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Profile of Women's Autobiography In Mxico

Author(s): Richard D. Woods

Source: Letras Femeninas, Vol. 20, No. 1/2 (PRIMAVERA-OTOO 1994), pp. 9-22
Published by: Asociacion Internacional de Literatura y Cultura Femenina Hispanica
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23022631
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Profile of Women's Autobiography
In Mexico

Richard D. Woods
Trinity University

In 1690 Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz attacked the archbishop of Puebl

in her "La respuesta." Noted for its brilliant defense of the rights of
women for education and culture, this document serves doubly as the
most (auto)biographical source extant on the seventeenth-century ge
nius. In the three hundred years since Sor Juana expressed her outrage
women in Spanish America have made advances in education and
culture, but unfortunately not many in finding themselves through
lifewriting. This paper is an effort to look at the accomplishments of
women in lifewriting in Mexico.
The topic is autobiography, i.e., a life of the self written by the self
and although this definition may seem redundantly obvious, a type of
collaborative testimony realizing the other through the interference of a
second party appeared in 1936. Another limitation is that the studied
document must be of monographic length or at least fifty pages. Al
though Sor Juana would be ignored because of this stricture, it is
necessary to exclude the very brief autobiographical essays that surely
do not constitute a book. Finally, the women must be Mexican by birth.
The criterion excludes the autobiographical writings of several foreign
ers such as Fanny Calderon de la Barca, Edith O'Shaughnessy and
Princess Salm-Salm.
The search for female autobiographers, or any other type of Mexican
autobiographer has been time consuming. This genre, neglected in the
entire Hispanic world, has been treated no differently in Mexico. The
scholar in pursuit of other genres such as the novel, the short story,
drama orpoetry has fields well established with accompanying reference
books. Unfortunately, autobiography until very recently enjoyed no

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10 Letras Femeninas, Vol. XX, Nos. 1-2 (1994)

such tradition. Not only has autobiography been neglected, but its
unrecognized forms have carried mislabels such as relatos, cronicas,
viajes, narraciones, prosa, novela and testimonio. Ironically the most
attention for Mexican autobiography has come through the studies of
foreigners interested in Mexico. Although scholars in the United States
in the past ten years have been researching women in Mexico, little in the
way of autobiography has been noted in reference books.
From 1983 to 1990, four bibliographies on women writers registered
their arrival, but even these references by scholars from a culture rich in
autobiography failed to note its counterpart in Mexico. Cortina notes six
autobiographers; Marting in 1987 in the most voluminous reference ever
done on Spanish American women includes thirteen autobiographies in
Mexico, but does not label them as such. In other words she and her co
compilers, dependent upon native works already listed, did not make
autobiography a separate genre. Donna J. Guy, who edited the section on
biography in K. Lynn S toner's Latinas of the Americas (1989), interprets
this neglect as a consequence of a preference for social history and
statistical methodology. Finally, Marting again in 1990 edited Spanish
American Women Writers that included only three Mexican autobiogra
phers, Nellie Campobello, Sor Juana and Elena Poniatowska.
In brief, female autobiographers in Mexico have suffered a triple
neglect: as women, as writers of a type of literature without tradition in
their culture, and finally as the focus of foreign scholars seconding the
indifference of Mexican bibliographers and historians of literature.
Women's autobiography can be placed within the context of Mexican
lifewriting. Naturally each author merits an individual study and analy
sis to determine feminist content. However, at this moment an earlier
step is necessarya perusal of women's autobiographies from the point
of view of year published, decade of birth of the author, historical period
covered, genre (form used to express one's own life), profession of
writer and finally a comparison between male and female male autobi
ography in Mexico.
In spite of the early appearance of Sor Juana's letter, a signal to her
sex that they could also write their life stories, women's autobiography
arrived late in Mexico. Although much work is as yet unlocated, the first
life writing dates from 1919 with a somewhat innocuous title in English,
When I Was a Girl in Mexico by Mercedes Godoy. Unheralded and
unnoticed even today, this is the tale of the easy and pleasant life of a
daughter of a Mexican diplomat. No titles for the decade 1920 to 1929
indicate that women are aware of lifewriting as a possible venue for
identification. Again the disclaimer might be that women have always
written, but have not always published. More manuscripts might be

