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Sketch of a doctor examining a patient

Doctor Examining a Patient

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In the color sketch from her self-illustrated memoirs, Evfrosiniia Kersnovskaia is examined by Doctor Mardna, while Nurse Margarita stands at the end of the bed. In the accompanying text, Kersnovskaia describes how well they took care of her, and how she trusted them completely.

Dona Marina in Florentine Codex

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This image was created by an indigenous painter in central Mexico and accompanies a written description of the conquest of Tenochtitlan, penned in both Spanish and Nahuatl in the Florentine Codex. The Florentine Codex is one of the fullest Nahuatl descriptions of the conquest. The scene shows Malintzin in the act of translating. She sits upon a palace roof with Cortés. Her... Read More »

Dona Marina, Cortes' Translator: Letter, Hernán Cortés

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This excerpt from Cortés’s Second Letter, written to Charles V in 1519 and first published in 1522, is one of only two instances in Cortés’s letters to the King that explicitly mentions his indigenous translator. The letters represent eyewitness accounts of the conquistadors’ deeds and experiences. In spite of the close relationship between Cortés and doña Marina, his comments are terse and... Read More »

Dona Marina, Cortes’ Translator: Nonfiction, Florentine Codex (Nahuatl)

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This chapter from the Florentine Codex, a bilingual encyclopedia of central Mexican life and history, was created by the Franciscan friar, Bernardino de Sahagún and indigenous advisors, painters and scribes. Nahuatl and Spanish texts appear side by side, and are accompanied by an image of Malintzin translating. The Nahuatl version of this text describes indigenous objects, words, and emotions... Read More »

Dona Marina, Cortes’ Translator: Nonfiction, Florentine Codex (Spanish)

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This chapter from the Florentine Codex, a bilingual encyclopedia of central Mexican life and history was created by the Franciscan friar, Bernardino de Sahagún and indigenous advisors, painters and scribes. Nahuatl and Spanish texts appear side by side, and are accompanied by the image of Malintzin translating (described above). The Spanish text represents Sahagún’s translation of the Nahuatl... Read More »

Dona Marina, Cortes’ Translator: Nonfiction, Octavio Paz

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This essay, which seeks to explain modern Mexican sensibilities by examining the phrases “hijos de la chingada” and “malinchista,” presents La Malinche as violated woman—part victim, part traitor to her nation. In Paz’s words, the Mexican people (the sons of Malinche), “have not forgiven La Malinche for her betrayal.” The essay is now a touchstone and point of departure for revisionist work on... Read More »

A representation of Malinche painted by a renowned Chicana visual artist and teacher from Texas. It depicts the beautiful, life-giving Malintzin, is a tiny image, crafted on metal, and meant to evoke ex-voto and other devotional images from Mexico

Dona Marina, Cortes’ Translator: Painting, Santa Barraza

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A representation of Malinche painted by a renowned Chicana visual artist and teacher from Texas. It depicts the beautiful, life-giving Malintzin, is a tiny image, crafted on metal, and meant to evoke ex-voto and other devotional images from Mexico. Malinche appears as a beautiful young woman with her gaze turned down so that she does not meet our eyes. Behind her appear references to the... Read More »

Dona Marina, Cortes’ Translator: Personal Account, Bernal Díaz del Castillo

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Perhaps the most famous 16th-century portrayal of doña Marina, this description is also the most extensive from the period. Díaz del Castillo claims she was beautiful and intelligent, she could speak Nahuatl and Maya. Without doña Marina, he says, the Spaniards could not have understood the language of Mexico. These words, while evocative, were written decades after Díaz del Castillo marched... Read More »

Dona Marina, Cortes’ Translator: Poem, Como Duele, 1993, Women in World History

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One of the earliest meditations on Malinche and her meaning published by a Chicana in the United States. This narrative explores Malinche’s fate and her abilities to negotiate difficult and competing cultural demands. It also grapples with the violence of colonization—in history, in Mexico and in the United States. The history it evokes is the intertwined history of indigenous and Chicana... Read More »

Dona Marina, Cortes’ Translator: Poem, La Malinche

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A well-known Chicana poem about Malinche. Tafolla took inspiration from the famous 1967 poem of the Chicano movement, “Yo Soy Joaquín,” but rewrites from an explicitly feminist perspective. The poem addresses the scene of European colonization, charting Malinche’s fate—as conquered woman, traitor, invincible survivor. Tafolla heightens the tension between traitor and survivor, raped slave and... Read More »

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