world, a living space with various practical functions and worldly
pre-occupations. In Sor Juana's day these spaces were arranged around a
series of patios. Here is a description of
the gran patio in the late 17th century, from Hunger's Brides.
Our own hermitage is laid out slightly differently. The main spaces
are as follows:
Porteria - Porter's
- an overview of the Hunger's Brides project, in the twelve years since
Locutorio - Parlour
- a place where news gets exchanged and discussions take place.
Galería - Gallery
- collections of still images from Mexico and Canada
Teatro - Theatre
- a viewing place for multimedia clips and video interviews
Coro - Choir
- a listening room for music, voice recordings and other audio files
Archivo - Archives
- for background information on the project, the novel's author, and
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
Biblioteca - Library
- excerpts from the novel, pointers to online resources, a partial list
of books rifled through in the research for Hunger's Brides.