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Rosario Ferré 1942–-

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Puerto Rican short story writer, novelist, essayist, critic, poet, and translator.

The following entry presents an overview of Ferré's work through 1998.

Recognized as one of contemporary Puerto Rico's most important writers, Ferré is generally credited with launching the feminist movement in the U.S. commonwealth following the publication of her first book, Papeles de Pandora (1976; The Youngest Doll). Her extensive and diverse body of work, ranging from short stories, novels, and poetry to critical essays and translations, consistently engages the stereotypical feminine myths of western culture and reinterprets the traditionally passive and subordinate status of women in Puerto Rican society; for this Ferré has been the focus of considerable controversy. Influenced by the feminist vision of French novelist and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, Ferré has created aggressive, politically astute, and defiant personae who challenge and subvert the patriarchal norms of society yet embrace—indeed, celebrate—a distinctly feminine sensibility. Often compared stylistically to Chilean writer Isabel Allende, Ferré has incorporated techniques of magic realism including fragmented time sequences and multiple narrators and has interspersed elements of fantasy or myth in her feminist translations of ordinary Puerto Rican life. Although Latin American readers nearly unanimously acknowledge Ferré as their region's foremost femme de lettres, she has struggled to achieve similar recognition from an English-speaking audience, despite her award-nominated original English-language publication, The House on the Lagoon (1995), and a number of self-translations into English of her other works.

Biographical Information

Ferré was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico—a city long considered the island's southern capital—to Luis A. Ferré, an engineer who served as the island's governor from 1968 to 1972, and Lorneza Ramirez Ferré, the daughter of a family who owned sugarcane plantations. Her parents' marriage reflects the cultural changes that occurred in Puerto Rico during the first half of the twentieth century, as industrial concerns transformed the former agrarian economy and society; this phenomenon has inspired many of her stories. Ferré mainly attended Catholic schools for girls, except during her primary education, which she completed at a Jesuit school for boys. At this time Ferré's African nanny introduced her to the classical mythology and indigenous folktales that inform her narratives. After graduating from high school, Ferré briefly attended an American college to study English literature but abandoned it in 1960 to marry Benigno Trigo, a merchant with whom she had three children and later divorced, soon after her mother's death. By the early 1970s, Ferré resumed her studies at the University of Puerto Rico as a master's candidate in Spanish literature. There, she joined the cause of Puerto Rican independence, which defied her father's political agenda, and studied with magical realism writers Mario Vargas Llosa and Angel Rama, who both encouraged her literary ambitions. Meanwhile, Ferré founded and directed Zona de carga de descarga (1971–76), a controversial literary journal that also contained inflammatory but nonpartisan political articles. As a forum for new Puerto Rican writers, the journal also launched Ferré's literary career, debuting several of the stories that later appeared in her first collection, The Youngest Doll, which she published from her new residence in Mexico. A diverse body of writings followed in rapid succession, most notably the feminist criticism Sitio a Eros (1980) and the poetry collection Fábulas de la garza desangrada (1982). During the 1980s Ferré moved to the United States, where she earned a doctorate degree in Latin American...

(The entire section contains 47062 words.)

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Ferré, Rosario (Short Story Criticism)