A Bio-Bibliography of Eighteenth-Century Religious Women in England and Spain
|Author: ||Álvarez Faedo, María José|
This is a reference work which rescues from oblivion the names and literary production of women who, far from belonging to what is generally considered as the canon, emerged either from the spiritual solitude of Spanish Catholic nuns’ cells or from the religious meetings, evangelizing travels or austere lives of Anglicans, Protestants, Quakers, Wesleyans, Baptists or Dissenting Presbyterians. This book offers a different insight into the works of those religious women from that of the women-writer guides and dictionaries published so far. In this sense, rather than discussing authors alphabetically, in terms of their biographies, this work is structured in four sections which correspond to four inclusive literary genres – prose, poetry, drama and translation. Each of those sections is, in its turn, subdivided into different subgenres.
“Religion (staunch Catholicism) and the conservative ideology permeating the Spanish country hindered the entrance of an enlightened thought in simultaneity … England and France. These factors contribute to explaining the rather small corpus of literary works (specially written by women) published in Spain in the 18th century. Scholars have brilliantly studied this scarce corpus in excellent works. Still, given that scarcity of primary sources, most academic work has focused on the study of outstanding figures, and much is yet to be done as regards the archaeological task of bringing to light long forgotten works, which have nevertheless humbly contributed, their own way, to the glory of those literary figures and genres which nowadays hold an important place in literary history.
Being the 18th century the age in which women could finally live by the pen and publish their works with more impunity, there has remained for scholars the important role of bringing to the surface the amount of rather unknown writers whose books have nervertheless been the seed on which renowned works would find root and grow. Literary archaeology is then a common factor in scholars who deal with the literature written by women in the 18th century. That common factor provides an expected ground for comparative studies, specially among the countries above mentioned (England, France, Spain), for reasons of geographical, historical and cultural proximity already commented upon.
It is in this comparative field where Álvarez Faedo’s work constitutes an invaluable contribution. Most comparative studies, having Spain as basis, have rather focused their comparison on Spain and France, since it has traditionally been French the foreign language to be taught and studied in Europe. Most foreign works were then read in Spain through French translations. But the corpus of comparative works focusing on Spain and England are scarcer in number. For this reason, Álvarez Faedo’s book provides a unique insight into a field maybe not originally expected as object of comparison –that of religious writings by women– given, in the first place, the different Christian beliefs in both countries. In the second place, religious women in Spain wrote mainly from the convent, secluded in their cells, seeking to eulogize God in its glory.
Having very appropriately incorporated the reputed studies carried about by renowned scholars on the 18th century in England and Spain, Álvarez Faedo, true to the archaeological spirit which permeates most 18th-century studies, has provided us with new bibliographical sources, found in convents, archives, papers whose valuable contents had not yet been put to use in the comparative field. Álvarez Faedo’s brilliant study provides us with a unique and priceless insight which will take the reader deeper and further in the knowledge of the 18th century, where we still need to dig out in search of data which will help us understand our contemporary world and the role played by women in an age, ours, whose modernity already began in the 18th century.” – (from the Commendatory Preface) Professor Isabel García Martínez, University of Oviedo
“…I have read the manuscript and I must say that this guide to the work of religious women is a significant contribution to the field in that it enables the modern reader to glimpse beyond the bars of the cloisters of those female authors whose writings – ranging from intimate biographies and diverse types of other prose works to poetic compositions of very different metres and elaborate translations – prove invaluable witnesses of their times. This excellent guide includes both canonical and non-canonical writers, since, dealing with religious women in England and Spain, it includes the well-known authoresses and also those who were not known at all either Anglican (High Church), Catholic (Discalced Carmelites, Dominicans, Capuchins, Agustinians, Cistercians, Franciscans, Trinitarians, Benedictines or nuns of the Order of St. Clare) or Protestant (Baptists, Dissenting Presbyterians, Quakers or Wesleyans). … In short, I consider this book as highly recommendable. I have congratulated Dr. Alvarez Faedo for its completion, and now I must congratulate you for publishing it.” – Dr. Javier Garcia Rodriguez, Lecturer in Literary Theory and Comparative Literature, University of Valladolid, Spain
"This is an annotated bibliography which will be quite valuable for scholars interest in discovering the lives of both Catholic and Protestant women during this period. Since the nun is so frequently a figure of horror (and horrified fascination) in the Gothic fictions of the period, insights into different, and historically accurate, portraits of devoted religious women are particularly significant. Alvarez Faedo shows that though these women wrote in a remarkable variety of prose and verse genre, all of them wrote out of devotion to their religious principles in often troubling circumstances.” – Ann Williams, Professor of English, University of Georgia
Table of Contents
List of Abbreviations
Appendix: Types of Poems
Index of Religious Women Writers