María de Zayas y Sotomayor Criticism - Essay

Marcia L. Welles (essay date October 1978)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Welles, Marcia L. “María de Zayas y Sotomayor and Her novella cortesana: A Re-evaluation.” Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 55, no. 4 (October 1978): 301-10.

[In the following essay, Welles offers an evaluation of Zayas's short stories, contending that her writing was popular not just because of its content, but also because of its superb craftsmanship, including the use of formulaic elements in innovative ways.]

The short story, or novela cortesana,1 had a wide and rapid diffusion after the initial impetus of the publication of the Novelas ejemplares of Cervantes in 1613. Yet the splendour of the Golden-Age drama, the grandeur...

(The entire section is 7280 words.)

Kenneth A. Stackhouse (essay date 1978)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Stackhouse, Kenneth A. “Verisimilitude, Magic, and the Supernatural in the Novelas of María de Zayas y Sotomayor.” Hispanofila 62 (1978): 65-75.

[In this essay, Stackhouse argues that Zayas used magic and the supernatural in order to circumvent the difficulties she faced as a female writer whose ideals differed from those of her society.]

María de Zayas y Sotomayor (1590-1661?) was a popular seventeenth-century post-Cervantine novelist whom many remember principally for her violent opposition to the misogyny entailed by the Spanish literary convention of pundonor.1 The purpose of this paper is to illuminate Zayas' resolution of a...

(The entire section is 5447 words.)

Lucía Fox-Lockert (essay date 1979)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Fox-Lockert, Lucía. “María de Zayas.” In Women Novelists in Spain and Spanish America, pp. 25-35. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1979.

[In the following essay, Fox-Lockert presents an overview of Zayas's life and works from a sociological and feminist viewpoint.]

One of the most important figures among feminine writers, and the first woman novelist, is a Spanish woman of whom relatively little is known. Her identity remains somewhat a mystery, although the critics1 have chosen from several women one who best fits the chronology of her two novels. María de Zayas was born in Madrid in 1590, belonged to the upper class socially and participated...

(The entire section is 5073 words.)

William H. Clamurro (essay date summer 1988)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Clamurro, William H. “Ideological Contradiction and Imperial Decline: Toward a Reading of Zayas's Desengaños amorosos.South Central Review 5, no. 2 (summer 1988): 43-50.

[In the essay below, Clamurro regards de Zayas's Desengaños as an example of a text that reflects the ideological crises of her times.]

The fiction of María de Zayas y Sotomayor has attracted increased critical attention in recent years, in no small part as a result of the general recuperation of certain writers previously relegated to obscurity by the essentially patriarchal discourse of literary criticism. In addition, although the vagaries of literary history and its...

(The entire section is 4205 words.)

H. Patsy Boyer (essay date spring 1990)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Boyer, H. Patsy. “The ‘Other’ Woman in Cervantes's Persiles and Zayas's Novelas.” Cervantes 10, no. 1 (spring 1990): 59-68.

[In the essay which follows, Boyer studies the frame narrative of Zayas's Disenchantments as a means of re-creating the notion of the “other” woman as represented in texts such as Cervantes's The Trials of Persiles and Sigismunda.]

Struck by the impressive array of “other” women in The Trials of Persiles and Sigismunda and in Zayas's double collection of framed novelas,1 I decided to study Zayas's frame narrative as a re-vision of the Sousa Coutinho episode in Persiles (I, 10) because...

(The entire section is 3759 words.)

H. Patsy Boyer (essay date 1990)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Boyer, H. Patsy. Introduction to The Enchantments of Love: Amorous and Exemplary Novels, translated by H. Patsy Boyer, pp. xi-xxxi. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1990.

[In the following essay, Boyer provides an overview of Zayas's life and works.]

The life of Maria de Zayas y Sotomayor remains largely a mystery. The only facts known about her are that she lived in Madrid during the first half of the seventeenth century and was a recognized literary figure. She wrote much occasional poetry, at least one play, The Betrayal of Friendship, and two best-selling collections of framed novellas, The Enchantments of Love: Amorous and...

(The entire section is 8089 words.)

Patricia E. Grieve (essay date spring 1991)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Grieve, Patricia E. “Embroidering with Saintly Threads: María de Zayas Challenges Cervantes and the Church.” Renaissance Quarterly 44, no. 1 (spring 1991): 86-106.

