Rosario Castellanos : biography
Rosario Castellanos (25 May 1925 – 7 August 1974) was a Mexican poet and author. Along with the other members of the Generation of 1950 (the poets who wrote following the Second World War, influenced by César Vallejo and others), she was one of Mexico's most important literary voices in the last century. Throughout her life, she wrote eloquently about issues of cultural and gender oppression, and her work has influenced feminist theory and cultural studies. Though she died young, she opened the door of Mexican literature to women, and left a legacy that still resonates today.
Born in Mexico City, she was raised in Comitán near her family's ranch in the southern state of Chiapas. She was an introverted young girl, who took notice of the plight of the indigenous Maya who worked for her family. According to her own account, she felt estranged from her family after a soothsayer predicted that one of her mother's two children would die shortly, and her mother screamed out, "Not the boy!"
The family's fortunes changed suddenly when President Lázaro Cárdenas enacted a land reform and peasant emancipation policy that stripped the family of much of its land holdings. At fifteen, Castellanos and her parents moved to Mexico City. One year later, her parents were dead and she was left to fend for herself.
Although she remained introverted, she joined a group of Mexican and Central American intellectuals, read extensively, and began to write. She studied philosophy and literature at UNAM (the National Autonomous University of Mexico), where she would later teach, and joined the National Indigenous Institute, writing scripts for puppet shows that were staged in impoverished regions to promote literacy. Ironically, the Institute had been founded by President Cárdenas, who had taken away her family's land. She also wrote a weekly column for the newspaper Excélsior.
In addition to her literary work, Castellanos held several government posts. In recognition for her contribution to Mexican literature, Castellanos was appointed ambassador to Israel in 1971.
On 7 August 1974 Castellanos died in Tel Aviv from an unfortunate electrical accident. Some have speculated that the accident was in fact suicide. Mexican writer Martha Cerda, for example, wrote to journalist Lucina Kathmann, "I believe she committed suicide, though she already felt she was dead for some time.". at www.cordite.org.au There is no evidence to support such a claim, however.
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