Malinche: Slave Princess of Cortez

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9780208023438: Malinche: Slave Princess of Cortez

In 1519, Cortez and a handful of Spaniards, horses, and Indian allies marched across Mexico to the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, and there, through cunning and force, brought death to the emperor Moctezuma and destruction to his mighty empire. And always at the side of the conqueror was a young Aztec woman, whom the people called Malinche.
Her real name was Malinali, though the conquistadors called her Marina. Born a princess but sold into slavery by her own mother, and then given as tribute to Cortez, Marina became his translator, interpreter, confidante, and later, mother of two of his children. Like the emperor Moctezuma himself, she half-believed that the invincible man she followed was the beneficient god-king Quetzalcoatl. Aztec legend had promised his return from exile in the east to reclaim his kingdom from the usurping gods of war and death.
As for Cortez, he knew very well that his campaign to bring Christianity to the Aztecs, and extract gold from them, could never have succeeded so quickly without Marina's skills in language and diplomacy, and her undying loyalty. He called her "my tongue," and declared, under oath, that after God she was his greatest aid in the Conquest.
Today, the figure of Malinche is a curious creature - half legend, half history - lost in the folklore of Mexico. Was she a traitor to her people, a woman in love, a warrior princess, or a faithful servant manipulated by a ruthless man? Here her story is finally told, grounded in both Spanish and Aztec sources, and embedded in the rich culture and startling mores of her turbulent times. A well-crafted marriage of pure history and compelling storytelling, it restores a remarkable and resourceful woman to her place in history.

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About the Author:

Gloria Duran holds degrees from Wellesley College, Columbia University, and Yale University, and most recently has been Associate Professor of Spanish at the University of Connecticut.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 7 Up-- This lengthy apology for La Malinche, Cortez's interpreter and common-law wife, falls short of total vindication, but it does shed a sympathetic light on a young woman generally thought of as a traitor to her people. Born Malinali, the daughter and heir of an Aztec ruler, she was sold into slavery at age 12. Some years later, she met Cortez who, noticing both her attractiveness and her ability with languages, kept her close by him for seven years. Duran has followed historical sources, notably Bernal Diaz del Castillo's True History of the Conquest of New Spain , for the years Marina (her Spanish name) spent with Cortez. However, it is in the section on these years that the narrative bogs down. The earlier portion of the book, which consists of the author's conjecture of what Malinali's early years may have been like, is more atmospheric and readable. The Aztec and Mayan ways of life are clearly limned. The character of the determined and stubborn young Aztec noblewoman that is formed in these first 84 pages is hard to square with the less-independent, fanatically devoted woman she is shown to be after meeting Cortez, and the account of the taking of Tenochtitlan is hobbled by detail. It is unlikely that most readers will make it all the way through a book so laden with historical minutia, but teachers might find reading excerpts aloud a good way to flesh out units on the conquest of Mexico. Since La Malinche does not figure prominently in other novels for this age group, the book may be worth considering, especially if Latin American history is a focus. --Ann Welton, Terminal Park Elementary School, Auburn, WA
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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