David Hildner has provided us with the text of Calderon's DARLO TODO Y NO DAR NADA, a play that should tickle the fancy of any who are interested in the relationship of pictorial art to the comedia..
Lope de Vega's LAS BIZARRÍAS DE BELISA is now up and running and is ready for your use. This very interesting work is one the last written by the master, Lope, and certainly shows the effects of the changes taking place in the theatrical world of the 1630's. This must be the season for works in which the women control the world, what with this play and the Calderon work that is described below.
At this time I am writing to announce the availability of yet another text, a play edited here under the title AMOR NO TEME PELIGROS. There are very interesting problems of title, attribution, and chronology with regard to this play that has generally been published as the work of Tirso de Molina under the title LA FIRMEZA EN LA HERMOSURA. Almost twenty years ago now Harold G. Jones and I began a project to edit this play along with its companion piece, the manuscript version of LOS BALCONES DE MADRID. Shortly after we published a preliminary study of the two works in an rticle for ESTUDIOS, nos. 132-35 (1981), pp. 133-55, a critical edition of the BALCONES was published in Spain and work on our own edition was never completed. As we demonstrated in our article the two plays are linked by physical proof as well as literary content and style. The AMOR NO TEME PELIGROS, in the manuscript version (dated in 1635) used as the base text for this edition, is ascribed to Pedro Calderon. It was and is our opinion that the work does, however, belong to the theater of the Mercedarian and that both were written in the early years of the decade (1631-35). If this proves to be true, the plays would belong among the last plays written by Tirso. If the madcap, merry chase known as the BALCONES DE MADRID is, as its final lines proclaim, "...la primer comedia / que tiene fin en el aire," AMOR NO TEME PELIGROS is its equal in dramatic technique and subject matter. In the latter, although their love is continually tested, it is never in doubt and the loving couple marries in the second act. In the final lines the work claims to have been written, "Porque pueda rematarse, / sin curas y sin padrinos, / una comedia soltera." What is clear is that this edition of AMOR NO TEME PELIGROS (La firmeza en la hermosura) represents the first time that the play has been published in its complete, full length. What is also clear is that the the versions of both AMOR and the BALCONES, as edited from the earliest manuscripts, are completely different works from those known and edited from the first published texts. A real surprise awaits those who know the plays only from the versions published in the standard collections of Tirso's plays.
TRATO DE ARGEL, a very early four-act work that gives us an interesting view of life as a captive of the Moors from the biased viewpoint of a younger man as well as a look at what the pre-Lopean comedia may have looked like in written form.
EL GALLARDO ESPAÑOL, a technically updated theatrical vision of the same situation, a better play but one that is still not up to the standard of the Lopean theater.
EL RUFIÁN DICHOSO, a very interesting look, in the first act, at the life of pimps and prostitutes in late sixteenth-century Madrid and then, in acts 2 and 3 of this hagiographic work, the pimp becomes an early American saint. All three are interesting works, if nearly unproduceable as theater. I find that they approach the shape and form of pageants rather than drama--replete with numerous "types," few real characters, and short of dramatic conflict. Have fun with them! More later!
Three plays by Miguel de Cervantes. First, two works in which the author takes up his familiar theme of life among the kidnapped among the Moors and their relationships with their masters as they await ransom: LA GRAN SULTANA, and LOS BAÑOS DE ARGEL. In these comedias Cervantes relates tales from experiences he had or heard while in captivity. In LA CASA DEL LOS CELOS, Cervantes takes up in a theatrical format, the world of knighthood and fair, or unfair, ladies as he deals with the Carolingian world: Malgesí, Merlin's ghost, Reinaldos, Orlando, Carlomagno, Bernardo del Carpio, and the fair Angelica as well as the warrior woman Marfisa who outgrips the cry-baby Galalón. In LA GRAN SULTANA some very interesting things happen, especially in the harem where one of the "ladies" is a male dressed in female clothes. He is undone when the Sultan chooses him for an evening of pleasure. At this, he tries to convince everyone that "he" was originally a "she" who became transformed as the result of a miracle! Other fun and games include the "do-everything" gracioso Madrigal who escapes punishment by convincing the Sultan that he can and will teach an elephant to talk. LOS BAÑOS DE ARGEL takes up familiar material about life in the bagnios or holding cells and a relationship develops between one of the prisoners and a lady who comes fishing for him.
PEDRO DE URDEMALAS was good fun for me to work with. A Pretender from the Golden Age! The play should be a good source of material for those working with "role playing", connections between the theater and the picaresque tradition, and satire. The Cervantine wit runs wild throughout the play, too. Almost like Oscar Wilde, as witness this description of a swan "canta un cisne / en las aguas de Meandro."
EL LABERINTO DE AMOR, is a play in which you will find tremendous scenes full of the student slang of the times along with a supply of quite risque puns. It also another of the works in which role playing takes over the scene and cross-dressing plays its role. Even double-cross dressing! (A woman disguised as a man pretends to be a woman in order to gain access to an imprisoned lady.)
LA ENTRETENIDA, a work built around a problem of incest avoidance, has much of interest for those interested in a Golden Age view of America (even the Bermuda triangle) and the "indianos," or the "teatro dentro de teatro." The language of the play is typically cervantine, in fact the author here replays several of the puns and double-meanings for which he is known. In scanning the work I noted, for example, the play on "cortesana" that was also used in EL LICENCIADO VIDRIERA, "es má's corte's que sana." Another element is also found in EL CURIOSO IMPERTINENTE, the warning about the "ama de quien sabe su criada/tiernas fragilidades..." It seems to me that this play more acurately follows the model of the comedia structure as set by Lope de Vega and other play writers than do any of the other nine full-length plays by Cervantes. Still, even here, Cervantes demonstrates once more his usual perversity. The comedia ends without the conventional mutliple marriages and each character singly goes off stage, happy to remain unmarried. If a director were looking for a play by Cervantes that could be produced modernly for an audience in Latin-America, he would certainly find much in this work for his actors to chew on and for him to consider.
Thanks to the tremendous effort and great generosity of David Hildner, who has sent the files containing that text to us via the internet, we now have available to us the fascinating work DESDE TOLEDO A MADRID. This work is fascinating for its views of travel customs and of the often traveled road between these two cities (The heroine --to delay matters and to gain proximity to her love interest-- even feigns, in a most realistic fashion, what today would be called a bout of motion sickness resulting from the coach ride. But of most interest literarily, we would have to talk about the problem of "burlas veras" at the heart of the text and action. The opening scene in which the young man, escaping from just having dispatched an unknown interference, hides in the lady's apartments and, finding himself unexpectedly trapped and locked in, goes to sleep on her bed where she find him when she enters. Problems--Who's that sleeping in my bed?
