“The Shrouded Woman,” by María Luisa Bombal, follows Ana María, a woman betrayed by her times. This was one of the books I read for my thesis and was an excellent example because Ana Maria spends her whole life not speaking and holding back things she wants to say.
“La Amortajada,” as it is titled in Spanish, is different in that the whole novel takes place after Ana Maria has died—we are in the room, a silent spectator, as each person she has loved in her life comes to her casket to say their goodbyes.
We get Ana María’s commentary and memories as she sees each person; ironic for the amount of time she spent silent during her life.
Ana María’s memories reflect on a life of pain and forbidden feelings—a woman who has so suppressed her personality that she is always depressed and forgets who she is. But we also see a strong woman, a woman who raised children and maintained relationships the best she could, and that is something to be appreciated.
“The Shrouded Woman” is also where I found one of favorite quotes of all time.
“¿Por qué, por qué la naturaleza de la mujer ha de ser tal que tenga qe ser siempre un hombre el eje de su vida?”
“Why, oh why must a woman’s nature be such that a man has always to be the pivot of her life?”
It sounds much more majestic in Spanish than in English, which is why I put both here. This was a bold statement for a woman in the 1930s, when this work was published.
Bombal’s works have not been widely translated as Allende’s have, so I suggest you read whatever you can find by her—it will open your mind.
Tagged as: maria luisa bombal. la amortajada. the shrouded woman.