The Youngest Doll

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Overview

A gentle maiden aunt who has been victimized for years unexpectedly retaliates through her talent for making life-sized dolls filled with honey. “The Youngest Doll,” based on a family anecdote, is a stunning literary expression of Rosario Ferré’s feminist and social concerns. It is the premier story in a collection that was originally published in Spanish in 1976 as Papeles de Pandora and is now translated into English by the author. The daughter of a former governor of Puerto Rico, Ferré portrays women loosening...

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Overview

A gentle maiden aunt who has been victimized for years unexpectedly retaliates through her talent for making life-sized dolls filled with honey. “The Youngest Doll,” based on a family anecdote, is a stunning literary expression of Rosario Ferré’s feminist and social concerns. It is the premier story in a collection that was originally published in Spanish in 1976 as Papeles de Pandora and is now translated into English by the author. The daughter of a former governor of Puerto Rico, Ferré portrays women loosening the constraints that have bound them to a patriarchal culture. Anger takes creative rather than polemical form in ten stories that started Ferré on her way to becoming a leading woman writer in Latin America.

The upper-middle-class women in The Youngest Doll, mostly married to macho men, rebel against their doll-like existence or retreat into fantasy, those without money or the right skin color are even more oppressed. In terms of power and influence, these women stand in the same relation to men as Puerto Rico itself does to the United States, and Ferré stretches artistic boundaries in writing about their situation. The stories, moving from the realistic to the nightmarish, are deeply, felt, full of irony and black humor, often experimental in form. The imagery is striking: an architect dreams about a beautiful bridge that “would open and close its arches like alligators making love”; a Mercedes Benz “shines in the dark like a chromium rhinoceros.” One story, “The Sleeping Beauty,” is a collage of letters, announcements, and photo captions that allows chilling conclusions to be drawn from what is not written. The collection includes Ferré’s discussion of “When Women Love Men,” a story about a prostitute and a society lady who unite in order to survive, and one that illustrates the woman writer’s “art of dissembling anger through irony.” In closing, she considers how her experience as a Latin American woman with ties to the United States has brought to her writing a dual cultural perspective.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
In this collection of stories originally published in Spanish in 1976 and now translated into English by the author, native Puerto Rican writer Ferre (now living in Washington, DC) portrays women who are loosening the constraints that have bound them to a patriarchal culture. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
New York Times Book Review
"The 14 stories in The Youngest Doll, as radiant as they are disturbing, are animated by ferocious river prawns, trees that weep and a 'town with beaches of white gunpowder which thundered at dusk when the tide began to rush in.' In masterly prose, the Puerto Rican-born poet, essayist and fiction writer Rosario Ferré conveys a world in which stories hide within stories, the personal is always political, mystery is as common and sudden as tenderness and endings are violent. Ms. Ferré (who has deftly translated the stories, occasionally with a collaborator, from the original Spanish) writes with an irony that cloaks anger about the oppression and danger inherent in being either a protected upper-class woman or a marginalized working-class woman in Puerto Rico's patriarchal society."—New York Times Book Review
The Nation
"Rosario Ferré shines, and it is high time for English-speaking readers to bask in her light."—The Nation
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803268746
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1991
  • Series: Latin American Women Writers Series
  • Pages: 169
  • Sales rank: 1,383,424
  • Product dimensions: 5.55 (w) x 8.91 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author

Rosario Ferré's works include Sweet Diamond Dust and The House on the Lagoon.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2000

    MAGIC REALISM WITH REMEMBRANCES OF VICTORIANISM

    As well as Jane Austen, Charlotte and Emily Bronte portray the presence of single women confined to their homes, Rosario Ferre describes this reality. At the same time that she refreshes it, by the use of Magic Realism. When in The Youngest Doll an old and sweet aunt takes revenge for her neace's opresion in a society where knowledge, and thus power are in the hands of men.

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