I have also prepared and made ready, in out standard format, the text of the fascinating play EL AMOR MÉDICO. For those unfamiliar with this particular text, let me say that I was struck by the many aspects of "role playing" found in it. The lady Doña Gerónima, goes in search of the young man who has NOT tried to make her acquaintance and plays several roles, sometimes simultaneously in so doing. She is at once, "dama," "hermana del médico," and "médico" herself. The play, as it begins shows her as a woman who seeks an education that would match her with more than one other in Seville, seying that her model would be queen Isabel herself:
La reina doña Isabel, que a tanta hazaña dio fin, empieza a estudiar latín y es su preceptora en él otra que por peregrina no hay ingenio que no asombre, tanto que olvidan su nombre y la llaman la Latina. Por esto quiero imitalla. QUITERIA: Haces bien; mas de ese modo procura imitarla en todo, por mujer y por vasalla; cásate, pues se casó. GERÓNIMA: Dame tú un rey don Fernando que, a Castilla gobernando, me deje estudiar, que yo haré mis dichas iguales. El matrimonio es Argel, la mujer cautiva en él. Las artes son liberales porque hacen que libre viva a quien en ellas se emplea; ¿cómo querrés tú que sea a un tiempo libre y cautiva?
From this point she moves to declare her intention of studying medicine and makes several interesting points: Veterinarians were subject to licencing restrictions but doctors weren't! Besides what great education was needed to make sure your patients were dead? However, the dietary and health regimen she prescribes to another young woman in Act II seems just as valid today--proper diet and moderate exercise!
Calderón's auto ANDROMEDA Y PERSEO, a marvelous poetic marriage of classical myth and Catholic explanation of the creation and redemption.
LAS ARMAS DE LA HERMOSURA by Calderón as provided for us by David Hildner. In his letter to me describing the work he says,
"I find it unique in that it deals with republican Rome and thus has no actual monarchs or princes on the Roman side. The political power (except among the Sabines) resides in the Senate, the nobility, and the people. It also deals with women's issues. Not all critics today would be satisfied with Calderón's treatment of these issues, especially the idea that tears are women's "proper weapon". But it does raise some fascinating points. I hope you and the Comedia webpage readers enjoy it."
MAÑANAS DE ABRIL Y MAYO by Calderón, that is a nicely develops "comedia de capa y espada."
CELOS CON CELOS SE CURAN by Tirso. I was very interested in the fact that the play is motivated the jealousy of the "dama" for the "galán's" relationship with the nobleman. It made me wonder about what Tirso knew about court politics and perhaps homosexual relationships there.
LA GUARDA CUIDADOSA, a play by Miguel Sánchez "el divino" who was greatly admired by a young Lope de Vega and with good reason. The play is a fascinating, although novelistic, story about love and hunting. I found the realism, and the reality with which a true love is portrayed, very interesting, but even more so was the manner in which the young lady managed to put the princely lecher in his place. Contrary to convention, she just tells him off openly and in public. His attempt to get even with her backfires just as in many of the novellas of the time. Sánchez's verse leaves something to be desired, but his plot development does not.
A recent visit to Tucson by a colleague and a question that was raised in conversation resulted in my readying the text of a new play to add to our collections. I had thought it might prove of interest, but now that I have re-read it while working with it, I am absolutely sure of it. The play is Cristobal de Virués's LA GRAN SEMÍRAMIS. I found that there are theoretical implications in the presentation for those interested in the development of the comedia in the late 16th century, but even more his presentation of this thoroughly evil woman is fascinating. The first act sets the stage for her later depravity showing why she became what she was, the second pictures the depth of that depravity as she orders the death of her husband, sets out to take on her many lovers (Shades of Catherine the Great!), and imprisons her effeminate son in the temple with the vestal virgins (dressing him as a female) while she dresses as a man to take over the Assyrian empire. The third act shows her attempts to seduce her own son, her frustration when he refuses, and her death at his hands. But most fascinating is the fact that the courtiers (Zelabo and Diarco), in the full knowledge of what has been done and her evil nature, continue to appreciate her great works and refuse to condemn her completely. This, in contrast to the fawning over first one and then another ruler by the usual toadies as court. Her son, as he takes over the reign, proves to be every bit as hypoccritical, lying, and dangerous as she. Fun and games!
The editing and uploading of Virués's LA GRAN SEMÍRAMIS led me to think what a wonderful opportunity to prepare and add Calderón's great diptych LA HIJA DE AIRE to our collection. What a contrast in styles. Not only did Calderón clean up the action but he made it fit into the artistic esthetic of his time two generations later. Took out all the juicy action and put it into expository speeches claimed to be court gossip.
Three texts by Juan Ruiz de Alarcón: EL EXAMEN DE MARIDOS (always of interest for its influence on playwrites of all periods and countries. LA INDUSTRIA Y LA SUERTE, which I found to be very interesting because of its close view of the intersection of the wealthy business class and impoverished noble society. MUDARSE POR MEJORARSE, a standard comedia de "enredo" but with one especially interesting moment when the "galán's" man enters in female disguise (to fool the other jealous lover's spies). When the "dama" asks him why he is in drag, he comments:
REDONDO: El mundo al revés se ha vuelto. CLARA: ¿Cómo, Redondo? REDONDO: ¿No ves que ya los hombres son hembros?and one play by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, EL AMOR ES MAS LABERINTO, an interesting piece built around music and dance especially in the second act (somewhat doubtfully attributed) in which she completely trivializes the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur by turning it into a standard "comedia de enredo." But it does contain some very nice moments as she studies the love relationships she develops in it.
LOS PECHOS PRIVILEGIADOS, a work that features a real "mujer varonil" named Jimena. I say real because she never dresses as a man but does play the role of protector. At one point, she saves her "child" by physically picking up the king and tossing him off stage! The work also studies the role of a real advisor to the king as opposed to a "toady."
LAS PAREDES OYEN, one of the standard moralistic works by Alarcón in which he attacks those who speak evil of others.
Thanks to the hard work and the generosity of our friend David Hildner at the University of Wisconsin, we have been able to add the text of Calderón's CON QUIEN VENGO VENGO, a play with marvelous scenes of role playing and the typical Calderonian "capa y espada" fun and games to our library. Besides, it has some of the best "comedia dentro de comedia" speeches I have ever noted.
Thanks to the generosity of Fulgencio Castañar Ramos (from Arenas de San Pedro), who sent the text upon which he has worked to hard via e-mail:
Montalbán--EL HIJO DEL SERAFÍN, San Pedro de Alcántara (Note the action in the second act in which there is an exorcism that may of interest to some, and also a passage in which the politics of King Sebastian's (of Portugal) incursion into Morocco is laid out in no uncertain terms.
Juan Ruiz de Alarcón--EL DUEÑO DE LAS ESTRELLAS (Alarcón comments on contemporary politics by setting his piece in ancient Crete. Also of interest is his presentation of a problem that can only be solved by the protagonist's suicide).
Tirso de Molina--EL MAYOR DESENGAÑO (Tirso's companion piece to the theological lessons of El Condenado por desconfiado and El burlador de Sevilla)
Guillén de Castro--EL CONDE ALARCOS (an interesting contrast to Mira de Amescua's approach to the same legend together with its wife murder plot).
Ruiz de Alarcón-- LA MANGANILLA DE MELILLA (It's the bad guys who expresses the view of women as chattel--in contrast to the good guy who has a different view. Also deal in an interesting fashion with the Moors)
Tirso de Molina- LA MEJOR ESPIGADERA (the biblical story of Ruth--with two mothers and a mother-in-law)
Tirso de Molina--LA FINGIDA ARCADIA (conjoining the Quijote and Lope's novel, in the form of a comedia. Lots of intertextual fun, literary commentary, and for those of you interested in "role playing" and metatheatrics!!!)
