damning with faint praise and no space

After two years of research, reading prefaces to anthologies of Latin American poetry and descriptions of women poets in literary histories, I’m a veteran of hateful sexism. You’d think I’d be inured to it.   But this sentence dripped with such venom I thought I’d share it and perhsps that would defuse some of its power:

“She acheived a sort of stark and uncompromising beauty that came very close to justifying the 1945 Nobel Prize she received at a time when Reyes, Neruda, and Borges were all still very active.”

Thanks, Rodríguez Monegal… *sarcasm*. Why not just say right out, “Mistral did not deserve the Nobel Prize” and then explain why you think so?

There’s another phenomenon I keep seeing. A critic will praise a woman poet’s work to the skies, but then won’t discuss it; instead, will briefly describe the woman’s life, family, and reputation, while giving all the critical attention (and lots of space) to male poets who are not better writers. For example, Anderson-Imbert called María Eugenia Vaz Ferreira “the nucleus of Uruguayan poetry” and of modernismo; he praises her high level of complex thought and her technical perfection; but then he wraps her up in two paragraphs, following up with five pages in detail about Julio Herrera y Reissig, whom he calls “not a great poet…” If he’s not a great poet and Vaz Ferreira is, why did she get two paragraphs and he got five pages?