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Artesana de sí misma

Gabriela Mistral, una intelectual en cuerpo y palabra

Claudia Cabello Hutt

254 pages
Purdue University Press

Artesana de sí misma by Claudia Cabello-Hutt reevaluates the place of Nobel laureate Gabriela Mistral in the literary and intellectual history of Latin America, illuminating and filling a number of lingering voids in the study of this canonical figure. Cabello-Hutt introduces readers to Mistral’s vast but scarcely studied journalistic prose as well as her unpublished manuscripts, letters, and images held in the United States and in newly opened Chilean archives. Moving beyond her amply discussed poetry, Cabello-Hutt demonstrates that Mistral’s essays, visual representations, and gender performance are key to understanding Mistral’s self-construction as a Latin American female intellectual and internationally recognized writer.

From 1920 until her death in 1957, Mistral shaped salient national and transnational debates, brokered relations between major writers, and fashioned a new model of the transnational intellectual in the context of anti-imperialist Latinoamericanism, US-promoted Pan-Americanism, and rising populist politics and social movements of the time. Placing Mistral’s gender, class, and racial performances in richer context, Cabello-Hutt reveals them as not only groundbreaking and strategically fashioned, but also as a logical product of the tensions, desires, and power struggles of the cultural field of this period—a cultural field in the process of redefining the interactions between the intellectual, the masses, and political and cultural institutions. Further, by mapping out the transatlantic intellectual networks in which Mistral operated—networks that included José Vasconcelos, Alfonso Reyes, Victoria Ocampo, and Joaquín García Monge—Artesana de sí misma also examines the processes of democratization and modernization that transformed the cultural field in the wider region between 1910 and 1940.