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Woods 11

found of diaries or collected letters and with time and the erosion of the
necessity to protect the family, some of these works could reach the
The decade of the 1930s, the golden age of Mexican autobiography,
marked the arrival of some feminine voices. And what else could be
possible in this rich decade full of ferment and latent energy from a
Revolution now in an evolved stage. The writings of Jose Vasconcelos,
Jose Ruben Romero, the belated publication of the memoirs of the
nineteenth-century Bernal Diaz del Castillo, Jose Montesinos, all em
phasize the thirties achievement in Mexican autobiography. The decade
witnessed several recordable autobiographies of women. Nellie
Campobello, the main one naturally, in 1931 published her famous
Cartuchos; six years later, 1937, Las manos de mi mama, a classic of
Mexican literature of the Revolution could also be categorized as auto
biography. Two other women merit notice here. The poet Maria Enriqueta
Camarillo shared her life in Europe with her fellow Mexicans in Del tapiz
de mi vida (1932). Not well known today, her life writings are some of
the better among women of Mexico. Then in 1936 a North American
anthropologist Ruth Underhill completed one of the first collaborative
autobiographies done in Mexico. Her Autobiography of a Papago Woman,
a joint work in which the contributions of editor and subject blur,
probably anticipated the Oscar Lewis series on the culture of poverty in
the 1950s and 1960s.
The forties, a lessening both in quantity and in quality, produced
four published works meriting no attention today and probably unn
ticed at their moment of birth. However, the following decade has nin
autobiographies with several worthy of consideration. As is norm
professional writers will do a better job of self creation than the no
writers. Guadalupe Amor, the poet, in 1957 published Yo soy mi casa
which interests because of its hybrid nature, autobiography and ima
nation. Surely the first person narrator, also named Pita, reflects the l
of the author, a woman from an upper class Mexican family with th
normal experiences of girlhood: religion, family relationships and su
roundings. Numerous details and the total recall of conversation, tec
niques more common to the novel than to the life story, remove this from
standard autobiography. Another writer, Judith Martinez Ortega in 19
followed naturalism in La isla y tres cuentos describing a penal colon
where she was the secretary of General Francisco J. Mujica.
The 1960s registers three notable autobiographies that reinitiate th
subgenre begun in the 1930s by Underhill. The oral autobiograph
testimony, as-told-to-another or interview lend their characteristics f
woman-to-woman collaborative projects.

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12 Letras Femeninas, Vol. XX, Nos. 1-2 (1994)

Probably the least known is Delfina Cuero's The Autobiography of

Delfina Cuero, a Diegueno Indian as Told to Florence Shipek. Again as
in the Underhill work, the focus is on culture more than personality. With
the Cuban Revolution almost ten years old, Aida Garcia Alonso created
a life in the award winning Manuela, la mexicana. An uneducated
woman from Tabasco, Manuela emigrates to Cuba and successfully fills
many roles during her life: servant, cook, suffragette, street vender and
nurse. Yet the most notable achievement for women in Mexican autobi
ography in this decade is Elena Poniatowska's Hasta no verte, Jesus mio
(1969). Labeled a novel and reasonably so because Poniatowska admits
her creativity with Jesusa's life, Hasta no verte nonetheless encom
passes a strong self reliant Mexican woman of the proletariat. Her
capacity for survival and her honesty make Jesusa a heroine.
The 1970s registers a continuance of the oral autobiography, a form
incidentally popular with women. Luz Jimenez' De Porfirio Diaz hasta
Zapata and Jane Holden Kelley's Yaqui Women attest to the vigor of this
as-told-to-another, i.e., the literate outsider/anthropologist armed with
tape recorder and notebook extracts the story of the other, always an
impoverished individual who possibly knows no Spanish, only an Indian
language. Kelley as a North America is dually the outsider; the Mexican
Fernando Horcasitas as translator and editor of this Nahuatl document
De Porfirio at least belonged to the national culture.
One of the key works of women's autobiography of Mexico is that
of the poet Concha Urquiza. Although published in 1977 the work was
obviously of much earlier vintage given the life dates of its author (1910
1945). A mystic, Urquiza led a troubled existence due to the conflict
between what she perceived to be God's expectation and her inability to
measure up to it. Within the tradition of Spanish mysticism, Urquiza
biographizes a soul passionately in love with the Creator yet always
unworthy of Him. Obras has two sections of her autobiographical
writings: "Paginas epistolares" and "Paginas del diario." The former
occasionally treats mundane matters; the latter, in a clearer prose style,
distills more of her religious feelings. Again in 1979 Poniatowska
produced an oral autobiography with Gaby Brimmer the co-author/
creator of the eponymous work. By contrast to these Mexicans who tell
the somewhat predictable in their life writings, Irma Salinas Rocha must
have scandalized Mexico with Tal cual: vida, amores, cadenas. Daugh
ter of wealth in Monterrey, Protestant and U.S. educated, she is a
maverick. In memoirs and letters she confesses her love for three men,
her husband, a Baptist minister and a lawyer. Articulate, frank and
outrageous, Salinas Rocha combines Celestina and Molly Bloom.

