‘Du nom au genre. Lope de Vega, la tragedia et son public’ by Florence D’Artois

Bibliothèque de la Casa de Velázquez présente le livre de Florence D’Artois Du nom au genre. Lope de Vega, la tragedia et son public, 2017, available online

À une époque où toutes les pièces étaient normalement désignées par une étiquette hypergénérique, celle de come­dia, Lope de Vega (1562-1635) a écrit six pièces qu’il a appelées tragedias et une trentaine de tragicomedias. Or la tragédie en Espagne était peu représentée hors du cadre des théâtres commerciaux, les corrales de comedias. Dans ces conditions, comment une idée de la tragédie suffisamment consistante pour être mobilisée dans les mécanismes de composition et de réception du théâtre de Lope a-t-elle pu se former ?

Cet ouvrage explore d’abord la formation de compétences génériques du public du corral, à partir de deux ensembles en amont de la tragédie lopesque : les œuvres tragiques écrites entre 1575 et 1585 et les comedias tragiques écrites au tournant du siècle. Il revient ensuite à la tragédie lopesque proprement dite, analysant la formule que Lope instrumentalise à l’envi pour séduire divers types de public, en jouant de la plasticité d’une forme qui se laisse adapter ad hoc.

Lope de Vega (1562-1635) wrote six works which he called tragedias and some thirty other tragicomedias, at a time when custom demanded that all works be assigned a super-generic label, namely comedia. Tragedy in Spain was known for a genre foreign to the world of commercial theatres—the corrales de comedias. In such conditions, how could a notion of tragedy be formed that was solid enough to operate in the mechanics of composition and reception of Lope’s plays?

This book begins by exploring the emergence of an ability to appreciate genre among the audiences of the corral based on two groups of plays: tragic plays written between 1575 and 1585 and tragic comedias written at the turn of the century. Here the book returns to Lope’s tragedies proper, a tragic formula that Lope utilised effortlessly to seduce various types of audience, manipulating plasticity in a way that can readily be adapted ad hoc.

© Casa de Velázquez, 2017

Le Guzmán et le Quichotte apocryphes

Bibliothèque de la Casa de Velázquez présente un livre de David Alvarez Roblin intitulé  DE L’IMPÔTURE À LA CRÉATION Le Guzman et le Quichotte apocryphes dans Open Edition Books.

L’ambition de ce livre est de proposer un regard nouveau sur le Guzmán de Alfarache et le Quichotte. Il adopte pour cela un angle d’attaque singulier qui consiste à étudier ces deux chefs-d’œuvre du Siècle d’or en regard de leurs Secondes parties apocryphes.

Les Premières parties du Guzmán et du Quichotte ont en effet donné lieu à des continuations d’autres auteurs, parues respectivement à Valence, en 1602, et à Tarragone, en 1614, alors qu’Alemán et Cervantès préparaient eux-mêmes des suites de leurs romans. Si, de ce fait, l’entreprise littéraire de ces écrivains concurrents s’apparente à une imposture, elle comporte cependant une part remarquable de création : Luján et Avellaneda introduisent tous deux des innovations qui ne sont pas des maladresses ou des « erreurs ».

De surcroît, leurs projets romanesques stimulent la créativité des auteurs originaux, qui sont contraints de remanier – voire de réécrire – leurs propres Secondes parties. C’est la fécondité et la richesse de ces différentes interactions romanesques que cet ouvrage aimerait mettre en lumière.

© Casa de Velázquez, 2014

Discursive “Renovatio” in Lope de Vega and Calderón

Küpper, Joachim
Discursive “Renovatio” in Lope de Vega and Calderón, 2017
in Studies on Spanish Baroque Drama

DE GRUYTER MOUTON (Read online Open Access)

This book first appeared in German, in 1990. Since its argument touches upon questions of a more comprehensive nature, exceeding the specialist framework of scholarship pertaining to the Spanish Golden Age, it found readers from other disciplines – and from outside the German academic context – right from the start. Time and again, a number of international colleagues encouraged me to have it translated, so as to facilitate a reception beyond the confines of what has become a langue mineure in the second half of the twentieth century. Yet there were more urgent things to do; and then two attempts failed, because the translators capitulated before the task of rendering my German academic prose into the lingua franca of the present-day world. DS Mayfield, to whom I am deeply indebted, finally produced the text which is at the basis of the present edition. Let me also thank the copyeditor Samuel Walker, who took care of all the details that still required revision.

The study here submitted is not a translation in the strict sense. I tried to preserve the essence of the original, while deleting from the notes all those passages not immediately pertinent to the argument, since they refer particularly to scholarly discussions conducted within German Romance studies. The main text has been revised with the aim of disencumbering it from details that seemed inessential in retrospect; some of this material has been transferred to the notes, but most of it has been deleted.

