Mariana de Carvajal y Saavedra, born in Jaén, was a Spanish writer of the 17th century. We probably know less about her than we would like to, given that historical development has generally made women's work invisible. For this reason, we will devote this space to her.
The only work by the writer that has been preserved and is known is Navidades de Madrid (noches entretenidas)(Christmas in Madrid(entertaining nights)), published in 1663. It is a series of short novels in which she portrays the urban environment, deals with the customs of the nobility and generally takes love as her main theme. She is also very aware of Moorish themes and, consequently, the stories of captives, as in the short story "El esclavo de su esclavo" (The Slave of His Slave). She thus engages in a dialogue with the literary tradition and follows the line of the Golden Age.
The voices and figures of women are particularly prominent in her work. Mariana de Carvajal not only constructs this collection of stories around a female narrator, Doña Lucrecia, but also gives the female characters a real protagonist role. They function as the driving force behind the action rather than being reduced to a more or less empty category. Likewise, although the author does not present an explicitly critical or contentious discourse, she does show a concern to provide a new perspective in which women have a greater presence, allowing them to express their ideas, problems and thoughts.
In this way, a work is articulated that also makes use of the adventure component, which guarantees entertainment. This, together with the format of a "series of short novels", where the stories are shorter and can be read independently, although there is a common background between them, makes it an enjoyable and attractive read. It is therefore suitable for all audiences. Moreover, in our edition by Ana Rossetti, the stories are accompanied by Inés Vilpi's carefully chosen illustrations, which manage to freeze the literary essence of Mariana de Carvajal and capture the interest of all audiences.
Considering that relatively little is known about the author, Navidades de Madrid (noches entretenidas) (Christmas in Madrid (entertaining nights)) is a good opportunity to approach her writing and discover new voices, those that have not always had a space in which to be heard.
Teresa Martín Merchán