- Paperback: 128 pages
- Publisher: Beacon Press; 1 edition (June 30, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0807070734
- ISBN-13: 978-0807070734
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 31 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #179,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lieutenant Nun: Memoir of a Basque Transvestite in the New World 1st Edition
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Marjorie Garber (Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety), provides a lively introduction to this picaresque autobiography of a 17th-century nun turned cross-dressing soldier. De Erauso's story itself is a swashbuckler's catalogue of sword fights, daring escapes, damsels in distress, and witty repartee. Even if only half of what de Erauso claims about herself is true, it's a life well worth remembering and an utterly wonderful read.
A rollicking, swashbuckling tale. -Los Angeles Times
"The frontier nun's rascally tale [is] a fascinating puzzle to decipher." -Angeline Goreau, The New York Times Book Review
"A mesmerizing adventure!" -Tama Janowitz
"[Catalina de Erauso] dared to steal the quest narrative from the roving men of her time and, miraculously, survived to tell the tale. An essential work for recovering the roots of women's autobiography and women's remaking of identity through encounters with otherness, not only in society but in the self." -Ruth Behar, author of The Vulnerable Observer
"The Steptos' translation, without betraying the original, turns this memoir into compelling literature in English." -Roberto González Echevarría, Sterling Professor of Hispanic and Comparative Literatures, Yale University
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time. She's a swashbuckler and an eye level view of Spanish society in Peru in the 1600s. Historians believe that, mostly likely, much of this book was actually written by this remarkable person. I'd recommend it as an enjoyable and quick read offering a first hand view of the past.
Catalina de Erauso was placed by her family in a convent at age four and escaped on an impulse at age fifteen. She cut her hair and made her undergarments into boy's clothes. All this without a plan. But once Catalina tasted masculine freedom, there was no going back.
She must have been exceptionally bright. Despite her total lack of life experience, she functioned successfully as a page at court, a ship's boy, a merchant's assistant and a soldier (promoted to Lieutenant for her valor in Chile). She survived a shipwreck, attacks by bandits, bloody battles and numerous duels and street fights.
Catalina was hotheaded and quick with her sword. A frequently occurring line in her memoirs is: "I ran him through, and down he went."
Her constant reversals of fortune and near escapes from marriage and from hanging make for breathtaking reading. Although a self-confessed thief, gambler and murderer, Catalina is strangely likeable. Not the least bit introspective or digressive, she's quite matter of fact about her exploits. A genuine man-woman of action.
Catalina's story also gives us an inside view of Spain at the height of its lust for conquest in the New World.
The introduction does a great job of analyzing Catalina in the context of her era. It also fills in details that the memoirs leave out. Such as, what did Catalina look like? And how did she end up?
Catalina became a legend in her day. But oddly, her memoirs were not published until 1829. Thank goodness they were not lost!
I'd recommend Lieutenant Nun to any reader interested in history, gender studies, extraordinary characters and/or over-the-top adventures.