Alarcón, Norma. 2003 “Traddutora, Traditora: A Paradigmatic Figure of Chicana Feminism.” In Perspectives on Las Américas: A Reader in Culture, History and Representation. Edited by Matthew Gutmann, et al., 33-40. London: Blackwell Publishing. [First published in Cultural Critique, Fall 1989, pp. 57-87].
This essay discusses how and why Chicana writers and thinkers have reinterpreted Malinche. Alarcón assesses the role and reputation assigned to Malinche by 16th-century chroniclers, Octavio Paz, and other male writers. She compares Malinche and the Virgin of Guadalupe, and she summarizes important Chicana revisionist work. Alarcón’s essay is at once historically and theoretically grounded, an important model of feminist and Chicana scholarship.
Candelaria, Cordelia (1980). “La Malinche, Feminist Prototype,” Frontiers 2 (Summer): 1-6.
This essay represents one of the first reassessments of Malinche published by a Chicana writer. Reviewing 16th-century sources, Candelaria finds Malinche’s “usefulness” to the Spanish extended beyond her work as translator. She was also (and no less importantly) a valued guide, advisor, strategist and interpreter of indigenous customs. The essay concludes by arguing Malinche should be viewed as a Chicana, feminist prototype: she defied traditional roles and expectations of women by creatively and strategically adapting to a historical situation she did not choose.
Cypess, Sandra Messinger, La Malinche in Mexican Literature: From History to Myth. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1991.
A study of the different ways literary works—primarily theatrical plays and poetry—have interpreted Malinche. Cypess emphasizes the 19th and 20th centuries, although she also discusses 16th-century chronicles. This volume addresses works in English and Spanish, presenting a good overview of shifting political and literary landscapes.
Díaz del Castillo, Bernal, The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico, 1517-1521. Translated by A. P. Maudsley. New York: The Noonday Press, 1965.
The most extensive 16th-century written descriptions of doña Marina known today comes from Bernal Díaz del Castillo’s narrative of the conquest of Mexico. His eyewitness account in many instances elaborates events and details that Cortés and other chroniclers merely summarize. Even so, this history was written decades after the conquest, and thus represents the memories of an aged conquistador. As with the letters of Cortés, it is also a politically-motivated rendition of past events: Bernal Díaz sought to “set the record straight” and “correct” other, competing accounts of the conquest. This is an English translation of the original Spanish.
González Hernández, Cristina, Doña Marina (la Malinche) y la formación de la identidad mexicana. Madrid: Ediciones Encuentro, 2002.
In this book, González summarizes historical information on doña Marina—her name, her place of origins, and her role in key conquest events. She also analyzes the symbolic role played by doña Marina in the development of Mexican national identity. Questions related to mestizaje are particularly well covered. In Spanish.
Karttunen, Frances, “Rethinking Malinche,” in Indian Women of early Mexico. Ed. Susan Schroeder et al., 291-312. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.
This essay presents an excellent summary of the historical information known about Malinche. Karttunen draws upon both written and pictorial sources from the 16th century, with particular attention to indigenous Nahua perspectives. This essay stresses the importance of Malinche’s resolve and ability to survive in adverse circumstances. It also ties the fate of her reputation to intellectual and political changes wrought by Mexican independence.
Lockhart, James, editor and translator, We People Here: Nahuatl Accounts of the Conquest of Mexico. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993.
This book transcribes 16th-century Nahuatl accounts of the Spanish conquest and provides English translations of these texts. Book 12 of the Florentine Codex, which describes the conquest of Tenochtitlan in detail, appears here in Spanish, Nahuatl and English; in this text Malintzin surfaces repeatedly. The volume includes a very useful introductory essay by Lockhart explaining key features of 16th-century Nahuatl accounts of conquest and their modes of expression.
Pagden, Anthony, Translator and Editor, Hernán Cortés: Letters from Mexico. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1986.
This book translates five letters Hernán Cortés penned between 1519 and 1526 and sent to Charles V, the King of Spain. Written from the Americas, the letters offer eyewitness descriptions of the conquest of Tenochtitlan and other indigenous communities, the defeat of Motecuzoma, the expedition Cortés led to Honduras (with doña Marina), and other conquistadors’ actions. These reports “from the field” were written, at least in part, to justify the conquistador’s actions and serve his ambitions. This volume includes two very useful introductory essays about the historical period and Cortés’s letters as historical documents.