Octavio Paz, Nobel laureate, poet and one of the best writers of essays in the Spanish language, can give people seriously interested in learning about Sor Juana invaluable information in this beautifully researched book. Everything that is really known about her biography (not anachronistic twentieth-century storytelling and fantasy) is here; and, very importantly, authoritative background information on Colonial Mexican history and culture, social organization, religious practices and norms, and reading materials and habits. Sor Juana is a complex woman, a great reader and thinker that has to be understood in context. This book provides this, and also a sensitive and informed reading of her work. It is also a very good read. Modern-day fictional accounts are deceptive and will short-change you. Don't fall for them. This book is the real thing.