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Woods 13

In 1980 Concepcion Lombardo de Miramon's Memorias first ap

peared. Posthumously published these memoirs for a woman are perhaps
the best of the nineteenth century. Wife of Miguel Miramon, military,
president of Mexico, conservative and supporter of Maximilian,
Lombardo de Miramon portrays her life with him. Without the insights
of Frances Calderon de la Barca, Miramon's memoirs mainly have
costumbristic value. Two other women reveal their lives to a reading
public in this decade. The novelist Margo Glantz in Las genealogias
incorporates her Jewish family from nineteenth century Russia to the
contemporary period. As a biography of her parents and an autobiogra
phy of her own cultural life, the memoirs possess a peculiar value. Her
writings detail an answer to the query of the influence of cultural life on
an individual. Alicia Echeverria arrived on the scene of lifewriting in
1986 with her De burguesa a guerrillera. For her effort to recall an entire
life, De burguesa belongs to the category of autobiography proper; for
her independence and her portrayal of female relationships, Echeverria
will be accorded more attention. Of late appearance, Adela Palacios's
Los palacios de Adela (1988) is the most blatantly feminist of any of the
authors. Novelist, poet and widow of Samuel Ramos, Palacios focuses on
her bourgeois parents and the restrictions of her Mexican environment.
She of all of the Mexican autobiographers notes with humor the condi
tion of the female within her own culture.
Poniatowska makes an entrance for the third time in the field of
autobiography. This time she solos in La "Flor de lis" (1990), a novel
that closely parallels her own life. Her discontent with her sheltered
background (her only contact with the lower classes was through a
servant) becomes evident here. These four authors, Poniatowska,
Echeverria, Palacios and Salinas Rocha finally reflect influences of the
feminist movement. Perhaps their writings will prelude more books of
this nature. The only other worthy note of the 1990s is the inauguration
of a series of autobiographies sponsored by the National University of
Mexico. So far Ediciones Corunda has commissioned twenty-two auto
biographies (six on women) and has more projected.
Other indicators of time in addition to year of publication are the
decades under focus in works by women and also the decades of their
births. Unsurprisingly given the almost total absence of women life
writers in the nineteenth century, very few focus on this period in their
autobiographies. In fact only eleven or nineteen percent of the total
number were born in that century. The few other references to this basic
period of the Porfiriato are referential to locate the birthplace of a parent
be it Mexico or some other country.

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14 Letras Femeninas, Vol. XX, Nos. 1-2 (1994)

Only with the twentieth century are events contemporaneously

focused. And naturally the most popular period of the early decades is
1910 to 1919, the violent years of the Revolution. Yet the two following
decades, 1920 to 1929 and 1930 to 1939 reflect a comparable amount of
interest. So far the two decades of least interest are the 1950s and 1960s.
Until more writers mature and record their experiences, the seventies
and eighties will also be neglected. Over half of the women writers were
born in the years between 1 890 and 1919, twenty of the Porfiriato and the
major decade of the Revolution. Either witnessing the Revolution or
absorbing it as a part of the oral histories of their families, three women
had the urge to write.
The statistics of birth by decade(s), although they do not emphasize
the period 1890 to 1919, may also suggest the need for distancing the self
from events before writing about them. Thus in another twenty years
more women born between 1920 and 1949 will be writing their autobi
The (sub)genres of the autobiography seems to follow no date. That
is with rare cases certain forms persist as vehicles for life writing.
Autobiography proper or the attempt to recall an entire life from the
vantage of age has few users. Perhaps because of the Mexican need for
privacy and the difficulty of reconstructing the painful earlier years of
one's life, this inclusive form finds few cultivators. Women do not vary
because they prefer the more complete autobiography only five percent
of the time. Usually the writer at an advanced age will attempt to
recapture her entire life, a difficult undertaking. Four autobiographies,
Concha Alvarez's A si paso mi vida, Maria San Joseph's Becoming a Nun,
Celia Trevino Carranza's Mi atormentada vida and Alicia Echeverria's
De burguesa a guerrillera prove the scarcity of this form. Likewise the
autobiographical novel is rarely practiced among women and also has
only three examples.
Although letters comprise much of North American autobiography,
they have not had a similar popularity in Mexico. Bookshelves in the
United States, overpopulated with the collected letters of many famous
individuals, differentiate Americans from Mexicans. Why this phenom
enon is not present in Mexico and perhaps in other Spanish-speaking
countries is speculative. Surely Spanish Americans avail themselves of
this form as much as other cultures. The problem then must be one of
privacy. Perhaps personal archives zealously guarded by the descen
dants of the famous cache letters meant to be secret. Again privacy
prevails over notoriety. Letters, of course, must be defined as missives
in which the writer reveals her personality and perhaps sustains a long
and intimate dialogue with a confidante. One example of letters among

