Juana Inés de Asbaje and Ramírez de Santillana, known as Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, is one of the greatest Mexican poets of the Baroque New Spain. Her range of works are so huge that they have been given the nickname "The Phoenix of America." She wrote in verse and prose, creating theatre, poertry and narrative.
From very young she had an interest in reading and writing, thus which inspired her to devote himself to writing. She was under the patronage of the Marquis de la Laguna, who were the viceroys of New Spain at the time.
Her works, both religious and secular, takes place the end of the Spanish Baroque, and were influenced by the concept of Francisco de Quevedo and Calderón de la Barca and the culteranismo of Gongora, especially in his poetry.
She wrote an enormous number of plays, including the comedy Los Empeños de una Casa, which, in some passages, is reminiscent of the comedies of Lope de Vega. One should also note the Autos Sacramentales that she wrote for the court to be interpreted in Spanish.
She also wrote many famous “poemillas” called Enigmas, which were commissioned by the Condesa Pareces, another of her patrons, which aimed tested the ingenuity of the reader and were commissioned by the Condesa Pareces, another of his patrons. They were aimed at the Portuguese nuns who very fond of the work of Sor Juana and with whom she corresponded. These nuns then made handwritten copies of these poems, which were found in 1968 in the Library of Lisbon, where they remain today.
Her most important work is probably Primero Sueño, which is the only book that she wrote for her own pleasure, as the rest of her work was always written on behalf of her current sponsors. It is a long poem of 975 verses, the longest of its kind, and has a recurring theme as regards the literature sorjuanina: the intellectual capacity of human beings and their inability to understand all creation. This is a simple issue, but made more complicated in its baroque presentation. It is seen as a tribute to the Solitudes of Góngora. The poem itself foreshadows the influence of the Enlightenment, as the prevalence of reason against the myth and the victory of the Day over Night.
Her other works include:
- Neptuno Alegórico
- Carta Atenagórica
- Respuesta a Sor Filotea de la Cruz
Among many other works of praise, carols, love poetry, etc.
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz died at the age of 43 years, April 17, 1695, when an epidemic ravaged through the convent, leading to the deaths of almost 90% of its inhabitants mortality. Her remains were apparently found during construction work in Mexico City, but there is no proof that they are truly her.