The Art of Humour in the Teatro Breve and Comedias of Calderón de la Barca

The Art of Humour in the Teatro Breve and Comedias of Calderón de la Barca

TED L. L. BERGMAN
Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 255
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt9qdn2f
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  • Book Info
    The Art of Humour in the Teatro Breve and Comedias of Calderón de la Barca
    Book Description:

    Contrary to popular belief, Pedro Calderón de la Barca had a sense of humour. This book examines the integral and often essential use of humour in his works, looking beyond his persistent reputation as a dour and dogmatic representative of the Spanish canon. Calderón's teatro breve (featuring mojigangas, entremeses and jácaras) thrives on comic techniques and situations that poke fun at everything and everybody, from aspiring nobility to people facing execution; and he parodies and satirizes genres and themes such as the auto sacramental or the infamous 'honour code'. His irreverence and desire for the audience's laughter are not just expressed in his teatro breve: the very same humorous techniques and situations, and even entire small works themselves, are found in his comedias, blurring and often eliminating the distinction between 'major' and 'minor' genres. Calderón proves that the 'complementary' teatro breve need not live a separate existence, and that its presence within the comedia itself offers untold opportunities for novelty, diversion and criticism. By turning jokes into a dramatic art form and vice versa, Calderón has much to teach us about the presence, role and functioning of humour in all of Spanish Golden Age theatre. TED L.L. BERGMAN is Professor of Spanish Language and Culture, Soka University of America.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-022-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-4)

    Studying the Spanish Golden Agecomediacan be a funny thing. Incomediacriticism, humour is often mentioned in passing, or in connection with the peculiarities of the genre, but humour as a topic itself rarely takes centrestage. If one mentions the name ‘Calderón’ to most modern readers and viewers of thecomedia, they may list several things that made him famous, but while they recite, rarely will you hear these people chuckle, snort or even mention anything related to humour. The number of articles and books written about Calderón de la Barca concerning honour, allegory or court spectacle far...

  4. 1 CALDERÓN AND THE MOJIGANGA
    (pp. 5-35)

    What is amojiganga? Also called afin de fiesta, which emphasises a constant function of the sub-genre,mojigangas¹ would be performed at the end of either acomediaorauto sacramental. They can be defined as a small dramatic piece meant to complement the larger one, something different to mark the end or to bring closure to an event.² The ‘fin’ aspect of the sub-genre thus remains clear, but ‘de fiesta’ is somewhat ambiguous, for it can be explained in two ways. ‘De fiesta’ can signify ‘pertaining to the celebration’, the celebration being the entire theatrical spectacle; but it...

  5. 2 CALDERÓN AND THE ENTREMÉS
    (pp. 36-77)

    El reloj y los genios de la ventais anentremésthat maintains a somewhat processional atmosphere, making it similar to manymojigangas, while its setting and characters also resemble those used by Spain’s famous satirist Francisco de Quevedo. Rodríguez and Tordera, along with Lobato, have observed howGeniosresembles Quevedo’s interludeLa venta,¹ and thus provides the opportunity to demonstrate the flexibility of theteatro brevein treating the same theme. Calderón’sEl reloj y los genios de la ventaopens with the stage directions: ‘Sale Pedro, mozo de mulas, muy guapo.’² Pedro has come to meet his lover...

  6. 3 CALDERÓN AND THE MOJIGANGA WITHIN THE COMEDIA
    (pp. 78-125)

    The best place to start examining theteatro breve’s presence in thecomediais thecomedia burlesca, its often-ignored counterpart.¹ While thecomedia burlescashares characteristics with theentremés, it is themojigangathat offers the best point of comparison because of its dramatic structure and overwhelmingly festive elements² (all of which take precedence over plot andburla, in the sense of an extended practical joke), which correspond to thecomedia burlesca’s negation of structuring narrative elements and utter lack of serious moments onstage. Both themojigangaand thecomedia burlescaare much more of a party than a story...

  7. 4 CALDERÓN AND THE ENTREMÉS WITHIN THE COMEDIA
    (pp. 126-184)

    The history of thegraciosohas been much studied and often debated. There is no question that this nearly indispensable stock figure is born from a number of definite literary precedents, yet how much influence each precedent exerts has always been a point of contention.¹ The issues of origins are likely never to be settled because, despite being a stock type, thegraciosofigure demonstrates amazing flexibility and variation in behaviour, and boasts a freedom of action and attitude that far exceeds any found in the other standard characters within thecomediagenre.² Nevertheless, critics still ascribe various attributes to...

  8. 5 CALDERÓN AND THE JÁCARA
    (pp. 185-200)

    Humour in thecomediaand theteatro brevealike allowed the theatre audiences of the time to escape the worries of the workaday world, and all its seriousness, by experiencing the soothing pleasure of a good laugh. The ridiculous processions of themojigangasrarely contained any inkling of a plot or deep exploration of character motivations. The essence of themojigangawas much less complicated than anything with a foundation in real-life mimesis. The logic behind its presentation was also simple: A figure dressed in a silly costume was funny, butmanyfigures dressed in silly costumes were evenfunnier....

  9. 6 CALDERÓN AND THE JÁCARA WITHIN THE COMEDIA
    (pp. 201-233)

    In chapter 3, we encountered two sungjácarasembedded within larger works, namelyCelos, aun del aire matanand its rough parody,Céfalo y Pocris. InCelos, an opera, Clarín sings ajácara, expressing his tough and streetwise demeanour in a musical way. The action takes place in a mythical place at a mythical time, and the jauntytonoof his song style (with its contemporary urban connotations) may seem out of place, but Clarín’s occasional taste for blood, generally disruptive behaviour and good humour give him dramatic licence to sing this type of song that fits his personality. In...

  10. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 234-236)

    Calderón de la Barca certainly had a sense of humour, along with most of his audience. Nevertheless, many unanswered questions remain concerning exactly why an audience may have laughed at certain moments. Psychologists have theorised much about why people laugh, tell jokes and the circumstances under which they feel they can or cannot do either of these. A psychological study, without attempting to plumb the depths of an abstract and/or collective unconscious, could still be valuable in discovering further unwritten rules (derived from behavioural observations) for telling jokes onstage. Such an investigation can also demonstrate how these rules may relate...

  11. SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 237-246)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 247-249)