Latino Studies Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
Ilan Stavans, Katharine Correia
  • LAST REVIEWED: 24 March 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 March 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199913701-0151


Arguably the most important poet of the colonial period in Latin America, and perhaps of any time, Mexican poet and playwright Sor Juana Inés de La Cruz (b. 1648–d. 1695) has a number of claims to fame. She is arguably the most important poet of the colonial period in Latin America and among the first to be read in Europe. She is also an influential proto-feminist whose ideological vision defined generations. Her life is divided into three more or less symmetrical parts: her out-of-wedlock birth, education as a criolla, an individual of Spanish descent born in Latin America, in what is today Mexico City, and early manifestations of poetic talent; her life at the viceroyalty court, particularly her relationship with the Condesa de Paredes; and her decision to become a nun or spend her life in the convent, at which time her local and international fame challenged the male ecclesiastical hierarchy in New Spain, prompting her confessor and other authorities to silence her. Her most important works are her philosophical poem Primero sueño (First Dream, 1692), her comedia Los empeños de una casa (Pawn of a house, first performed in 1683) and Amor es más laberinto (Love is but a labyrinth, 1689), her loas or autos sacramentales—religious one-acts—including El divino Narciso (The divine Narcissus, 1689), her “Carta atenagórica” (Athenean letter, 1690) in which she debates the work of Portuguese theologian Antonio Vieira, her proto-feminist “Respuesta a Sor Filotea” (Response to Sor Filotea, published in 1700) where she responds to her confessor’s command to give up her writing, and, mostly, an assortment of sonnets and other poems, including “Hombres necios” (Stubborn men). Fluent in Latin and also active as a writer in Nahuatl, Sor Juana’s oeuvre is relatively compact: it includes poetry and theater and her autobiographical and philosophical letters. A substantial amount was published in her lifetime. After her death, there were hagiographies and, especially in the early 20th century, foundational scholarly studies. Still, she was the property of a small cadre of followers until she breached into the larger public realm and elicited enormous critical attention after Octavio Paz, Mexico’s recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, released his years-in-the-making biography in 1982. Since then a slew of fresh, reinvigorated research has opened up new vistas on Sor Juana. Her correspondence with her confessor, the Bishop of Puebla, has been found, changing the established academic opinion that he obstructed her intellectual development. Correspondence with other colonial poets, a possible collaboration in a comedia, and other findings have inspired sorjuanistas in international forums. Sor Juana has also become a popular icon not only in Mexican culture but across the Hispanic world, especially among Latinos in the United States. Her image appears in portraits and on Mexico’s 200-peso bill; there are several biographies; and her story has been the subject of operas, movies, TV mini-series, novels, plays, and poetry collections; and her politics have inspired feminists around the world. This bibliography highlights the most important critical editions of her work, in Mexico and outside. It lists canonical scholarly book-length contributions. It catalogues translations into English and her impact among Chicanas in the United States. And it features creative works based on her life and politics. This bibliography isn’t exhaustive. It showcases Sor Juana’s most significant contributions and her reverberations in history. It opens with significant critical editions, moves to attributed works and other references, features important biographies, concentrates on selected studies principally in book form, acknowledges previous bibliographies, and showcases her presence in films, operas, theater, and in literary works. It concludes with a section on Sor Juana in the United States. Important sorjuanistas are identified with biographical dates and relevant contextual information.

Critical Editions

Sor Juana’s work began to appear six years before her death. Her debut was the Juan García Infanzón rendition of Inundación castálida (De la Cruz 1689), followed by two volumes brought out by Viuda de Bernardo Calderón: El divino Narciso (De la Cruz 1690) and a single-volume compilation then followed (De la Cruz 1700 and De la Cruz 1714). It was not until the mid-20th century that Alfonso Méndez Plancarte would edit, but die without completing, the canonical four volumes, still considered essential today (De la Cruz 1951), under the aegis of Fondo de Cultura Económica, a state-run publishing house intimately linked to Mexico’s modernization after the 1910 peasant revolution. This edition was reprinted, in full or in part, on a number of occasions. The scholarly work published in De la Cruz 1968, De la Cruz 1976, De la Cruz 1991, De la Cruz 1992a, De la Cruz 1992b, De la Cruz 1994a, De la Cruz 1994b, De la Cruz 2005, De la Cruz 2009a, De la Cruz 2010, De la Cruz 2015, and De la Cruz 2018 expand the context, either of individual poems or plays or of the entire canon. The most significant of these are De la Cruz 1994a, De la Cruz 1994b (in Venezuela’s famous Biblioteca Ayachucho), and De la Cruz 2015. And the edition De la Cruz 2004b is the first to offer all of Sor Juana’s oeuvre in digital form.

