Calderón: The Secular Plays

Copyright Date: 1982
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Although Pedro Calderón de la Barca was one of the greatest and most prolific playwrights of Spain's Golden Age, most of his nonallegoricalcomedias-- 118 in all -- have remained unknown. Robert ter Horst presents here the first full-length study of these works, a sustained, meditative analysis dealing with more than 80 plays, conveying a sense of the whole of Calderón's secular theater.

    To approach so vast a body of literature, Mr. ter Horst examines the meaning and function in Calderón of three broad subjects -- myth, honor, and history -- the warp threads across which the playwright weaves a subtle tapestry of contrasts, dualities, and conflicts: the private person versus the public person, the inner realm versus the outer, masculine against feminine, poet against prince.

    The Calderón who emerges is a consciously consummate artist whose lifelong study was the passions of the human mind and body. In addition, he is seen as a synthesizer of his Spanish literary heritage and especially as a brilliant adapter of Cervantes' insights to the stage. Robert ter Horst's profound and far-ranging analysis sheds light on many fine works previously neglected and finds new depths in such supreme achievements asNo hay cosa como callar, El segundo Escipión,andLa vida es suefio.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5882-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. 1-2)

    The purpose of this book is to bring, for the first time, a large number of Calderon’s non-allegorical plays under critical discussion so as to gain something of a sense of the whole of his drama. But theatre hardly is a discrete kind of literature. It draws considerable nourishment from companions in poetry and in prose fiction. I have accordingly tried to see Calderon’s drama in the context of its great Golden-Age congeners.

    The large number of these plays of itself poses an acute critical problem which neither the descriptive nor the representative method has been able to solve. I...

  5. PART I “AMOR ES GUERRA” La estatua de Prometeo as the Model of Calderonian Dramaturgy
    (pp. 3-68)

    Seventeen mythological plays by Don Pedro Calderón de la Barca survive.¹ Of the traditional classifications of Calderonian drama, this is the most nearly acceptable. Aside fromEl mayor encanto, amorandLos tres may ores prodigios,all belong to their author’s later years and are verse dramas in three acts in which music and spectacle have especially significant functions.El golfo de las sirenasandLa púpura de la rosa varythe pattern slightly by having only one act, whileEl laurel de Apolohas two. Every play conforms to Calderón’s high technical standards, but several clamor to be ranked...

  6. PART II THE IDIOMS OF SILENCE Cervantes, Honor, and No hay cosa como callar
    (pp. 69-170)

    Characters in Calderdn’scomediasmention other authors—Garcilaso and Boscán, Góngora, Mira de Amescua, Lope de Vega. But the writer most often alluded to is Cervantes. The following pages undertake to demonstrate that Calderon in his drama truly succeeds to the fictional inheritance of Cervantes. Of this Cervantine inheritance, the richest mass is a concept which has bedevilled the critics: honor. In dealing with honor, I put aside the traditional efforts to explain it in favor of a psychological approach. Cervantes’ great discovery was that honor communicatively yokes the male to the female and the female to the male. Consequently,...

  7. PART III POETIC PRINCIPALITIES The Private and the Public Person in Calderón
    (pp. 171-233)

    Two sovereign modes condition the rise and development of drama in Spain. In the first place there must be a personal mastery of circumstance, dominion over the outer world such as one finds in the Duke and Duchess of Alba when Juan del Enzina begins to write to and for them. Spanish theatre really begins at court. But service such as Enzina’s was grudging, not because the servitor was surly but rather because the conscious artist, in fashioning a private universe which he alone commands, inwardly establishes himself as the rival and peer of the lord of the outer world,...

  8. NOTES
    (pp. 234-250)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 251-256)