Hunger's Brides
Page Updated On: 04/16/2013

Caracol, the Hermitage



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 1695.

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.

Juana Caracol, the Hermitage

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: 

Oh, and we'll get you to those multimedia materials, too, though by a more roundabout route.

Juana Caracol

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.

Juana And 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.

Juana The Layout

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 Gate 

Locutorio - Parlour

Galería - Gallery

Teatro - Theatre

Coro - Choir

Archivo - Archives

Biblioteca - Library

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