Comedias del Siglo de Oro and Shakespeare
Why, one might ask, has an entire issue of the Bucknell Review been devoted to comparative studies of Shakespeare and seventeenth-century Spanish dramatists? Bruce W. Wardropper suggests that it is to provide "at once interpretations and a search for a method of criticism" - and perhaps to pique the reader's curiosity about Spanish drama of the Golden Age, which is relatively unknown. Walter Cohen posits "the shared formal, often generic, features of English and Spanish drama, in the absence of influence by one theatrical tradition upon the other." Three of the essays deal with comedy. William R. Blue examines the seriousness underlying the spirit of comedy and the carnivalesque, which in Shakespeare and Caldron are "escape valves for the tensions and frustrations of the period" and thus "emblematic of the desire for change and of the real resistance to it." Frederick A. de Armas takes up two plays that are pivotal in their presentation of the pastoral. In Lope de Vega's El ganso de oro, Arcadia must be abandoned and transformed, whereas Shakespeare sees in Arden "a place where the self can partake of the magic of creation." Susan L. Fischer also treats As You Like It, but in relation to Tirso de Molina's El vergonzoso en palacio. Both plays affirm marriage as an institution; yet the texts encourage the search for multiplicity of meaning, presenting a perspective on life and love that is multifariously conceived and continually modified or "deconstructed." Tragicomedy is the focus of Edward H/ Friedman's essay, which explores the way Lope de Vega and Rojas Zorilla deviate from the source material in creating their Spanish equivalents of Romeo and Juliet. Friedman analyzes the plays from a structural perspective in order "to illuminate the choices made (and to ponder on those passed over) by the playwrights." Bruce Golden finds that in Hamlet and El medico de su honra, Shakespeare and Caldron "are using certain dominant social and cultural codes analogously," specifically those of revenge and honor, to show that "in the desperate striving to maintain its dignity, indeed its mastery, the male ego in these tragedies subverts itself." And Denise M. DiPuccio's essay on romance reveals that in El hijo del sol, Faeton and The Tempest, Calderon and Shakespeare "pose similar questions about using language to make sense out of reality." Nevertheless, their plays both challenge and thwart the critic "by deliberately exposing the process of creating ambiguity and by explicitly underscoring the enigma of their own texts." In most of the essays in this volume, Shakespeare serves as a critical tool for explicating the Spanish comedia. The collection also suggests a direction for future research, obliquely addressed in Kenneth Muir's essay on the translation of Calderon's plays. As Cohen aptly puts it, comedia studies might well be brought to bear on Shakespeare's plays so as to "defamiliarize" them "by placing them in what remains a largely alien context in this country."
Contributors: William R. Blue, Frederick A. de Armas, Susan L. Fischer, Edward H. Friedman, Bruce Golden, Denise M. DiPuccio, Kenneth Muir, and Walter Cohen.
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