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Woods 15

Mexicans, the fifty-year correspondence between Alfonso Reyes and

Pedro Henriquez Urena, is unrivaled by females. Often the letters of
politicians will be so guarded, so matter of fact that their dullness
inhibits reading except by avid scholars of a certain period.
All three collections of letters by women in Mexico are of recent
vintage, 1981-1987. Probably the best collection to date, 87 cartas de
amor y otros papeles by Antonieta Rivas Mercado the patroness of
Mexican art, evidence a highly literate and sensitive Mexican woman
totally devoted to her artist lover, Manuel Rodriguez Lozano. In New
York City she moved with Mexico's intellectual expatriates and in Paris
she committed suicide in Notre Dame Cathedral in 1931. Her diary
published in Obras completas continues the same sensitivity and expo
sure of emotions. In 1982 Gaby Brimmer, with cerebral palsy since birth,
made public the letters to Elena Poniatowksa, her family and friends. As
an intimate of the journalist, Brimmer reveals more of herself surviving
and achieving in spite of her severe physical handicap. Frankness about
family relationships, excitement over an adopted daughter, and frequent
comments about world events or the human condition comprise the other
themes here. The collected letters of Margarita Valladares de Orozco,
widow of the famous painter, perhaps exemplify autobiography of
women married to great men. Her letters, comprising the initial portion
of Orozco's Cartas a Margarita (1987), relate family background, her
first meeting with Orozco and his presence or absence from 1915-1969.
They prelude his greatness.
The diary can be defined as a letter to oneself. And this form, like the
letter, manifests little popularity among Mexican women. Yet two
superb examples exist. One by Rivas Mercado shows the same honesty
of emotion as in her letters. The other by the Mexican nun/mystic Concha
Urquiza achieves both autobiography and literary content.
The oral autobiography mentioned earlier normally takes two types
of relationships: a total outsider, e.g., a North American anthropologist
and an illiterate but interesting Indian or an interviewer and her intellec
tual equal. Note the collaborative autobiographies of celebrities Diego
Rivera, Ines Amor, Jose Luis Cuevas, and Irma Serrano.1 These lionized
Mexicans well known and with an eager and curious public need no
background material. The more challenging scenario, however, has a
foreigner who selects a subject, formulates questions, elicits answers,
tapes, and then re-creates her subject's entire life according to Western
expectations of human experience. For example, if the subject repeats
herself frequently, she may reflect a cultural norm. This type of redun
dancy, unencouraged in contemporary writing, must be excised from the
manuscript. To create one's own life is a challenge; to create the life of

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16 Letras Femeninas, Vol. XX, Nos. 1-2 (1994)

another is usurpation. Although starting in 1936 with Underbill's Auto

biography, the form survives today with more examples. Popular among
women, for six served as subjects for these autobiographies and four
women edited the final work.

