3. Isabel Allende
Isabel Allende Llona
(August 2, 1942)
Isabel Allende is the most famous Hispanic female writer of the present day. She was born in Lima, Peru while her father was working as a Chilean diplomat there. After her father disappeared one day and never came home, her mother had to return to her home country with her children. Isabel Allende grew up on-and-off in Chile. She and her mother traveled all over the world, following her mother’s new companion, another diplomat who she called Tío Ramón. In Chile she worked as a writer for a feminist magazine back when the term feminist was foreign. She met her first husband and had two children, Paula and Nicolás. Her life was stable, though soon a series of major political events would change it forever.
Her paternal uncle, Salvador Allende, was elected president in 1970, becoming the first socialist president in Chile. His election was well received by the majority of the population, who saw in him the answers to so many of the problems that previous governments had overlooked. On the other side were those defeated in the election, and they were deeply upset. On September 11, 1973, General Augusto Pinochet leaded a coup d’état backed by the United States CIA. La Moneda Palace, their equivalent of the White House, was bombed and the president was found dead. The circumstances of his death have not been cleared; it’s generally believed that it was suicide, but many doubt it.
After Pinochet took control of the government, all followers of the previous regime were persecuted, many disappeared, some were imprisoned, many were tortured, and a number executed. Many left the country, including Isabel Allende. She went into exile in Venezuela, where she lived several years and wrote her first novel after the death of her grandfather.
Her first novel quickly became a huge critical and popular success and was translated into numerous languages. Her works are:
- The House of the Spirits (1982) La casa de los espíritus
- The Porcelain Fat Lady (1984) La gorda de porcelana
- Of Love and Shadows (1985) De amor y de sombra
- Eva Luna (1987) Eva Luna
- The Stories of Eva Luna (1989) Cuentos de Eva Luna
- The Infinite Plan (1991) El plan infinito
- Paula (1995) Paula
- Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses (1998) Afrodita
- Daughter of Fortune (1999) Hija de la fortuna
- Portrait in Sepia (2000) Retrato en sepia
- City of the Beasts (2002) La ciudad de las bestias
- My Invented Country: A Memoir (2003) Mi país inventado
- Kingdom of the Golden Dragon (2004) El reino del dragón de oro
- Zorro (2005) El Zorro: Comienza la leyenda
- Forest of the Pygmies (2005) El bosque de los pigmeos
- Ines of My Soul (2006) Inés del alma mía
- The Sum of Our Days: A Memoir (2008) La suma de los días
- The Island Beneath the Sea (2010) La isla bajo el mar
- Maya’s Notebook (2011) El cuaderno de Maya
More of her personal story will be described during our reading of Paula, which includes a number of letters she wrote to her daughter Paula while she waited for her to recover from an illness.
Watch this interview of the author and take notes.
To read everything related to Paula, go to the menu on your right and under CATEGORIES press the link “3 Allende.”
Crystal, Elyse, et al. “An Interview with Isabel Allende.” Contemporary Literature XXXIII.4 (1992): 585-600. Print.
Dulfano, Isabel. “The Mother/Daughter Romance–Our Life: Isabel Allende in/and Paula.” Women’s Studies 35 (2006): 493-506. Print.
Gough, Elizabeth. “Vision and Division: Voyeurism in the Works of Isabel Allende.” Journal of Modern Literature 27.4 (2004): 93-120. Print.
Levine, Linda Gould. Isabel Allende. Michigan: Twayne Publishers, 2002. Print.
– – -. “Defying the Pillar of Salt: Isabel Allende’s Paula.” Latin America Literary Review 30.60 (2002): 29-50. Print.
Rodden, John. “The Responsibility to Tell You: An Interview with Isabel Allende.” The Kenyon Review 13.1 (1991): 113-23. Print.