Gabriela Mistral’s Struggle with God and Man

A Biographical and Critical Study of the Chilean Poet


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About the Book

Chilean poet, educator, diplomat, and feminist Gabriela Mistral (1889–1957) rose from poverty in the foothills of the Andes to become the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1945. This volume provides both a detailed biography of the author and a careful analysis of her writing. Chronicling the personal, psychological, and social currents of Mistral’s life and times, it addresses such topics as her finances, illness, and sexuality. Literary analysis considers the sacred and secular influences on Mistral’s oevre, including Catholicism, the Hebraic tradition, Theosophy, and Buddhism. By recounting Mistral’s intelligence and perseverance in overcoming her life’s obstacles to reach the pinnacle of her field, this book establishes her as a model for Chileans and for humanity.

About the Author(s)

Martin C. Taylor has taught Spanish and Latin American literature at the University of Michigan, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Nebraska. The former dean of the Panama Center of Nova Southeastern University, he is the author of several books and articles on Latin American Literature.

Bibliographic Details

Martin C. Taylor
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 296
Bibliographic Info: 16 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, indexes
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6485-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9114-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Preface 1

Part One: The Secular

I. Personal Abnegation and Spiritual Fulfillment 7

II. A Pathway to the Sacred and the Secular 18

III. Family and Personal Matters 26

IV. Self-Education and Survival 46

V. Antofagasta: Desertic North and Arid Behavior 57

VI. Life Changes in Los Andes 62

VII. Sexuality, Humanity and Existential Choices 70

VIII. Punta Arenas: Exile in Land’s End 82

IX. Temuco: A Staging Area 93

X. The Transformation: Chile and Beyond 100

Part Two: The Sacred

XI. Critical Perspectives 113

XII. The Hebraic Tradition 115

XIII. A Quest for Religious Harmony 146

XIV. The Poetry of Sacrifice 183

XV. Conclusions on the Sacred and the Secular 215


  A. The Theosophical Society of La Serena 219

  B. Zacarías Gómez: A Personal Correspondence 223

  C. The Bible: “An Intimate Experience” 228

Chapter Notes 236

Bibliography 256

Index to Mistral’s Works 277

Index to Names and Places 280

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Looks at secular and sacred dimensions of Mistral’s life and work”—Reference & Research Book News

• “An indispensable contribution”—Anales de Literatura Chilena

• “Chile’s…and Latin America’s…first Nobel laureate in literature, Gabriela Mistral, absorbed in her life and writings Old and New Testament religiosity and studied and practiced Theosophy and Buddhism. In Dr. Taylor’s new, enhanced work he skillfully penetrates these issues as he interweaves the broader context of her religious and human struggles with the latest research and writings. This work, undoubtedly, will aid our understanding of this complex personality and reveal her relevant sacred and secular message to a 21st century audience.”—Pedro Pablo Zegers B., Director of the Writer’s Archive and Curator of the Mistral Legacy, National Library of Chile.