Ruiz de Alarcón- EL ANTICRISTO (a play of tramoyas and apocrypha).
LAS FERIAS DE MADRID, by Lope de Vega (for those of you interested in looking at a quite unusual play--lots of contemporary slang and odd situations.)
SANTA ROSA DE LIMA, by Agustín Moreto y Pedro Lanini (presented to us through the generosity of Ricardo Castells who prepared the textin word-processed form. This play is one of the few dealing with early Spanish America and, of course, one of its greatest heroines)
AND two plays presented by the always generous David Hildner who with these text continues his collaboration in our efforts:
AMADO Y ABORRECIDO, de Pedro Calderón (another of Calderón's works that reuses structures and situations found in earlier dramas by much lesser poets).
AMAR POR SEÑAS, de Tirso de Molina (a play with one of the most comical graciosos of his theater).
Guillén de Castro's EL NARCISO EN SU OPINIÓN, a very early "comedia de figurón" of the type that later gave rise to such plays as Moreto's El lindo don Diego to which this play can be compared. The play shows how the truth will out when the lady's and their lovers are honest about their desires. It also has one of the most interesting graciosos of the comedia world, one who deliberately does his silly "master" in and gets away with it.
BRIANDA: Apenas tiene plumas el avecilla, cuando pone en los vientos el cuidado; el más menudo pez del mar salado suele atraverse a su arenosa orilla. Deja el monte la tierna cervatilla, y aunque con su peligro, pace el prado, las utiles defensas del ganado, pierde tal vez la mansa corderilla. Sube al aire la tierra mas pesada, sale de madre el mas pequeno río, el cobarde mayor saca la espada; la menor esperanza finge brío, ¿y solamente la mujer honrada tiene sin libertad el albedrío!
Calderón's EL MÁGICO PRODIGIOSO, an extremely didactic work that reminded me in many ways of THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER with a very theological touch and a little sexual tension thrown in for good measure. Calderón's approach to the Faustus legend, but very counterreformational.
Calderón's EL CASTILLO DE LINDABRIDIS, thanks to the work of David Hildner who has so kindly forwarded the text to me for coding. This play deals with the chivalric world-one of the few plays to treat the subject. Magic, music, and a gracioso names Malandrín, liven up this work that features not only a "mujer vestida de hombre" but a "mujer vestida de hombre disfrazada en vestida de mujer." In many ways this play reminded me of the comedias by Sor Juana Inés. So much so that I wondered if she knew the work.
Tirso de Molina's LOS LAGOS DE SAN VICENTE, another of Tirso's religio-didactic plays. In this one, the Moorish princess, Casilda, is converted to Christianity (she gives a long sermon reviewing major points of Catholic dogma) and her rise to sainthood. Of particular interest to me were the rustic types who actions reflect those of the main characters and their use of the sayagués stage dialect.
LOS ESPAÑOLES EN CHILE, by Francisco Gonzalez de Bustos. As I transferred the text to HTML, I took the time to read the play carefully and found it to be quite interesting. The play, which seems to have been performed in Spain throughout the eighteenth century, provides us with an interesting "mujer vestida de hombre" theme in addition to the battle between the Spanish and the Indian inhabitants of Chile. One interesting note to the cross-dressing was that in this case the "mujer varonil" is forced, by an interesting stratagem, to disguise "himself" as a woman--a double-cross-dressing! Any who are interested in this can consult the play at our web-site.
AMOR, INGENIO Y MUJER, by Antonio Mira de Amescua. I had forgotten how interesting this play was until I started coding it for HTML. Another example of the "mujer vestida de hombre," but with a vengeful difference. In this play, the Infanta has been raised as a male and her true sex has been hidden from all except her father. At one point, her father assures himself that his "son" feels no sexual attraction to the men at court, and advises "him" to court the ladies. Later scenes utilizing the dramatic irony involved revolve around the consequences os such cross-dressing and gender confusion. Shades of Mira's LA FÉNIX DE SALAMANCA (q.v.)! In addition, the work contains some of the heaviest satire of the medical profession I remember reading and some interesting behind-the-scenes power play by the women of the play.
EXAMINARSE DE REY, by Antonio Mira de Amescua, in which Mira again utilizes the related historical background of the Neapolitan connection he worked with in AMOR, INGENIO, Y MUJER and other plays. The play interested me principally for the use of a comic sonnet in the third act and Mira's use of a "décima" format that he later developed in other plays as a formulaic model that in turn, seems to have influenced his younger friend Pedro Calderón. The play deals with the problem of the Sicilian succession and the abrogation of the Salic law. The lady does have a choice and that is to be a woman not a man. Cross dressing does not make her male, especially when she loves a Spaniard. Although this play was supposedly published in the form of one or more "suelta" editions, I have not been able to locate any and, as far as I know, this is the first edition of the work anywhere. If any of you know of one, I would be happy to know of it.
Quiñones de Benavente's entremés LOS MUERTOS VIVOS, the basic electronic text of which was generously provided by Abraham Madronal of the Real Academia Espanola. He sent along two other entremeses that will be provided at this site as soon as possible. This hilarious piece certainly foreshadows the humor of the three stooges or even Abbot and Costello.
Fernando de Zárate's (or is it Antonio Enríquez Gómez? Peace you partisans!) LA CONQUISTA DE MÉXICO. A piece which, as I read it, convinced me that we need to search and find a good Spanish equivalent for the English word "pageant" since this really defines its genre. The work is definitely not a real drama, but it is indeed theatrical. The basic electronic text for this work was again generously provided by someone other than myself, James T. Abraham.
Five more of the comedias from my collection of texts by Antonio Mira de Amescua (Certainly not his best, but those are already loaded):
His early play on the "Faustus" theme with touches of "El curioso impertinente," EL AMPARO DE LOS HOMBRES.
A play dealing with the historical king, Don Sancho el Bravo (without the Cid) EL CABALLERO SIN NOMBRE. This play has one of the most interesting "heroic" graciosos I have encountered along with one of the strangest elopement stories you can imagine.
A play that is probably one of the very first the poet wrote, LA CONFUSIÓN DE HUNGRÍA. An interesting aspect of this work is its use of a signature element of many early works by Mira--the "voces del cielo" or klednomancy that is employed in such plays as "El arpa de David" and "La casa del tahur". He sets a doubled stage for the scene with one action revolving about a "gambling" scene and the other with a soliloquizing figure. The comments of the gamblers speak to the thoughts of the other.
A comedia complete with two "bailes" and a "loa" (Que las mujeres son diablos!) that will certainly interest those who are dealing with women in literature, LAS DESGRACIAS DEL REY DON ALFONSO EL CASTO. It appears that his sister is anything but. Note: another mother! This one not only has hidden her pregnancy but actively enlists the aid and sympathy of other ladies from the court in keeping the secret. And again there is use of the "voces del cielo" gambit in this very early play (documented before 1613).There is also an interesting scene of a "dead man talking."
What is probably the most frequently taught entremes, Cervantes' EL RETABLO DE LAS MARAVILLAS, a work that reminds us that we are all "ex illis".
One of the most accessible of the "autos sacramentales" of the Golden Age, one I always found the easiest from which to approach the genre when trying to introduce undergraduate students to the mysteries (Oops! Almost wrote myseries!) of that form: Tirso de Molina's EL COLMENERO DIVINO, in which major beliefs of the Church are laid out not only in allegory but in readily comprehended metaphor. The gracioso even describes the hive-destroying bear: "Es un diablo de un oso!"
