Selected Prose and Prose-Poems

Selected Prose and Prose-Poems

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The first Latin American to receive a Nobel Prize for Literature, the Chilean writer Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957) is often characterized as a healing, maternal voice who spoke on behalf of women, indigenous peoples, the disenfranchised, children, and the rural poor. She is that political poet and more: a poet of philosophical meditation, self-consciousness, and daring. This is a book full of surprises and paradoxes. The complexity and structural boldness of these prose-poems, especially the female-erotic prose pieces of her first book, make them an important moment in the history of literary modernism in a tradition that runs from Baudelaire, the North American moderns, and the South American postmodernistas. It's a book that will be eye-opening and informative to the general reader as well as to students of gender studies, cultural studies, literary history, and poetry.

This Spanish-English bilingual volume gathers the most famous and representative prose writings of Gabriela Mistral, which have not been as readily available to English-only readers as her poetry. The pieces are grouped into four sections. "Fables, Elegies, and Things of the Earth" includes fifteen of Mistral's most accessible prose-poems. "Prose and Prose-Poems from Desolacion / Desolation [1922]" presents all the prose from Mistral's first important book. "Lyrical Biographies" are Mistral's poetic meditations on Saint Francis and Sor Juana de la Cruz. "Literary Essays, Journalism, 'Messages'" collects pieces that reveal Mistral's opinions on a wide range of subjects, including the practice of teaching; the writers Alfonso Reyes, Alfonsina Storni, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Pablo Neruda; Mistral's own writing practices; and her social beliefs. Editor/translator Stephen Tapscott rounds out the volume with a chronology of Mistral's life and a brief introduction to her career and prose.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 262 pages
  • 152 x 235 x 13mm | 708g
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • English, Spanish
  • 0292752660
  • 9780292752665
  • 1,154,972

Table of contents

Biographical Data
Principal Publications
I. Fables, Elegies, and Things of the Earth

El mar
The Sea
La cebra
The Zebra
El faisan dorado
The Golden Pheasant
La harina
Elogio de la sal
In Praise of Salt
El higo
The Fig
La pina
The Pineapple
La tortuga
The Tortoise
La jirafa
The Giraffe
La alpaca
The Alpaca
El girasol
The Sunflower
Elogio del cristal
In Praise of Glass
Elogio de la arena
In Praise of Sand
Segundo elogio de la arena
Second Praise-Song for the Sand

II. Prose and Prose-Poems from Desolacion/Desolation (1922)

La oracion de la maestra
The Teacher's Prayer
Los cabellos de los ninos
Children's Hair
Poemas de las madres
Poems of the Mothers

I. Poemas de las madres
I. Poems of the Mothers
II. Poemas de la madre mas triste
II. Poems of the Saddest Mother

Canciones de cuna
Motivos del barro
Motifs of Clay
La flor de cuatro petalos
The Four-Petaled Flower
Poemas del extasis
Poems of Ecstasy
El arte
Decalogo del artista
Decalogue of the Artist
Comentarios a poemas de Rabindranath Tagore
Commentary on Poems by Rabindranath Tagore
Lecturas espirituales
Spiritual Readings
Motivos de la Pasion
Motifs of the Passion
Poemas del hogar
Poems of the Home
Prosa escolar/Cuentos escolares
Scholarly Prose/Stories for Schools

Por que las canas son huecas
Why Bamboo Canes Are Hollow
Por que las rosas tienen espinas
Why Roses Have Thorns
La raiz del rosal
The Root of the Rosebush
El cardo
The Thistle
La charca
The Puddle

III. Lyrical Biographies

Canto a San Francisco
Song to Saint Francis
Silueta de Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz
Profile of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz

IV. Literary Essays, Journalism, "Messages"

Decir el sueno
To Declare the Dream
Pensamientos pedagogicos
Thoughts on Teaching
Silueta de la india mexicana
Profile of the Mexican Indian Woman
Un hombre de Mexico: Alfonso Reyes
A Man of Mexico: Alfonso Reyes
Alfonsina Storni
Alfonsina Storni
Invitacion a la lectura de Rainer Maria Rilke
An Invitation to Read Rainer Maria Rilke
Si Napoleon no hubiese existido
If Napoleon Had Never Existed
Jose Marti
Jose Marti
Recado sobre Pablo Neruda
A Message about Pablo Neruda
Como escribo
How I Write
Sobre cuatro sorbos de agua
On Four Sips of Water
La palabra maldita
The Forbidden Word
Mis ideas sociales
My Social Beliefs

Translator's Remarks
Index of Titles
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Review quote

"Tapscott's volume includes a rich variety of short texts--literary profiles, essays, stories for children, prose poems, biographies of religious figures, small fables extolling the romance of ordinary things, and writings on education and current events--and provides an excellent introduction to Mistral's prose. . . . [His] translations of Mistral's 'prose as tight as verse' are both lyrical and precise." * Women's Review of Books * "With his new translations . . . Stephen Tapscott makes great strides toward redefining Mistral, her work, and her life for the North American reader. This collection denies the critical urge to allow Mistral's most celebrated poetry to trump her multifaceted achievements and broad intellectual interests. For the anglophone Mistral aficionado, Selected Prose and Prose-Poems is a breath of fresh air from a window on unexplored terrain." * Bloomsbury Review *
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About Gabriela Mistral

Stephen Tapscott is Professor of Literature at MIT. He translated Pablo Neruda's 100 Love Sonnets / Cien sonetos de amor (UT Press, 1986).
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