[In this essay, Grieve maintains that Zayas used her writing to challenge both the secular and religious authorities of her time.]

When the Spanish novella-writer, María de Zayas y Sotomayor, challenged seventeenth-century male authorities, her challenge embraced both sacred and profane canons. Zayas invests her novellas with the formal properties of hagiography while subverting the ideology of that Church-sanctioned genre. At the same time, Zayas shows herself to be a subtle reader and...

(The entire section is 9411 words.)

Ruth El Saffar (essay date fall 1993)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: El Saffar, Ruth. “Ana/Lysis/Zayas: Reflections on Courtship and Literary Women in Maria de Zayas's Enchantments of Love.Indiana Journal of Hispanic Literatures 2, no. 1 (fall 1993): 7-28.

[In the following essay, El Saffar offers a detailed explanation of Zayas's Enchantments, reflecting on how the narrative's multiple levels represent the problems faced by a female author living and working in a patriarchal society.]

Maria de Zayas's 1637 collection of Novelas amorosas y ejemplares, The Enchantments of Love,1 is, at the most obvious level, a multi-layered artifact in the tradition of Boccaccio. A group of well-born...

(The entire section is 9722 words.)

Valerie Hegstrom (essay date summer 1994)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hegstrom, Valerie. “The Fallacy of False Dichotomy in María de Zayas's La traction en la amistad.Bulletin of the Comediantes 46, no. 1 (summer 1994): 59-70.

[In the following essay, Oakey regards Zayas's drama as a subversion of Golden Age conventions, where the reimposition of male dominance signals the end of the play and a return to normality. This essay was originally published under the name Valerie Hegstrom Oakey.]

The works of María de Zayas have gained more importance recently in studies of Spanish Golden Age literature. While several books and articles have appeared on her narrative works, only a few scholars have studied her theater....

(The entire section is 4191 words.)

Catherine Larson (essay date fall-spring 1994-95)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Larson, Catherine. “Gender, Reading, and Intertextuality: Don Juan's Legacy in Maria de Zaya's La Traición en la amistad.INTI: Revista de Literatura Hispanica, no. 40-41 (fall-spring 1994-95): 129-38.

[In the essay that follows, Larson compares the treatment of the relationship between men and women in Zayas's La tración with Tirso do Molina's El burlador de Sevilla.]

María de Zayas's comedy, La traición en la amistad, could not, in many ways, be more distant and removed from Tirso de Molina's eschatological, moralizing El burlador de Sevilla. The comedy, written by a woman, deals with the amorous problems of the idle,...

(The entire section is 4617 words.)

Teresa S. Soufas (essay date 1994)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Soufas, Teresa S. “María de Zayas's (Un)Conventional Play, La traición en la amistad.” In The Golden Age Comedia: Text, Theory, and Performance, edited by Charles Ganelin and Howard Mancing, pp. 148-64. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 1994.

[In the following essay, Soufas appraises Zayas's La traición from a feminist viewpoint, arguing that literature itself is representative of the social institution from which it stems. She further argues that Zayas is aware of this interdependency, using her writing to critique both the literary and social models of her own society.]

… the plots of women's literature...

(The entire section is 7066 words.)

Laura J. Gorfkle (essay date September 1995)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Gorfkle, Laura J. “Seduction and Hysteria in María de Zayas's Desengaños Amorosos.Hispanofila 115 (September 1995): 11-28.

[In the following essay, Gorfkle explores Zayas's attitude toward female sexuality and gender as it is expressed in her Desengaños amorosos.]

The woman novelist must be an hysteric. Hysteria … is simultaneously what a woman can do both to be feminine and to refuse femininity, within patriarchal discourse.

Juliet Mitchell, Women: The Longest Revolution.

María de Zayas's collection of short fiction, Desengaños amorosos, first published...

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Susan Paun de Garcia (essay date 1995)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: de Garcia, Susan Paun. “Zayas as Writer: Hell Hath No Fury.” In María de Zayas: The Dynamics of Discourse, edited by Amy R. Williamsen and Judith A. Whitenack, pp. 40-51. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1995.

[In the essay below, de Garcia contends that the frame narratives of Zayas's two collections reflect her evolving relationship with the literary academies of her time.]