Some more of the texts from our collection of the "comedias completas" of Antonio Mira de Amescua. This is something that is found in no other single library.
GALÁN, VALIENTE Y DISCRETO, a play on the popular "examen de maridos" theme. The play is highly poetic and really shows the influence of the "cultos" on the theatrical language of the time. It is definitely one of the very last plays written by the poet since it quotes directly a sonnet written by his much younger friend Pedro Calderón in 1629. It also contains one of those sets of "décimas" setting the pattern employed by Calderón for Segismundo's first-act soliloquy.
LA HIJA DE CARLOS QUINTO, a play that may or may not be by Mira but which has always been attributed to him. It is most certainly not a drama but is, instead, in the nature of a pageant: the cast is large, there is no real central conflict, the subject matter is episodic and represents disperse scenes intended to educate or to arouse patriotic or religious feelings in the public to which it is presented.
LA JUDÍA DE TOLEDO, another play, like the above, with an episodic structure and a heroine at its center. The poetic materials in this play are much better than in the HIJA play above.
LAS LISES DE FRANCIA, the play deals with the conversion of the visigoths. But this very early play, one of the first written by the poet, is interesting for its treatment of the "mujer varonil". The lady not only dresses like a man, she becomes a warrior general (There are in fact two such among the leading women's roles) who lead the soldiers into battle. The lady actively pursues a man, there are scenes underscoring the gender uncertainty, and she actually "dishonors" him. Also of note is the use of the "voces del cielo" technique. In one instance it is used in reverse, in another it is given the name when one of the characters says, "Voces de los cielos son." The play is also interesting because it develops further the concept of betrayal by a vassal overcome with the beauty of the King's fiancee , a topic at the heart of the even earlier "LA CONFUSIÓN DE HUNGRÍA."
LO QUE NO ES CASARSE A GUSTO, the only "wife-murder" play that can be attributed to Mira de Amescua, and as might be expected, one with a quite unusual flavor. It does follow the rule that says a play beginning with a marriage must turn into a work dealing with honor, but in this work both miscreants die a bloody death, one at the hands of the aggrieved husband, the other at the hand of his own brother the King. And, there can be no doubt about the transgression since the husband is witness to the birth of the proof as he returns after more than a year's absence. An absence caused by being kidnapped on the orders of the miscreants.
LO QUE PUEDE EL OÍR MISA, a strange combination of courtly love and mundane affairs (including a bride who abandons her husband on their wedding night, to go off with her "true love") and a religious topic. In this play, related in some aspect to the much earlier work EL AMPARO DE LOS HOMBRES, the heroic soldier is aided by an Angel when his regular devotion of hearing daily mass interferes with his duty.
LO QUE PUEDE UNA SOSPECHA, a comedia that can only be explained as a spoof of the entire "capa y espada" genre. It has to be read to be believed, and even then you can't be sure. Neither are the actors. Even the "gracioso" knows he is playing to a specific audience as in the first act, he asks the "galán" to pass on the complete details of his latest amorous adventure because we all, "mosqueteros" and others, are waiting to hear what happened.
Another one of the standard pieces of early theater, the very beginning: AUTO DE LOS REYES MAGOS
EL PRINCIPE CONSTANTE, by Calderón de la Barca. A standard work that belongs in the general canon, but one that is still in need of a complete "critical edition." The problems of honor and a constant faith are at the heart of this marvelous work.
LA QUINTA DE FLORENCIA, by Lope de Vega. Thanks to the generosity of Debra C. Ames who donated the text of this interesting play which she had prepared in WordPerfect 5.1, we have been able to add the play to our e-library. The play is a very interesting example of a very early Lopean text (written about 1599) and a tentative approach to a subject that would arise again and again in the poet's later theater--the question of peasant honor and the "doit de seigneur." As I worked with the text, I was fascinated by many elements in it. One of them was the miller-father's response to the situation when the lust-struck "nobleman" and his henchmen abducted his beautiful daughter. Another was the Duke's warning to that gentleman as he ordered death or marriage to the peasant as punishment--he says literally, "I will be keeping my eye on you and if there is any mistreatment of the lady, it will cost you your head." There is no "and they lived happily ever after" here.
The last of my collection of Mira de Amescua's "comedias". We could say that we have them all now, but as is shown in a recent article by German Vega García-Luengos in MIRA DE AMESCUA EN CANDELERO I (Granada: Univ. de Granada, 1996), at least one previously unknown work does still exist. Still others may be found!
OBLIGAR CONTRA SU SANGRE, a work in which the poet brings the conflict between love and honor (a debt he openly owes to the legend of the Cid) to bear on the consequences of the legend of the murder of LA JUDÍA DE TOLEDO. In this play, the resolution of that conflict and need for vengeance is brought about by the twin victories of reason and a woman with a pistol in hand.
LOS PRODIGIOS DE LA VARA Y CAPITAN DE ISRAEL deals with the Exodus and the Biblical stories of Moses' life up to the escape from the Red Sea. I found certain elements of interest, particularly the changes and cuts the poet made in order to make the play more manageable. But then he added certain elements also, evidently to provide dramatic motivation. I had never heard that Moses headed an Egyptian foray into Ethiopia or that he had married and later repudiated the Ethiopian queen. Then, too, I enjoyed the stratagem he employed to escape the poisonous snakes when he attacked by land (he caged and carried with him storks to eat the asps [Pliny?]). Another minor point of interest is the scene in which the gracioso--to save his skin of course--plays the role of a lady in the balcony at night.
LA VIDA Y MUERTE DE LA MONJA DE PORTUGAL, a work dealing with the salvation of a well-known nun at the time of the Spanish armada's loss. She is quite a worldly woman who, because of a close call with death, joins the Dominican nuns and delights in the attention her false piety brings her. She even fakes the stigmata and, as a result, is imprisoned by the Inquisition. Because she becomes truly penitent, she is miraculously saved just when appearances are at their worst. Her superior has caught her with two men in her cell! Not a great play, but it has its moments.
Cervantes's LA NUMANCIA. This is probably the quintessencial pageant in all Spanish literature: numerous characters, but none developed dramatically, lots of action, a topic aimed at arousing a sense of patriotic or religious fervor. As a consequence of the nature of this work as spectacle rather than drama, you might note the relative complexity of the stage directions, the importance of the allegorical figures on stage, and--because there is very little interest in the inner workings of the persons speaking-- there is a complete absence of "asides" ("apartes") in the text.
More from the collection of Mira de Amescua's complete dramas:
LA MESONERA DEL CIELO Y HERMITAÑO GALAÁN, a play that should be read by every scholar if only because of the action that sets it in contraposition to Tirso's EL CONDENADO POR DESCONFIADO, and the verse that betrays the close relationship between the poet Mira de Amescua and his friend Calderón de la Barca. In addition, the play contains shockingly frank scenes dealing with prostitution--unique, I believe, in the "comedia" of the time. It also portrays, in a suprising manner, the problem of both female sexual desire and sexual desire in the celibate male.
