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Four Comedies by Pedro Calderón de la Barca

Four Comedies by Pedro Calderón de la Barca

Translated with an Introduction by KENNETH MUIR
With notes to the individual plays by Ann L. Mackenzie
Copyright Date: 1980
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Four Comedies by Pedro Calderón de la Barca
    Book Description:

    Calderón, the great dramatist of Spain's Golden Age, was a skilled writer of comedy. His serious dramas have long been highly regarded in the English-speaking world, but his many sparkling comedies are an untapped reservoir for the contemporary theater. The four plays in this volume, three of which appear in English for the first time, have been translated by Kenneth Muir, the noted British scholar and director.

    These are comedies of intrigue. They turn on mysterious, quarrels, and jealousies, and they abound in complication and misunderstandings, yet in the end all is explained, to the delight of the audience. Muir's long experience with acting and directing and his keen ear for the nuances of the English language, together with his perceptive critical scholarship, have enabled him to produce a text that actors can speak naturally, and that modern audiences can enjoy as did the audiences of seventeenth-century Spain. The graceful, poetical dialogue and the masterly stagecraft of Calderón are undiminished in these deft translations.

    The plays featured areFrom Bad to Worse, The Secret Spoken Aloud, The Worst is Not Always Certain,andThe Advantages and Disadvantages of a Name. Ann L. Mackenzie has provided an introduction to each play and notes on the text that will be useful to the actors and directors who seek to present these comedies as they were intended -- on the stage.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6375-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    These four plays, although excellent, are not positively Calderón’s best, but I decided to confine my efforts to the production of actable versions of comedies and to avoid any play that was already available in English.¹ Translators have fought shy of the comedies, although they comprised a third of Calderón’s huge output. Moreover, I could not see much chance of a revival of interest in the theatre or in churches of the autos — “flowery and starry” as Shelley called them² — for they need an audience of believers. It is true that there has been at least one successful modern production...

  5. From Bad to Worse
    (pp. 7-66)

    GOVERNOR: [Reading] “It is only to you, to you alone, my dear lord and friend that I would dare to confide freely the misfortune that crushes me, because even if you are not in a position to bring a remedy for it, I have at least the certainty that you will keenly sympathize with me. A gentleman (whose name the servant who brings this letter will disclose) has disappeared from this town, after having killed a man. He took with him a daughter of mine, who had been his accomplice, and who to this initial fault has added a second....

  6. The Secret Spoken Aloud
    (pp. 67-136)

    MUSICIANS: [Singing] Yes, heart, you have the right

    To sigh that plaintive strain;

    But yet, it is in vain –

    It cannot ease your plight.

    You loved in Reason’s spite,

    Why hope for love again?

    FLORA: [Singing] So many years have passed,

    Beholding but disdain,

    Feeling Denial’s pain –

    Are you not tired at last?

    Forget, forget the past:

    Your music is in vain.

    MUSICIANS: [Singing] You loved in Reason’s spite ;

    Why hope for love again?¹

    [The DUCHESS, ARNESTO, the LADIES and the MUSICIANS cross the stage and move away. FABIO eavesdrops on FEDERICO]

    FEDERICO: Since you have trusted me to...

  7. The Worst Is Not Always Certain
    (pp. 137-200)

    CARLOS: Have you delivered my letter?

    FABIO: Yes, señor.

    He seemed delighted and is coming promptly

    To seek you at your inn.

    CARLOS: And Leonor?

    Has she arisen?

    FABIO: No, she has not opened

    Her shutters yet.

    CARLOS: Knock at her door. I wish

    To acquaint her with the plans that I have made

    To assure her life and honor – less for her

    Than since I owe it to myself. Call her:

    It’s time that she awakened.

    [Enter LEONOR]

    LEONOR: Yes, Don Carlos

    You could talk if I were still asleep; But one like me who tastes the bitter bread...

  8. The Advantages & Disadvantages of a Name
    (pp. 201-278)

    FELIX: You’re very happy.

    CESAR: How should I not be so

    When I obtain today my utmost wishes?

    FELIX: How so?

    CESAR : I’ll tell you, Fglix. You know already, Since you’re my closest friend and we have but A single soul — you know how many cares, Vexations, pains, misfortunes have been caused By my unquenchable love for Violante, Since I attempted first with tears and sighs — Vain weapons of war — to breach those diamond walls, To break those rocks of steel, to penetrate Those mines of stone, and cross those fiery moats. One of my saddest memories, as you...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 279-290)
  10. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 291-293)