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. Inundación castálida de la única poetisa, musa décima, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, religiosa profesa en el monasterio de San Jerónimo de la Imperial Ciudad de México. Madrid: Juan García Infanzón, 1689.

    First publication of Sor Juana’s work in Spain a few years before her death, released apparently without her knowledge and contributing to her downfall. Inundación castálida describes the Greek myth about the fountain in Mount Parnassus. Its waters were traditionally seen as offering inspiration to poets.

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. Auto sacramental del divino Narciso, por alegorías: compuesto por el singular numen y nunca bien alabado ingenio, claridad y propiedad de frase castellana, de la Madre Juana Inés de la Cruz, Religiosa Profesa en el Monasterio del señor San Gerónimo de la Imperial Ciudad de México. Madrid: Imprenta de la Viuda de Bernardo Calderón, 1690.

    Second publication of Sor Juana’s work, shortly after Inundación castálida. This Auto sacramental, or allegorical play about Jesus Christ’s true nature, is the first of two volumes released by Paula Benavides, widow of Bernardo Calderón (born c. 1600), one of the most prolific printers in colonial Mexico.

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. Segundo volumen de las obras de Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, monja profesa en el monasterio del señor san Gerónimo de la ciudad de México. Madrid: Tomás López de Haro, 1692.

    Second volume published by the Paulina Benavides de Calderón printer.

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. Fama y obras pósthumas del Fénix de México, décima musa, poetisa americana, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, religiosa profesa en el convento de San Gerónimo de la Imperial Ciudad de México. Madrid: La Habana, 1700.

    Published posthumously, the volume for the first time showcased Sor Juana’s work.

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. Fama y obras pósthumas del Fénix de México, Décima Musa, poetisa americana, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, religiosa profesa en el convento de San Gerónimo de la Imperial Ciudad de México. Madrid: Antonio González de Reyes, 1714.

    Expanded edition of the 1700 volume.

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. Obras completas. Edited by Alfonso Méndez Plancarte. 4 vols. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1951.

    Volume 1 features lírica personal, Volume 2 villancicos and letras sacras, Volume 3 autos and loas, and Volume 4 comedias, sainetes, and prose. Méndez Plancarte edited the first three volumes and Alberto G. Salceda the last one. In spite of its age, this canonical work by Alfonso Méndez Plancarte (b. 1909–d. 1955) remains authoritative and is the go-to edition.

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. Obras escogidas. Edited by Juan Carlos Merlo. Barcelona: Bruguera, 1968.

    Sor Juana’s selected works in a popular Spanish edition.

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. Obras selectas. Edited by Georgina Sabat de Rivers and Elías L. Rivers. Barcelona: Noguera, 1976.

    Commercial edition by important Hispanic scholars, Cuban Georgina Sabat de Rivers (b. 1924–d. 2008) and American Elías L. Rivers (b. 1924–d. 2013).

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. Los empeños de una casa. Mexico City: UNAM, 1991.

    Showcases Sor Juana’s most famous play, first staged in 1683 to celebrate the birth of the first son of the Conde de Paredes. Centering on two couples not allowed to be together, it is believed to contain autobiographical material. The prologue, by Julio Jiménez Rueda, reprints an essay by Mexican playwright and diplomat Julio Jiménez Rueda (b. 1896–d. 1960) that makes the edition worthwhile.

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. Antología. Edited by Dolores Bravo. Mexico City: CONACULTA, 1992a.

    A selection of Sor Juana’s work explicitly compiled for high-school and college students.

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. Poesía lírica. Edited by José Carlos González Boixo. Madrid: Cátedra, 1992b.

    A critical edition of Sor Juana’s poetry.