NARDO ANTONIO, BANDOLERO, a play that may, indeed, have been written by Mira de Amescua as witnessed by a manuscript, now missing, that was reported to have been in the hands of Amella, an "autor" of the period, in 1628. The play has incorrectly been classified with the genre of "bandolero" plays. It deals, instead, with insurrection. There are some interesting features that some may be interested in seeing: A series of mother-in-law jokes (How to make the community a better place) that is used to underscore the primary plot, and a "mujer varonil" who joins the battle, but definitely NOT "vestida de hombre."
EL NEGRO DEL MEJOR AMO, a hagiographic work dealing with the conversion and deeds of San Benito de Palermo, whose Islamic name was Rosambuco. The hagiography plays opposite a more or less standard "capa y espada" plot, one in which two women work together to resolve their various love problems. Also of interest here, is the "black" role. According to the tale, Rosambuco, was of Ethiopian ancestry, became a Corsair, and finally a slave to Pedro Portocarrero. This work, consequently, belongs among those of the period that may have been written for a black actor who seems to have played major roles in several acting companies. There are several such among the comedias (El valiente negro en Flandes and Juan Latino, etc,) that seem to have been prepared especially to showcase the talents of a specific actor. Other items of interest include a scene in which a letter is dictated to another and one of exorcism (Shades of the EXORCIST!). The victim, a black slave who speaks only dialect, is possessed and one element of that possession is her sudden acquisition of standard Spanish! Although this work is far from Mira's best plays, it is a gigantic step ahead of the monstrosity by Lope de Vega on the same theme.
NO HAY BURLAS CON LAS MUJERES is an interesting play, with much delightful and some hilarious poetry. The lady in this work is far from varonil but shoots the "bum" that raped her and ruined her reputation. There is lots of true love, jealousy and suspicion in between. There is also a trouble-making gracioso whose description of the "bum" is gross but quite comic and ties the gracioso to what might be (have been) the thoughts of many a servant to the "upper crust."
EL VIEJO CELOSO, a popular entremés by Miguel de Cervantes, and one of the basic works of the Spanish Golden Age "teatro menor." The very heart of the fun in this short piece lies in the technique of deceiving through the truth--the Jesuitic lie.
EL VILLANO EN SU RINCÓN, a very popular work by the great master himself, Lope de Vega. Naturally, because of the irregularities in noble behavior being dealt with here, the work is set in a foreign clime--this time France. You know those French! But the modalities of behavior at the heart of this marvelous work are clearly Spanish (...que no es cortesía / ni el alabar ni el mirar / lo que el dueño no ha de dar.) From my point of view, this would be a marvelous work from which to approach the question of the "otherness."
LA DAMA DUENDE, by Calderón, one of the great canonical works of the comedia and one that contains marvelous passages that are real "cuadros de costumbres" that were written long before the Romantics inserted them into their nineteenth-century pieces. If you are interested in how people really lived, this play among many others gives spirited "snapshots" from the seventeenth-century. All this in addition to being a good story and companion piece to the author's EL GALÁN FANTASMA.
The new text, as promised, is Luis de Belmonte Bermúdez's EL DIABLO PREDICADOR. This is a fascinating "comedia de tramoya"--lots of angels and devils flying in from the other world and sinners sinking into Hell. Still the work is one full of irony, humor, and human interest. Try it, you'll like it. In my opinion it is one of those extra-canonical works that has been shamefully neglected, one that any theatrical company could have a good deal of fun with, and one that could not fail to interest a modern audience as I am sure it did in its own time. Especially so, given the recent interest in things angelic--witness the number of angels for sale in gift shops everywhere as well as in recent sit-coms.
Hefty Fray Antolín has snuck off, trying to find a safe place in which to enjoy the extra food he has hidden in the sleeves of his habit. Luzbel, in the guise of a fellow friar catches him at it, but--a la Chip Wilson,-- Antolin protests, "me engaña el demonio." Luzbel responds:
....Miente; su flaqueza es quien le engaña. ¿Hate propuesto el demonio alguna vez, entre tantas, que la gula no es pecado?
To this Antolin's response is classic:
No, pero gula se llama comer sin gana, y a mí jamas me faltó la gana.
The fun becomes even more transcendant as Luzbel forces Antolín to disgorge his goodies and distribute them to the poor. When one of the "pobres" protests that he has six children and a sickly wife at home, Antolin wants to know--"Si de esa suerte procrea, /¿quien a sustentarlos basta?" This entire scene near the end of Act II would certainly have tickled even more funny bones among the "mosqueteros" than it would today, but it is worth a look.
In addition to updating and correcting the earlier version of Tirso de Molina's LOS BALCONES DE MADRID, I have prepared and loaded the "refundición" form of the work. This is the form of the play that was the basis for the translation of the play that is also found in the collection. So we now have three entries for the BALCONES. A comparison of the two texts shows clearly why the reworked form of the play is the one that has been most often performed and was the most often published in spite of the fact that it is a far weaker and less interesting text. It is shorter, scatology has replaced verbal wit, and there is more direct action rather than the perspectivistic presentation of the original. Check these plays out. I am sure that there are several good papers there and plenty of proof for the priority of the "culto" version, for the use of a "memorion" text as the basis for the reworking, etc. The first, an longer, version is certainly a more theatrical play and the text as a whole gives us one of the merriest love-chases of the Golden Age. In the process, I have updated and corrected the first text as well.
Two more important texts have been added to our e-library. I have uploaded the text of Tirso de Molina's EL VERGONZOSO EN PALACIO. Because the play is so long, it is located in 10, rather than the usual 9 files but you can still download it easily for your use. The play is a fascinating one because of the sensuality that pervades the text. I have always wondered if one of the reasons that Tirso was ordered by the "junta de reformación" not to write any more plays was because he had just published this text (written many years earlier) in the CIGARRALES DE TOLEDO. If so, the problem is interesting because the play was obviously re-edited with an eye to a reading, rather than a theatrical, public.
The other work has been made available to all of us through the hard work and generosity of David Hildner, Tirso de Molina's AVERÍGÜELO VARGAS. Just as in the VERGONZOSO, Two ladies invite gentlemen named DON DIONÍS to spend the night with them in their chambers under the assumption of an upcoming marriage. When they announce this fact to the court the next morning, their actions are approved and the marriages confirmed. The lady who has unwittingly invited the wrong man into her bed manages to avoid the problem of incest by doing so!
In the VERGONZOSO, Serfina the haughty, masculine sister falls in love with her own portrait which was prepared on the commission of Don Antonio. Don Antonio loves Serafina but, when she is told that the subject of the portrait is Don Dionis, she will have no other. In the dark of her balcony, she invites "Don Dionis" to share her bed. Her sister Magdalena, in love with her secretary Mireno, invites him to share her bed. The next morning, just as the King, their father, is about to announce their marriages to other noblemen, both girls claim to be already married and offer as proof the presence of Don Dionis in their respective locked rooms. All is resolved when the father accepts their choice since Don Antonio is a good substitute for the otherwise nearly unmaneageable Serafina, and Mireno is, in truth, discovered to be Don Dionis de Portugal. Thus one girl is married to Don Dionis by choice; the other, by error, is married to a worthy substitute. This identical action is at the base of the play AVERÍGÜELO VARGAS.