The memoirs with thirty-four examples among women or fifty-seven

percent of the total overwhelm in Mexico. The author looks only at the
significant years of her life recording them for posterity.2 She leaps from
birth, childhood and adolescence into full blown career. To retrieve that
portion of her life that may have interest concerns the writer, not the
creation of an entire life which is the domain of autobiography proper.
The memoir is a metaphor of the individual who is saying "I have lived."
Popular among politicians, in fact mandatory in defense of their actions,
the memoir no less has attracted women. In this form the narrator has a
choice of four stances: observer, participant, observer/participant or
histor.* The observer records what is going on around her. She is within
in history and reporting what she observed either at the time as in a
journal or from the perspective of years. She could well be a participant
in the events. Finally, she may usurp the role of the historian by
becoming a histor, or one who describes events not observed and
attempts to asses them without the distancing of time. Memoirs persist
in any year from 1919 with Mercedes Godoy's Mercedes When I Was a
Girl in Mexico to today. Although they do not always have the dramatic
form that they may for a man as a participant in one of the battles of the
Mexican Revolution, the basic outlines are followed. The memoir simul
taneously allows recognition and privacy. Its author may well give more
of history than of the self. Campobello's Cartuchos and Las manos de mi
mama fall into this category. Two women autobiographers deserve
mention here for their memoirs. One is the aforementioned Concepcion
Lombardo de Miramon and the other, Rosaura Revueltas who attempts
along with her own life to record those of her famous brothers in Los
Revueltas. Glantz's Las genealoglas ultimately can be labeled a memoir
for their external view, parents and grandparents overshadow the narrat
ing individual.
These forms make up women's autobiography in Mexico, and the
only others, generally hybrids, fall into a miscellaneous grouping:
meditations, chronicle, diary/autobiography, memoirs/letters, chronicle/
testimony/approximation. Comprising five percent of the total, these
collective hybrids appear to be self explanatory. The autobiographical
essay with five examples is somewhat artificial in that the writers,
commissioned by the editors of Ediciones Corunda, create according to
pre-established dictates.

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Woods 17

As may be suspected, few of the women authors belonged to a

profession even though some may have enjoyed several such as Eulalia
Guzman, both teacher and archeologist. Yet of the fifty-nine women,
twenty could be called writers/journalists. The inference that either
other professions remain closed to women or that women in other
professions do not indulge in self examination, at least in writing, seems
substantial. Some of them as writers are famous today in Mexico: Nellie
Campobello, Margo Glantz, Adela Palacios, Gaby Brimmer, and Elena
Poniatowska. Their autobiographies could have brought them fame as
writers as in the case of Nellie Campobello (Cartuchos and Las manos de
mi mama). However, the others all established themselves because of
other genres.4 Writing as a profession claims as many of the women; in
fact other callings register only a token representation: artist, mystic,
politician (communist), archeologist, actress, musician, or teacher.
A category labeled simply "no profession" includes the largest
number of Mexican women autobiographers. This catch-all classifica
tion, intended to incorporate all lifewriters not earning a living through
some identifiable type of profession, totals twenty-four women, or
almost half of the autobiographers. No single social class is absent in this
rather anonymous designation. For example, two of them, members of
the Porfirian aristocracy, look fondly upon this lost era. Sara Aguilar
Belden de Garza in Una ciudady dos familias evokes a happy Mexico of
the dictatorship and her memoirs tend more to costumbrismo than to
character study as is the case also of Maria Prado Vertiz de Lezama in Los
anos azules. Irma Salinas Rocha, the rich Regiomontana, in Tal cual:
vida, amores, cadenas exemplifies an anti-establishment memoir.
More proletarian accounts for non-professionals occur in the as
told-to-another genre. Manuela Azcanio Alias, recreated by Aida Garcia
Alonso in Manuela la mexicana incarnates the vigor of woman from the
lower classes. The same is true of the Indian testimonies created for us

through the intervention of anthropologists: The Autobiography ofDelfina

Cuero, a Dieguefio Indian, as Told to Florence C. Shipek, Luz Jimenez's
De Porfirio Diaz a Zapata and Ruth Underbill's The Autobiography o
a Papago Woman.
Several more examples suffice. Three women produced autobiogra
phies because of important men in their lives. Luz Corral de Villa'
Pancho Villa en la intimidad requires no explanation; Maria Toral de
Leon, mother of the assassin of the then president Alvaro Obregon, lend
her account of the tragedy in Memorias\ and Leticia Chavez's Recordando
a mi padre immortalizes the Mexican educator. Wife, mother, and
daughter have lives worthy of print because of males.

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18 Letras Femeninas, Vol. XX, Nos. 1-2 (1994)

Mexican women, if accurately portrayed in autobiography, still wait

to permeate the professions. Although writers/journalists find lifewriting
a vehicle for recording their existence, few other professions have
numerical weight. The non-professional category, attesting neither to
laziness nor lack of accomplishment, betrays a reality of many lives in
Mexico. Even outside of established professions, women display fasci
nating lives recorded in fascinating autobiographies. Even without
formal training, they can show great skills at survival.
All of these women comprise a part of a larger complexa male
world, and a glance at male autobiography illuminates the process of life
writing in women. First some significant differences: women publish
about twelve percent of the autobiographies in Mexico. Many more
males wrote in the nineteenth century. Perhaps it is redundant to note that
most males who write autobiographies have professions. As among
women, many men are writers. However, other professions with numer
ous examples of males are not as yet biographized in women's lifewritings:
businessman, diplomat, economist, engineer, hacendado, historian, law
yer, medical doctor, president and governor and all other varieties of
Yet there are some similarities. Memoir, the preferred form for
Mexican autobiography, predominates also among males. The only
difference from women is that males often burden their life stories with
documents unintegrated into the writing context of the work. Thus a
president, referring to a speech, incorporates the entire discourse into his
autobiography. Also female reminiscence or memoir seems not to bear
the burden of a type of justification. Politicians, who must defend their
regimes from accusers, gravitate naturally to the memoir. Not as yet
political, women have no need for this type of defense. Other subgenres
of autobiography, used equally by both, letters, diaries, autobiography
proper and the oral testimony, show no preference according to sex of

