Readers familiar with the study of colonial women writers will recognize Kathleen A. Myers as one of the pioneers in English-language criticism on the subject with her Word from New Spain: The Spiritual Autobiography of Madre Marla de San José (1993). Amanda Powell collaborated on the translations in Electa Arenal and Stacey Schlau’s groundbreaking Untold Sisters: Hispanic Nuns in Their Own Works (1989). These two scholars have come together in a new critical edition on María de San José, A Wild Country Out in the Garden, which is a thoughtful and solidly-researched contribution to the field of colonial studies.

In Spanish America, women’s autobiography is rooted in the hagiographic tradition of vitae, in which, at the request of the confessor, nuns wrote about their spiritual lives in autobiographical form. With over 2,000 surviving pages, María de San José (Mexico, 1656–1719) is one of the most prolific of such...

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