María de Zayas was an enormously popular writer. Though her comedia went unpublished and, as far as we know, unperformed, her poetry was very successful in her own time, and her prose works are still being edited and read today. In addition, we know that...

(The entire section is 5008 words.)

Judith A. Whitenack (essay date 1995)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Whitenack, Judith A. “‘Lo que ha menester’: Erotic Enchantment in ‘La inocencia castigada.’” In María de Zayas: The Dynamics of Discourse, edited by Amy R. Williamsen and Judith A. Whitenack, pp. 170-91. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1995.

[In the following essay, Whitenack offers an overview of “La inocencia castigada,” one of the tales in Zayas's Desengaños, focusing on the use of enchantment in the story.]

The unspeakable horrors of Doña Inés's six-year “castigo” [punishment] have been the focus of most commentaries on María de Zayas's “La inocencia castigada” [Innocence punished]. This tale of a...

(The entire section is 8836 words.)

Lisa Vollendorf (essay date 1997)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Vollendorf, Lisa. “Our Bodies, Our Selves: Vengeance in the Novellas of María de Zayas.” Cincinnati Romance Review XVI (1997): 93-100.

[In this essay, Vollendorf studies the two novellas by Zayas for their exploration of the dynamics of vengeance, especially as it relates to the sexuality and sexual powerlessness facing female characters.]

Is Justice …
Governed by greed and lust?
Just the strong doing what they can
And the weak suffering what they must?
.....And sex sells everything,
And sex kills …
Sex kills …

—Joni Mitchell

In the above quote from a song that hinges on the refrain “sex kills,” Joni Mitchell...

(The entire section is 2897 words.)

Marina S. Brownlee (essay date 2000)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Brownlee, Marina S. “Baroque Subjects: Changing Perspectives in Zayas's Novelas.” In The Cultural Labyrinth of María de Zayas, pp. 26-73. Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000.

[In the essay that follows, Brownlee draws a parallel between the postmodern theories of cultural historians of the early twentieth century and the cultural climate in which Zayas produced her work, noting that there are several instances where the two share fundamental similarities.]

When the Novel becomes the dominant genre, epistemology becomes the dominant discipline.

Mikhail Bakhtin,...

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Yolanda Gamboa (essay date 2000)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Gamboa, Yolanda. “Gender Coding in the Narratives of Maria de Zayas.” In Women, Society and Constraints: A Collection of Contemporary South African Gender Studies, edited by Jeanette Malherbe, Marc Kleijwegt, and Elize Koen, pp. 197-209. Pretoria, South Africa: Institute for Gender Studies, Unisa Press, 2000.

[In the following essay, Gamboa focuses on Zayas's works, recounting the strains and restrictions placed on women in the patriarchal system of early modern Spain.]


In this paper, I look at the constraints on women in the patriarchy of early modern Spain, as reflected in the novels of the popular woman writer of the...

(The entire section is 4683 words.)

Yvonne Jehenson and Marcia L. Welles (essay date 2000)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Jehenson, Yvonne, and Marcia L. Welles. “María de Zayas's Wounded Women: A Semiotics of Violence.” In Gender, Identity, and Representation in Spain's Golden Age, edited by Anita K. Stoll and Dawn L. Smith, pp. 178-202. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 2000.

[In this essay, Jehenson and Welles evaluate the Zayas's positioning of women as related to contemporary debates about women, pornography, and the sadomasochistic dynamic.]

The Desengaños amorosos (1647) [The Disenchantments of Love] are set in a period preceding “los alegres días de las carnestolendas” (118) [“the festive days of Mardi Gras” (37)].1 Situated...

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Yolanda Gamboa (essay date spring 2003)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Gamboa, Yolanda. “Architectural Cartography: Social and Gender Mapping in María de Zayas's Seventeenth-Century Spain.” Hispanic Review 71, no. 2 (spring 2003): 189-203.

[In the following essay, Gamboa proposes that the image of the house in Zayas's works is representative of the merging space occupied by the modern family, and reflects, in a microcosm, the individual's placement within the larger social arena.]

María de Zayas's popular framed novels have been the object of significant attention in the last few decades. Critics have highlighted the crucial difference in tone between her two collections, namely, Novelas amorosas y ejemplares...

(The entire section is 5327 words.)