Rosario Ferré

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Rosario Ferré (September 28, 1938 – February 18, 2016) was a Puerto Rican writer, poet, and essayist.


  • …Feminine literature is much more subversive than the literature of the men because women often dare to delve into prohibited areas bordering the irrational and the mad, areas dealing with love and death, areas which in our rational, productive, and utilitarian society become dangerous when one acknowledges their existence.
  • Literature is prophetic-life often lives up to fiction
    • "Preface: Memoir of Diamond Dust" in Sweet Diamond Dust: And Other Stories (1988)

Interview (2002)[edit]

  • The fundamental truth of my life, the principle that governs it, is that nobody has a monopoly over the truth. Every person is a lens that focuses reality in a different way and everybody has the right to do so. This, in fact, is an anarchist principle, for I am indeed, an anarchist. From the moment I position myself at a certain standpoint, I immediately see things from that perspective and from its opposing perspective…
    • On how her writing allows readers to imagine themselves
  • I have had many opinions in my life because I have lived many lives. Ultimately, I can say that in all of my many lives, I have tried to do one fundamental thing: I have attempted to bring self-respect back to Puerto Ricans. That has been my purpose and I have been consistent in this. I believe that if readers can see themselves in what I write, if they realize that they share something with those characters, then they can understand themselves better and they can accept themselves. And when you accept yourself, you gain self-respect. If I have provided that space for two or three people in the world, I am more than satisfied.
  • These times made me search for guidance within myself, for a reason to live. This is where my literature comes from.
  • …I grew up in Ponce where all our domestic service was black. I always had a lot of contact with them, and to a degree they gave me the kind of love that my family denied me. And so I have that sympathy—or empathy—for la gente de color (people of color), and I cannot help it. However, I do not like to create archetypes. If it is possible to break down a novel into archetypes, it is not a good novel…
    • On featuring Black and mulatto characters in her works
  • being Puerto Rican is more than speaking and writing a language, and more than a language. It is a culture and a way of thinking; an environment; customs; food; a very complex context.
  • I think that accepting biculturalism is smarter than perpetuating the unyielding Nazi, fascist idea that we can only speak Spanish in Puerto Rico and that we can only think in nationalist terms.
  • the most revolutionary aspect of my books resides in their participation in the feminist struggle—in the search for individual freedom.

Interview (1993)[edit]

in Backtalk: Women Writers Speak Out by Donna Marie Perry

  • (Many of your stories use dolls as symbols of women's restricted lives. Were you sort of a doll in your marriage?) Yes, I was. Definitely. But in Puerto Rico most of the women of my generation were in the same situation. I was no exception. Women who wanted to change that or go against that stereotype would be considered odd or slightly crazy. The only reason they couldn't say the same about me was because I made it in the world of literature.
  • When I was fourteen I used to read literature in English. I read textbooks and the newspapers in Spanish, but when I really started to get into literature was when I started reading Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights
  • (Q: In "When Women Love Men" every woman who is sexually repressed would like to break those taboos and simply be sexually free.) If you read Freud or a little psychoanalysis, you know that society has to control that or there would be total anarchy. But everybody has the same desires. The important thing was that when this story came out no Puerto Rican woman had ever written about sex. My story is just a little story, and it's not Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer, but I think I was trying to go in that direction.
  • A story is like building a chapel; a novel is a cathedral: That's the difference.
  • "The Youngest Doll" was a very important story. It was the story that showed me how to write. It was my first breakthrough.
  • Writing is a lot like sewing: You bring pieces together and make a quilt.
  • There's still a fraternity of men. They admire themselves, and they admire each other's works. I think they are a little bit scared of women, too.
  • I have the idea that people who are very repressed tend to be inner-oriented; they talk to themselves more than other people. People who have difficulties making themselves heard have usually been brought up in stifling environments. Maybe that's why I felt as I did-because I was very timid. Maybe that's why my writing is so violent, in a way.
  • Literature is made of many pieces, of a reinterpretation of similar themes, of a recycling of materials. Only the mask exists, and the writer wears it to interpret the manifold possibilities of humanity that exist around him. He learns to be a writer when he can take someone else's mask and make it a part of himself and talk from that mask.
  • If the writer is trying to interpret the meaning of life, all of what he writes is autobiographical…When you write fiction, you are wearing a mask, you are dealing with magic. The novelist is like the shaman; he reinterprets the life of the tribe in terms of his fictitious characters, in order to bring out the devils. And that's what literature does.
  • All writers are unhappy with reality and so they want to build a world where things are open to change. They have created a different space where they would like to be. All writing is, in that sense, a meeting of reality but also an escaping of it.

Interview (1988)[edit]

In Interviews with Latin American Writers by Gazarian Gautier (1988)

  • The word is extremely important. As a writer, it is my means for self-definition, the tool to express my idiosyncracies, my personality. It is also like a painter's brush which I use to depict the reality of my people.
  • I very much believe in the influence of magic and the subconscious on the literary process...I think that magic has to do with the subconscious, much as the ancient sorcerers believed. The identification of man with his material surroundings and his active participation in that world are detailed in the books of Carlos Castañeda, for example, as well as, on a different level, with the books of sociologists like Lévy-Bruhl and Ernest Cassirer, or Lévi-Strauss. The magical identification has a lot to do with literature, this alternate way of viewing the world.
  • I have always wanted to understand certain things about myself and my life, but in order to know what I think, I have to write it down first.
  • ("What is your reaction when you have finished a work?") I almost always like it immediately after finishing it. I continue to think that I wrote something quite good for a period of maybe six months or a year. But after a year and a half I begin to see some flaws in it, after two years it begins to look pretty bad, after three years it is horrendous, and by the fourth year I want to burn the book.
  • Puerto Rico, like all the countries of the Caribbean, is a nation where fantastic reality, the world of magic, is ever present. There are various sects of white magic, such as Santeria. It is a reality that is very palpable in our environment, and this is why there are no great differences between fantasy and reality...All Caribbean writers have this in common.
  • Books grow and become something else
  • It's not that I want to victimize men, but I think that women have been the victims throughout the centuries, a fact which has been incorporated into mythology and which I thought it was high time to change.
  • I do believe in inspiration, but more so in dedication.
  • I certainly don't think that the discovery and colonization of America by Spain is anything that should be glorified. The first Indians who came into contact with the Spaniards were the Taínos, the native Puerto Rican Indians, who were a very peaceful people. The relationship which developed at first was very interesting because the Indians had no idea what the Spaniards would eventually do, and they trusted them and befriended them. The Indian leader Agüeybana even offered his daughter in marriage to Juan Ponce de León. But then they realized that what the Spaniards were doing was taking them as slaves, and this is when they began to rebel, without any success. When one thinks of what happened, it is truly an extermination of a people, comparable only to what happened with the Jews in World War II.

Quotes about Rosario Ferré[edit]

  • What a delight to discover that Ferré is as good a storyteller in English as in her native Spanish!
  • She become one of Latin America's most powerful writers. Still controversial, her works critique Puerto Rican society with detachment and precision: a cultural sexism that makes middle- and upper-class wives and daughters into dolls; the moral bankruptcy of a corrupt aristocracy; class conflicts that erupt into random violence; the desperation of women and men who are marginalized by poverty and racism.
    • Donna Marie Perry in Backtalk: Women Writers Speak Out (1993)

External links[edit]

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