Since the Revolution catalyzes much of Mexican autobiography, it

is unsurprising that the decades of this upheaval prove to be the most
popular for focus within lifewriting. Both sexes prefer the 1900 to 1939
span of decades, exciting years in Mexico and natural fodder for the
memoir. One records for posterity the tumultuous moments that interrupt
one's life, and the Revolution proved an ideal foil for this.
Women's autobiography, though starting in 1690 with Sor Juana's
attack, suffered an extremely fallow period until 1919. The 1930s
produced Nellie Campobello and the first oral autobiography. Each
decade might show a slight increase numerically but Ediciones Corunda
in the 1990s stimulates more women's autobiography than any other

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Woods 19

factor within Mexican culture. Unlike men, few female autobiographers

were born in the nineteenth century. However, like men they prefer the
memoir/reminiscence, the middle of the life story that concentrates more
on others than on the self. Letters, diaries and autobiography proper
figure less frequently. Women rarely have professions except as writers.
In spite of neglect, being female and writing in an unrecognized
genre, some outstanding autobiographies would be accorded a place in
a canon of Mexican autobiography. Antonieta Rivas Mercado's 87
cartas', Elena Poniatowska for her collaborated work with Gaby Brimmer
and Jesusa Palancares (Hasta no verte, Jesus mto) and her own La "Flor
de lis"', Campobello's Cartucho and Las manos de mi mama; Urquiza's
mystical writing in letters and in diary; Lombardo de Miramon's Memorias
as unique for the nineteenth century; Adela Palacios in her hybrid Los
palacios de Adela and Alicia Echeverria's De burguesa a guerrilla. The
last two rupture the stereotype of the idealized Mexican family with
flawless parents. More than any other autobiographer, Echeverri'a fo
cuses on woman-to-woman relationships.
Women's autobiography in Mexico will increase. More women from
the professions, not just writers, will enrich the field. As autobiography
achieves genre identity, younger women in increasing numbers will
cultivate it both to express their lives and to find themselves. The
discovery of autobiography, not only for Mexico but for the rest of
Spanish America, creates a need for autobiography and paradoxically a
satisfaction of this need. Autobiography in Mexico, in spite of its
neglect, showcases lifewriting in the examples in the above paragraph.
May these works be seminal in stimulating more autobiography by
women to make gender expression more symmetrical and to balance the
already recognized genres of Mexico.


1 Luis Suarez. Confesiones de Diego Rivera. (Mexico: Editorial Grijal

1975); Alaide Foppa. Confesiones de Jose Luis Cuevas. (Mexico: Fondo
Cultura Economica, 1975); and Ines Amor. Una mujer en el arte mexic
memorias de lnes Amor/ Jorge Manrique, Teresa del Conde (Mexico: UNAM
2 Again I am indebted to Marcus Billson's "The Memoir: New Perspectiv
on a Forgotten Genre." "If the memoir's story concerns the author's parti
tion in life, then the memoir narrates the process of being-in-the-world rat
than becoming-in-the-world." 261. "Becoming-in-the-world" naturally ref
more to autobiography proper.

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Letras Femeninas, Vol. XX, Nos. 1-2 (1994)

3 According to Marcus Billson in "The Memoir: New Perspectives on a

Forgotten Genre," "the author adopts this stance whenever he tells what he has
overheard, read about, or accumulated by research through historical records . .
. . Whenever the narrative intention shifts noticeably toward providing
information or establishing facts, the histor is raising his head" 278-279.
4 I have already mentioned that Campobello's two works were mislabeled
as novels; Margo Glantz was known in Mexico before the publication of her Lai
genealogias; Adela Palacios published both short stories and poetry before her
autobiography; finally, Elena Poniatowska became famous with her report of
the 1968 massacre of the Mexican students, Noche de Tlateloco.


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