Tirso's ESCARMIENTOS PARA EL CUERDO is a play about the Portuguese in the East Indies. Some interesting elements are an apology by the lover who has abandoned his mistress once, but then does it again. How do you handle two wives in a bigamous marriage? A shipwreck on the east coast of Africa and adventures with the "cannibals" who in some ways act as the comic relief (i.e., a discussion of the flavor of white meat!). The real need for several black actors if the play is to be performed. A gracioso who is one of the most humorous of Tirso's theater. And two heroic women who lead the stumblebum they are married to. Both the women have mothered a child by the creep so here we have a play with two mothers, both heroic--certainly not comic.
Tirso's REPUBLICA AL REVES that is an interesting play about the middle Byzantine Empire. Here all the men are louses excpet for the shepherd Tarso who is the hero of the work--the only decently human male in the cast. The play features three women, one who is a model of virtue, another an outright whore, and the third the powerful Empress who takes over after ordering her son's eyes burned out. The play is replete with not-so-merry bedhopping, a cross-dressing man (to save the lady's life and in doing so he has to suffer the amorous advances of another man), treachery with bodies falling like flies, Serial marriage proposed as a solution for the ills of man, Macchiavellian political thought, and in the end the women rule the world.
Tirso's EL AQUILES, a play in which Tirso deals with the first stages of the Trojan wars that is noteworthy for the pusilanimous creatures that people the text. Aquiles himself is dressed as a woman, even though he fears that it might result in "un torpe amor." Problems of sexual identity, crossdressing, and the homosexuality underlying the story line, make this an interesting study even if the play (as a play) is not only weak but truncate.
QUIEN NO CAE NO SE LEVANTA. The early critics all thought this piece was best in the scenes of the first half when the protagonist was being a "bad" girl. (Margarita, the "dama" of the play, makes clear that although she has enjoyed sex with Valerio, she wouldn't think of marrying him. She even sets out to seduce a married man in order to find out ifhe is any better at it than her single lover. I was certainly surprised at the open nature of her disobedience and lust for life. Just as interesting is the reasoning of the father who lets her get by with it if only she will promise never to enter the convent. All of this, of course, before she reforms to follow the saintly path. Interesting also is that, if the stage direction in this work are to be believed, we have proof that white actors did play, in "black face," at least in this instance (Salen LELIO y BRITON... tiznados como negros.")
LA VIDA DE HERODES, an interesting work, but long! It seems to provide an explanation, if not an apology, for the actions of Herod in killing all those Innocents. The Christmas motif only appears in Act III, the other two acts detail Herod's rise to power under the Romans and his stuggles with his family. I was fascinated by the foreshadowing of the slaughter in Herod's opening tale of his exploits that seemed to be pointing to his heroic deeds.
LA DAMA DEL OLIVAR, has some remarkable passages. In Act I for example, the shepherd Niso describes his daughter to an appointed suitor in what can only be realized as a satire of the Petarchan conceit. He begins at the top but not stopping at the bosom, goes all the way to the bottom. At the basis this play deals with a Mercedarian legend, but along the way the peasant girl, Laurencia, is kidnapped and raped by the evil noble and the villagers rise to seek vengeance, (Shades of Fuenteovejuna!) but there is a different solution. Still, this Laurencia, too, has her harangue attacking the villagers as "chickens." The most disturbing apect of this play about a religious legend is the quite grotesque contrast of the religious and the profane, especially the use of the religious "gloss" of the "Ave" and the "Salve."
AY, VERDADES, QUE EN AMOR... is a standard Lope de Vega work of the type I like to speak of as a "merry chase". Merry because we all know that in the end the young couple will get together. Of interest because in this work we again see the theme of "El desden con el desden" but this time from a Lopean perspective. Less mysoginistic and more with an understanding and appreciation for the woman's point of view.
EL ESCONDIDO Y LA TAPADA. The quintessential Calderonian "comedia de capa y espada"- Shades of "La dama duende" "El galan fantasma" and "Casa con dos puertas mala es de guardar." The work is beautifully worked and has some wonderfully poetic passages along the way. It also features an "hombre vestido de mujer" (In order to escaped the situation, he steals the maid's clothing, is mistaken for a "lady" etc. (Cf. Sor Juana's "Los empennos de una casa."
LA SANTA JUANA, PRIMERA PARTE. This play has some interesting costumbrista scenes in all acts. An interesting aspect is that in this work, a "mujer vestida de hombre" runs off to join convent. Another is that in the third act, there is an exorcism scene out of the middle ages.
LA SANTA JUANA, SEGUNDA PARTE and LA SANTA JUANA, TERCERA PARTE. These two plays are most interesting for their thematic relationships, the "parte segunda" with the "Don Juan" theme and the "parte tercera" for a thematic repetition (if this weren't the Golden Age, one might say open plagiarism) of Lope de Vega's "Fuenteovejuna".
All three plays are of interest also since they are the only works by Tirso that we have in which the text can be based on autograph materials.
Again, a text has been generously prepared and supplied by David Hilder. This time is it Lope de Vega's LOS TELLOS DE MENESES, PART 1. As he described it--
The work has many affinities with "El villano en su rincón" because at the end, the King goes to visit the "labrador", not because the latter refuses to leave his village, but because he considers himself unworthy. It also ends with an Infanta marrying the son of a "labrador rico". Enjoy!
I might add that, like the "labrador's" sons, as in EL VILLANO... and in Calderon's EL ALCALDE DE..., this son is something of a social climber. And the "Infanta" of the piece, runs away from home to avoid what she feels is an unsatisfactory marriage that has been arranged for political reasons. Interestingly, it the Infanta herself, not her lover, who publicly claims the marriage with Tello, the younger.
Tirso's EL CABALLERO DE LA GRACIA, another of Tirso's plays about, Jacobo (El caballero de Gracia), a man who prefers the religious life, anything, to the prospect of marriage. It seems that the action of this play is related to that of at least two others: Character names parallel those in LA ELECCIÓN POR LA VIRTUD part of the action and several passages are taken verbatim from his SANTO Y SASTRE (The opening scenes of EL CABALLERO and scenes from the second act of SANTO Y SASTRE), especially those in which the saintly character is meeting, for the first time, the lady his family wants him to marry. His reaction is "look but don't touch."
The latest text added to our collection is another of Tirso de Molina's comedias, LA ROMERA DE SANTIAGO. The play is noteworthy as a historical play about the medieval king, Ordoño II of León and his relationship with the Conde de Castilla. (tenth-eleventh century). And shades of the legend of "el rey don Rodrigo", The play centers around the rape of a noble Castillian lady, this time by the "privado" of king Ordoño shortly after the marriage of the "privado" to the Infanta of León, Ordoño's sister. There is an interesting "gracioso," Reloj, with many puns centering on his name. At the end the two opposing noble ladies, following the honor code for men, challenge each other to an armed duel.
Again, thanks to the work of David Hildner, we are able to add another text, that of Calderon's LUIS PEREZ EL GALLEGO. David writes that this is "Not his best play, but it's interesting because of the semi-"bandolero" status that Luis Pérez is forced to adopt in the second half of the play. The play also has an interesting "gracioso" whose insoluble link to his master is that the latter has a great grudge against the servant and has sworn to kill him, a sentence not carried out at the end. Enjoy!" I would add that, in this play too, the ladies become almost manly in that they would enter into the fray physically and armed. My own problem with the play lies in the fact that at least three of the "gentlemen" are guilty of outright murder and not only help each other evade the justice system, but actually believe that what they have done is morally acceptable.
