Eulalia Barrera B., born Eulalia Beatriz Barrera Barrera (Quito, 1918 – Unknown) was an Ecuadorian writer and journalist who, along with her sister Inés, made a significant contribution to Ecuadorian literature. The Barrera sisters not only penned numerous “tradiciones” and short stories but also compiled important anthologies showcasing the works of other Ecuadorian writers. Notable among these are “Tradiciones y leyendas del Ecuador” (El Comercio, 1947) and “Los mejores cuentos ecuatorianos” (El Comercio, 1948). Eulalia Barrera’s distinctive approach to the “tradiciones” genre, integrating a gender analysis, set her work apart. Her stories, particularly “Flor de amor” and “La Capilla del Consuelo,” scrutinize the subordinate roles of women in society, shedding light on themes of oppression, loyalty, and solitude. Many of her works remain uncollected.
Eulalia Beatriz Barrera Barrera, born in Quito, Ecuador in 1918, was a writer and journalist who made notable contributions to Ecuadorian literature. Her insightful short stories and culturally rich narratives, commonly known as “tradiciones,” provide a unique perspective on the societal norms of her time.
Early Life and Career
Eulalia Barrera, along with her sister Inés, embarked on a literary journey that spanned several decades, during a vibrant period in Ecuador’s cultural history. The sisters collaborated on various projects, writing and editing numerous “tradiciones” and short stories. Many of these works were published in the Ecuadorian press, but several pieces remain uncollected and forgotten, awaiting rediscovery.
Additionally, the Barrera sisters undertook the significant task of compiling anthologies that highlighted the works of fellow Ecuadorian writers. Two of these anthologies that stand out are “Tradiciones y leyendas del Ecuador” (El Comercio, 1947) and “Los mejores cuentos ecuatorianos” (El Comercio, 1948). These collections offered a platform for the rich tapestry of Ecuadorian literature to be appreciated more widely.
Literary Contributions and Style
Eulalia Barrera’s works stand out for their revitalization of the tradition of writing legends, a genre integral to Romanticism that had been imported to Latin America. Unlike simple legends, the genre known as “tradición,” which was pioneered by writers like Peruvian Ricardo Palma and Venezuelan Juan Vicente Camacho, added deeper meaning to the narrative, incorporating elements of linguistic analysis, satire, or even political commentary.
What set Barrera apart was her revision of this genre from a gender analysis perspective. Her works, “Flor de amor” and “Capilla del Consuelo,” delved into themes from Spanish medieval and Renaissance periods to scrutinize the social structures that subordinate women.
Notable Works and Themes
In “Flor de Amor,” Eulalia Barrera paints a portrait of a woman in a harem who must die to be appreciated by a man, the Caliph Harun al-Rashid, who already possessed other physically beautiful wives. Her death transforms her into a flower that the Caliph adores daily, symbolizing the oppression women face in society and their longing for recognition and equality.
“La Capilla del Consuelo” follows the protagonist, Doña Enriqueta de Mendoza, who loves Don Alvaro del Río. After their marriage, Don Alvaro leaves for Spain under a simple pretext, and never returns. Despite this, Doña Enriqueta remains loyal and continues to wait for him. Her devotion grows to the extent that she builds a chapel as a solitary place to console herself, showcasing the loneliness experienced by women left behind by their husbands and the extremes of their loyalty and devotion.
Through these narratives, Eulalia Barrera was able to critically examine the place of women in the contemporary Ecuadorian society of her time. Her stories illuminate the limited choices available to women and the constraints placed upon them, whether by society or personal loyalty.
- Flor de Amor
- La Capilla del Consuelo
Anthologies (Compiled with Inés Barrera B.)
- Tradiciones y leyendas del Ecuador (El Comercio, 1947)
- Los mejores cuentos ecuatorianos (El Comercio, 1948)