Espinosa, Maria 1939-

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ESPINOSA, Maria 1939-

PERSONAL: Original name, Paula Cronbach; name changed June 6, 1966; born January 6, 1939, in New York, NY; daughter of Robert (a sculptor) and Maxine (Silver) Cronbach; married Mario Espinosa (a journalist), c. 1963 (divorced, 1965); married Walter Selig (a research chemist), c. 1975; children: (first marriage) Carmen. Ethnicity: "Jewish." Education: Attended Radcliffe College, c. 1957-58; Columbia University, B.A., 1962; San Francisco State University, M.A., 1981. Religion: Jewish.

ADDRESSES: Home—3396 Orchard Valley Ln., Lafayette, CA 94549. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Writer, 1967—. New College of California, San Francisco, teacher of creative writing, 1986-90, co-coordinator of creative writing department, 1990; teacher of English in Tucson community colleges, 1990-92; also worked as a teacher of English as a second language. Worked at a variety of other jobs, including dishwasher in a restaurant in Patagonia, AZ.

AWARDS, HONORS: American Book Award, 1996, for Longing.


Love Feelings (poetry), Four Winds Press (San Francisco, CA), 1967, new edition published as Night Music, Tides (Sausalito, CA), 1969.

(Translator) George Sand, Lelia, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1978.

Longing (fiction), Cayuse Press (Berkeley, CA), 1986, reprinted, Arte Público Press (Houston, TX), 1995.

Dark Plums (fiction), Arte Público Press (Houston, TX), 1995.

Incognito: Journey of a Secret Jew (fiction), Wings Press, 2002.

Translator of Plain-Chant [and] L'Ange heurtebise (bilingual edition), by Jean Cocteau, Sun and Moon Press; also translator of one chapter from George Sand's autobiography Ma Vie, edited by Thelma Jurgrau, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 1990. Work represented in anthologies, including Alameda Poets' Anthology; Anthologies of Underground Poetry, edited by Herman Berlandt; and Bay Area Poets Coalition. Contributor of poetry, articles, and short fiction to periodicals, including Studies in Literary Imagination, Three Penny Review, Tidings, Voices of America, and the online magazine Tertulia.

The fictional work Longing was translated into Greek.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Dying Unfinished, a novel.

SIDELIGHTS: Part of poet and novelist Maria Espinosa's motivation for writing, she explains in her Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series (CAAS) entry, comes out of her troubled family history. "The psychiatrist R. D. Laing writes that schizophrenia is caused in part by double binds," Espinosa stated. "At home there were double and triple binds nearly choking me. My father never touched me casually or with tenderness. His embrace was furtive and passionate, so that I was a little afraid of his touch." "I needed my parents' approval and affection," she continued. "Since they were rarely direct, a mere word or gesture, discounting through silence or changing the subject would profoundly affect me. Hooked on people's words, naively believing them, nevertheless I was aware that they were often false." "During these years," Espinosa concluded, "I wrote and wrote and wrote in order to loosen the bindings. I wrote in a large, scribbling uneven hand, pages and pages of ramblings which have long since been lost or destroyed."

Although Espinosa's troubled childhood led to more difficulties as an adult—including hospitalization in a psychiatric hospital after she had been expelled from Radcliffe for taking part in a pornographic film—she was able to deal with some of her problems in her fiction. Dark Plums, her novel about a young woman's descent into sexual obsession and madness, was begun in the early 1960s while Espinosa was staying on the Greek island of Rhodes. "Longing," she wrote in CAAS, "deals with my family, and I felt I had to write about things so long suppressed in order to keep—or regain—my own sanity."

Espinosa recently told CA that her novel Dying Unfinished, not yet published, also deals with her family.



Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series, Volume 30, Thomson Gale (Farmington Hills, MI), 1999.


Maria Espinosa Home Page, (February 21, 2005).

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Espinosa, Maria 1939-

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