EL COBARDE MÁS VALIENTE. This badly butchered text, one that is very short and shows evidence of many missing verses and entire passages, deals with El Cid and the conquest of Valencia-- Among the interesting themes treated in this work is the homosexuality of the Moorish King and his desire for the "mujer vestida de hombre" as dicussed by the gracioso, Botija in and extensive passage found in Act III.
LA NINFA DEL CIELO, a comedia about a santa bandolera. It is interesting because in this play, a married man (The Duke of Calabria) seduces a noblewoman (The Duchess of Valdeflor), who then becomes a "bandolera" in order to achieve vengeance. This in spite of the fact that she recognizes that it was her sexual desire for him that opened the way for her seduction. When she encounters the Duke a second time she again falls for his line and lets him off when he promises to kill his wife, a wife who has been on to his infidelity for some time. It is this recognition of her fault, if only in part, that leads her to repentance and eventual salvation. Once she is dead, he returns happily to his wife.
EL HONROSO ATREVIMIENTO, a play about some Venitian slime! Two brothers want the same married woman and the younger is pleased when the elder is killed by her husband not only because it leaves the field open to him but because he will now inherit the power and wealth. This same brother is the object of the affections of the wronged couple's daughter. After many difficulties and much ill fortune, the daughter succeeds in trapping the young man into marriage and all is resolved. Most interesting in this work is the fact that the husband and wife are completely faithful to each other in word and deed, never doubt each other's love, and the "gracioso" servant who begins as a typical self-serving and cowardly servant turns out to be the one true friend and brave support for the wronged husband. He is duly rewarded for this service.
HABLADME EN ENTRANDO, a play in which mistaken identities keeps the ball rolling. A brother returns unexpectedly to rescue his sister from the evil intentions of another, kills him and they are forced to flee the certain revenge. In their flight, they encounter their father who has been presumed dead for many years. The father, for one reason or another cannot tell them who they are, even though he has been appointed to govern in Oviedo. The father accepts responsibility for his daughter leaving the son free to run. They all meet at the farm of a wealthy labrador whose sone and daughter immediately fall in love with both the daughter and the son. Planned elopements go awry, the avenger arrives.. etc. before all is resolved with multiple marriages being arranged. The heroic family here is Hurtado de Mendoza.
Thanks to the efforts and generosity of Ezra Engling, we have now been able to add to our library the text of Calderon's LA AURORA EN COPACABANA. The play is a fascinating one because of the subject matter, the conquest and Christianization of Peru. Rather than a "comedia" I believe this work to represent a pageant (too many characters, several storylines, large masses of troops, miraculous appearances, sudden conversions, etc. In spite of the xenophobic nature of the comedia when it deals with cultures other than counter-Reformational Spanish, you will find in the text many valuable insights into colonial life and customs and the interaction between the native and the Spanish cultures.
We have also added Tirso de Molina's LA JOYA DE LAS MONTAÑAS, a play in which, among other things, a lady of the court actually joins in on the field of battle against the Moors. The sadly incomplete text of this work was completed to some extent by Mesonero Romanos when he supplied the final few verses from a "refundicion". The play deal with the story of Santa Orosia, a Bohemian princess, who was captured by the Moors and martyred after crossing the Pyranees while on her way to an arranged marriage with Prince Fortunio of Aragon. There is little real drama in this "historical" work but several interesting and revealing passages.
And, we have also added another of Tirso's works, QUIEN DA LUEGO DA DOS VECES, a very unusual work in which the men are honorable and kind and the play revolves about one woman (una mujer vestida de hombre) lying and deceiving another to the point of driving her insane. The play begins with the main couple already married (in fact about to become parents) and, contrary to the normal expectation for such a situation, does NOT end in tragedy! The gentlemen not only accept the responsibility for caring for the infant (not their own) but rescue the lady in question and, even though she comes to live in their house, promise to be gentlemen in all matters (in spite of the sexual attraction between her and one of them. Also note, another mother!
Tirso de Molina, LAS QUINAS DE PORTUGAL deals with the retaking of Portugal from the Moorish occupiers. Even the cowardly gracioso learns to "kill the Moors." In fact, he becomes a principal actor in the action.
Tirso de Molina, BELLACO SOIS, GÓMEZ. In this work a "mujer vestida de hombre" comes in search of the husband who, after having married her by proxy, refuses to consummate the marriage because of (1) tales he has heard of a ficticious lover, (2) her reputation as a "mujer varonil" [she favors the hunt and learning], and (3) a "better" woman and closer relationship awaits. When she meets him she, disguised as a man, challenges and defeats him in a duel, leaving him for dead. The play has a ghost story, too, with hauntings enough to frighten anyone. A worthy companion piece for Don Gil de las calzas verdes. Here there are at least 5 claimants to the title of Don Gomez on stage in the final scene before all is resolved.
Tirso de Molina, three autos sacramentales:
LOS HERMANOS PARECIDOS (Christ and Mankind are the brothers, alike in many ways)
EL LABERINTO DE CRETA (with a description of exactly how Pasife managed, with the help of Daedalus, to get that bull to make love to her. A German adventurer comes to kill the Minotaur. The King of Ethiopia, too, comes to conquer the monster. MINOS, is the Devil himself.)
LA MADRINA DEL CIELO this interesting auto begins with the rape of Marcela abetted by an evil advisor. The play has, theologically, much to compare with El condenado por desconfiado. The gracioso even contains a paraody of Enrico's "confessions" in that play.
PALABRAS Y PLUMAS, a notably literary play. In the first act we find a very complete description of a "sortija amorosa" in which the gallants competed with emblems for the attention and aproval of their ladies. The play contains material that Calderon will later use in several works, notable his LA FIERA, EL RAYO Y LA PIEDRA. The theme is the constancy of the love of a Spaniard as opposed to the treachery of the Italians with whom he is connected. (It may haveonly been the mood I was in, but I found this play to be especially attractive with well delineated characters and a female role that makes precious use of dramatic irony. Also of interest to directors of theatrical companies is the fact that this play, unlike many comedias, has a fairly balanced cast, 3 major women's roles (no servants among them), 5 major male roles including a heroic and sympathetic gracioso, and only two other smaller roles.
EL PRETENDIENTE AL REVÉS: Wife swapping! The DUKE marries in spite of the fact that he is in love with SIRENA. Sirena is already married to CARLOS in secret since her father had placed her future in the hands of the Duke when he died. The DUCHESS is aware of this love and insists that Sirena be brought to the court so that she can keep an eye on the Duke and her. Carlos is jealous but Sirena believes that the safest place for her is the court. At the end of Act I there is a delicious scene in which the two women speak in double talk that supposedly only they can understand in agreeing to this arrangement; however, to make sure that the audience does not miss the irony in their speech, the old ALCALDE, in an aside clarifies what is being said between the lines. In one scene of Act I, the hero Carlos even plays the role of "gracioso." Once the Duke has Sirena at the court, he persuades his wife to act as go-between to soften up Sirena and get her to give in to his desires. She apprently agrees, but then goes directly to Sirena and tells her what is up swearing to give him a dose of his own medicine by seducing Carlos, to which end she tries to blackmail Sirena to act as go-between.
