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In a time when few women in Europe were educated and even fewer spoke out against the status quo, Mara de Zayas (1590-?) published novellas filled with criticism about gender relations. Her best-selling Novelas amorosas (1637) and Desenga±os amorosos (1647) explore the pleasures and, more frequently, the perils of sex and marriage. Condemned as lewd, Zayas's work was excised from the literary canon by nineteenth-century scholars. But with the feminist revolution of the 1970s came a renewed interest in her fiction. Zayas's contemporary appeal is easily explained: through graphic images of violence against women and poignant examples of women's exclusion from social justice, she speaks to important issues of our own times.
Lisa Vollendorf illuminates this compelling author, using contemporary feminist theory to decipher the nuances of Zayas's complex ideologies. Revealing Zayas as a critical figure in European women's literary history, Vollendorf delineates the strategies and impulses behind early modern feminism.
|Titles of Maria de Zayas's Prose Fiction||13|
|Introduction: Reclaiming the Body||15|
|Pt. 1||Flesh and Blood|
|I||Social and Literary Contexts of Corporeality||35|
|II||Violence Denaturalized: Feminist Readings of the Body Imperiled||83|
|Pt. 2||The Boundaries of Gender|
|III||Women's Place in the Social Order: Public, Private, and Convent Life||125|
|IV||Crossdressers, Avengers, and the Performance of Gender||158|
|Conclusion: Feminism Embodied||197|