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. Enigmas ofrecidos a la casa del placer. Edited by Antonio Alatorre. Mexico City: El Colegio de México, 1994a.

    Edition by Mexican critic Antonio Alatorre (b. 1922–d. 2010) of a then newly-found text by Sor Juana, written in 1692 as she was already overwhelmed by the silence imposed by the male ecclesiastical hierarchy.

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. Obras selectas. Edited by Margo Glantz. Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1994b.

    Margo Glantz (b. 1930) is an important Mexican scholar, essayist, and novelist with a life-long interest in Sor Juana. This edition is part of the transcontinental series Biblioteca Ayacucho, a governmental editorial project based in Caracas, Venezuela, and founded in 1974. Glantz once remarked—shrewdly—that after Octavio Paz’s influential biography of Sor Juana, her oeuvre would forever be seen as an extension of Paz’s oeuvre. While it is true, decades later a more objective perspective has emerged.

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. Autos sacramentales. Edited by Alfonso Méndez Plancarte. 3d ed. Mexico City: UNAM, 1995.

    Reprint edition of Sor Juana’s allegorical plays by her most important editor, Alfonso Méndez Plancarte (b. 1909–d. 1955), published by the editorial wing of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Prologue by Sergio Fernández.

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. El Sueño. Edited by Alfonso Méndez Plancarte. Mexico City: UNAM, 2004a.

    Reprint edition edited by Méndez Plancarte of Sor Juana’s famous poem about the human soul exploring the universe while asleep.

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. Obras completas. CD-ROM. Rosario, Argentina: Ediciones Nueva Hélade, 2004b.

    First digital edition of Sor Juana’s work. Work by Héctor A. Piccolli, Ailén Delmonte, Guadalupe Correa and Tadeo Stein.

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. Poesía, teatro, pensamiento: Lírica personal, lírica coral, teatro y prosa. Edited by Georgina Sabat de Rivers and Elías Rivers. Pozuelo de Alarcón, Spain: Espasa, 2004c.

    Another anthology by two important Hispanistas.

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. El divino Narciso. Edited by Robin Ann Rice. Pamplona, Spain: Universidad de Navarra, 2005.

    This volume focuses on Sor Juana’s one-act religious play—also known as either loa or auto sacramental—in which Jesus Christ is represented as the Greek myth of Narcissus.

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. Neptuno alegórico. Edited by Vincent Martin. Madrid: Cátedra, 2009a.

    Edition of Sor Juana’s prose piece written in 1680 to celebrate the entrance to Mexico City of viceroy Tomás de la Cerda y Aragón, Marqués de la Laguna, and his wife María Luisa Manrique y Gonzaga. With an introduction by Mexican muralist and poet Electra Arenal (b. 1935–d. 1969).

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. Obras completas. Edited by Antonio Alatorre. Mexico City: FCE, 2009b.

    Edition by Mexican critic Alatorre published by the venerable government publishing house Fondo de Cultura Económica, which was started by public intellectual and politician José Vasconeclos, it was meant to supersede the edition by Méndez Plancarte. Alatorre died in 2010 and only the first volume appeared.

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. Obras completas. Edited by Francisco Monterde. Mexico City: Editorial Porrúa, 2010.

    Incomplete, affordable paperback edition in a single volume. This work is broken down into four sections: Lírica; Villancicos y letras sacras; Autos y Loas; and Comedias, Sainetes y Prosa. Edition includes an index of translations for Latin and foreign language vignettes in Sor Juana’s writing.

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. El precipicio de Faetón: Edición y comentario de “Primer Sueño” de Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Edited by Alberto Pérez-Amador Adam. Madrid: Iberoamericana, 2015.

    Critical edition of Sor Juana’s famous poem by a Hispanic scholar at Germany’s Freie Universität de Berlín.

  • De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés. Ecos de mi pluma: Antología en prosa y verso. Edited by Martha Lilia Tenorio. Mexico City: Penguin Clásicos, 2018.

    This volume includes various poems and the Respuesta a Sor Filotea de la Cruz. All poems are based on the first editions of Inundación castálida, Segundo volumen, and Fama y Obras póstumas, but the spelling has been modernized in most works. Order of the works is roughly chronological and this volume includes annotations providing linguistic explanations and other clarifications.

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