December 29, 2000: I have just finished uploading the following texts to our e-library. (Remember that I was asked to preserve the notes that accompany these announcements. You will find them by clicking on the number following a each title for which one exists in the list of texts [English version only since the notes are in that language])
1. Tirso de Molina's EL CASTIGO DEL PENSÉQUE
To me the most intereesting parts of this text are not found in the plot lines but in some of the speeches that are made. For example, the Countess Dina was widowed a year before, but is not unhappy since the Duke to whom she had been married was "un hombre libre, soberbio, cruel." But even more interesting is her determination to remain unmarried because "cansada de estar casada estoy," and in charge "porque es locura el ser pies la que puede ser cabeza." Further she attacks the double standard "que en la ley de Dios iguales vengan a ser los delitos del marido y la esposa." Worst of all is the fact that here, on earth, the laws favor vengeance on the part of the wronged husband but not for the wronged wife. "Ésa es terrible crueldad, suficiente a deshacer a amor, que sin igualdad no sabe permanecer." If the Spaniard, Don Rodrigo Girón, had only been less hesitant and unsure he could have won her hand as he had her heart.
2. Calderón's LAS CADENAS DEL DEMONIO
Again thanks to the work and generosity of David Hildner we have the text of this interesting work. According to David, the interest lies in "Irene, a sort of female Segismundo, who has been locked in a tower all her life because of a prophecy, and Licanoro, an Armenian nobleman who, like Cipriano in "El mágico prodigioso", doubts the polytheism of his nation and seeks answers from the apostle Bartholomew. On the other hand, it has an inordinate number of "tramoyas" involving magic and miracles (the kind that used to drive the eighteenth-century critics wild)." I would add that this is, indeed, in more than a few ways, a feminine version of Segismundo combined with Faust! The parallels with LA VIDA ES SUEÑO are quite obvious. They include a gracioso Lirón (Shades of EL MÉDICO DE SU HONRA) who rather than make people laugh want to make them cry! In fact, after reading this work I found that many of the mysteries of LA VIDA ES SUEÑO can be understood by comparing it with this work that includes demonic possession and an exorcism.
Thanks to the hard work, generosity, and artistic sensibility of Matt Stroud, we are happy to announce that we have uploaded his translation of LA DAMA DUENDE (The Phantom Lady) as performed at Trinity University (2000) and it is now ready for your use.
In addition, the hard work and open generosity of Julio F. Hernando (Washington University-St. Louis) has made possible the addition of several Sixteenth-Century texts for your use. You will note that for these texts, I have not modernized the spelling, etc. since to do so would ruin the quality of Julio's scholarship in preparing these texts from the best possible sources. These are the complete plays of Hernando Lopez de Yanguas: FARSA DE LA CONOCORDIA (having to do with the signing of the peace treaty between Carlos V and the King of France); FARSA SACRAMENTAL (a Sacramental work that is clearly Renaissance in tone); FARSA DEL MUNDO (a piece written on theme "Haec est victoria quae vincit mundum, fides nostra"); FARSA DE LA NATIVIDAD (a Renaissance style "pastorela"); SEGUNDA EGLOGA DE LA NATIVIDAD (a poetization of the "begats" that led to the birth of Christ); FARSA TURQUESANA (a piece written about the letter of challenge written by the "Gran Turco" to Pope Clement VII, a letter written by the Pope to the Emperor Carlos V and his response.
Several works by Tirso de Molina:
QUIEN DA LUEGO DA DOS VECES (La segunda parte del Penseque). The play has an unusually gender balanced casting (five female and five male parts, plus a walk on or two). In this work, the over-hesitant gentleman finally learns his lesson and speaks up.
LA GALLEGA MARI-HERNÁNDEZ, is quite a readable work despite the occasional passages in Galician or Portuguese (at least Tirso's version of those languages). In it we again find a woman passing as a man and coming to the rescue of her faithless lover by killing his treacherous nemesis before attacking him. There is also an interesting scene in which the noble lady loses her cool and draws a dagger to attack her rival, Mari-Hernández. Mari-Hernández (shades of David and Goliath) protects herself with her shepherd's sling.
LA CELOSA DE SÍ MISMA, which is an interesting "comedia de enredo" where the "dama" runs the show, driving everyone nuts including herself with her constant pretense of being someone else, someone she is jealous of.
AMOR Y CELOS HACEN DISCRETOS, this is an interesting comedia in which the prevailing "culto" fashion is mocked. Again the "damas" run the show. Of note is that there is a very small cast, 2 principal women, three principal men, and two male bit parts. A real cat and mouse game!
AMAR POR RAZÓN DE ESTADO, another "comedia de enredo" with a very small and gender-balanced cast. In this play two women succeed in driving the men insane.
And, thanks again to the work of David Hildner, we have Lope de Vega's LOS TELLOS DE MENESES, SEGUNDA PARTE. David says, [The play] has less action (especially in Act III) than the "Parte I", but it may be useful for students of Lope's ideology of the "labrador rico" in relation to royalty.
and his DEL MONTE SALE QUIEN EL MONTE QUEMA, Thanks again to the generosity and labor of David Hildner who has provided so many texts for us. He says, "In some ways it repeats the conventional plot of the noblewoman hidden away and raised as a "labradora" or a servant (as in "La gitanilla" or "La ilustre fregona"), but it contains what may be the first female arsonist in Spanish literature. The protagonista Narcisa (what a great name!), out of sheer frustration that her love for the future Dauphin of France is thwarted at every step, actually runs out into the woods and sets fire to them! So Lope uses the refrán "Del monte sale..." in both a figurative and a literal sense.
EL CELOSO PRUDENTE. A wife-murder play where the wife doesn't get murdered! The lovers are all faithful as they should be. The work begins with a marriage and ends happily! Again the ladies manage it all, but this time with the help and connivance of their respective lovers. Sounds like no problem, right? But there is still the question of whether or not to burn the "unfaithful" wife! Actually the play is one of those Tirso was able to completely redact himself for inclusion in "Los ciagarrales de Toledo" along with "El vergonzoso en palacio" and shows all the same tendencies to make dramatic literature work within a prose context.
LA HUERTA DE JUAN FERNÁNDEZ. Another play with a small cast. Two women dressed in male attire join forces (each believing the other is male!), the gentlemen play the roles of servants and the servants of masters. In short this wonderful play is a metatheatrical tour-de-force in which playing the role of the moment becomes the center of the play. By the way, If I remember corrrectly, the actual Huerta de Juan Fernández was located diagonally across where the Cibeles fountain now stands from the site of the main Post Office in Madrid.
DEL ENEMIGO EL PRIMER CONSEJO, a play requiring few actors with a good enough technique to make the long narrative passages interesting to an audience. The problem is again one of the faithful lover whose mistress is quite disdainful. Only the threat of his imminent death bring about her change in heart. I have not often found, in Tirso, so many "sentencias" of a clearly misogynistic nature as are found in this play.
And one of my favorites, MARTA LA PIADOSA, a play that demonstrates the sensual soul of a woman going after what she wants and able to manipulate the men around her into giving it to her. This is a work badly in need of a good English translation.
Texto electrónico por Vern G. Williamsen
y J T Abraham
Formateo adicional por Matthew D. Stroud
Most recent update: 01 Jul 2002