I retained the title, including the Latin term renovatio, which might seem somewhat unconventional at first sight. It alludes to the political program of the first Roman Emperor, Augustus. His attempts at re-stabilizing a society disintegrated by decades of internal strife were characterized by the propagation of a renewal of “traditional” Roman virtus. In its first phase, the success of this restorative strategy was impressive; but, as is the case in sixteenth and seventeenth century Spain, the renewal of philosophical, conduct-related, and literary paradigms from former times was finally not able to bring historical processes to a standstill.

As in the German original, I make ample use of neologisms based on Latin or Greek etyma that have already made their way into Western vernaculars. Moreover, I have preserved numerous single quotation marks, which are much more common in German than in English; these are used whenever I refer to expressions, concepts, or terms as they are generally understood in the textual corpora under scrutiny, seeing that it would be nonsensical to indicate a single specific reference. In order to avoid redundancy, I do not provide translations of quotes from Iberian texts; my reading is always (very) ‘close to the text’. Quotes from Latin (and occasional ones from Greek) are taken from well-known sources, the translations of which are easily accessible, if needed.

This book will be difficult to receive for readers who do not have any knowledge of the Christian tradition. It does not contain many passages that do not, in some way or another, refer to the Old and New Testaments (and specifically the Pauline epistles), to Origen and Augustine, to Thomas Aquinas, to William of Ockham, or to Erasmus of Rotterdam, Luther, and Descartes. I have come to realize, however, that the notion of central dogmatic concepts of this religion (such as original sin, for instance) has become more and more imprecise in recent decades – even in Western scholarly contexts. For this reason, I have added a considerable number of explanatory notes not contained in the original version.

Although already implied in the above paragraph, it should be stated explicitly that the light cast on an epoch separated from the present by at least 350 years is not informed – as has been customary in the humanities since the beginning of the nineteenth century – by an attempt at conceiving of the past as a stage in the development towards the present. Legitimizing the present by modeling it as the ‘consequential’ result of what was already latently ‘there’ (in more erudite terms: teleology) is an important approach to writing history; but such an identificatory attitude should not obstruct the comprehension of the past’s possible alterity. The worldview that is given expression to in Spanish Baroque dramas is certainly not apt to serve as a basis for present-day conceptualizations; but it may be highly useful, specifically in a period of rapid globalization and various ‘culture clashes’ linked to this process, for becoming aware of the extent to which the premodern stages of our own Western history differ from what we are used to taking for granted, from what we tend to consider ‘reasonable’ or to accept as ‘ethical’.

I have not incorporated a discussion of the research performed during the 25 years since the first edition; for, in substance, not much seems to have changed in this field over the last decades. This said, there are some very occasional hints at publications that appeared after the first edition of this book.

As was the case for almost all German Romanists of my generation, my first field was French studies; my doctoral dissertation deals with Balzac and the question of realism. My second field was Italian literature; I published two books and a few articles on some classical texts written in that language. It was at the university of Munich where I – already an assistant professor as per the American nomenclature – was trained in Spanish literature. At that time, Ilse Nolting-Hauff, who taught in Munich, was the most eminent Hispanist in Germany; and she was an incredibly beautiful woman. Her fields were medieval courtly literature, conceptism, and Mannerism, including its manifestations in twentieth century literature. Ilse was an utterly worldly person; problems pertaining to theology and the history of religion were of minor interest to her. Yet, besides introducing me to the treasures of Iberian literature, she regarded my activities with favor and supported my research, although she was aware that I was writing a book whose focus was far removed from her own mindset; and she taught me a scholar’s single most important virtue: the love of working hard.

I dedicate this edition to her memory.”

Berlin, November 2016

Joachim Küpper. “Discursive Renovatio in Lope de Vega and Calderón”.

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Le théâtre espagnol du Siècle d’Or en France

Christophe Couderc (dir.)

Éditeur : Presses universitaires de Paris Nanterre, 2014 online edition

Depuis le XVII siècle, les traducteurs, les adaptateurs et les praticiens du théatre n’ont jamais cessé de faire vivre en France les pièces de Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina ou Calderon de la Barca, malgré la célèbre phrase de Louis Jouvet qui affirmait que «le théâtre du Siècle d’Or est un théâtre mort». Traditionnellement envisagé sous l’angle de la critique des sources, le riche et complexe phénomène de la réception de la Comedia espagnole en France, depuis l’âge classique jusqu’à  la période contemporaine, a donné lieu, depuis quelques années, à des travaux novateurs réalisés par des chercheurs provenant de diverses disciplines. Le présent ouvrage rassemble ainsi dix-sept contributions d’hispanisants, de francisants ou de comparatistes, qui rendent compte de la vitalité des études portant sur un processus tenant autant de l’imitation ou de la réécriture que de l’échange interculturel. Un livre qui nous invite à repenser le rapport entre théâtre espagnol et théâtre français afin d’enrichir une histoire transnationale du goût et de l’esthétique dramatiques.

Online lecture

Medalla de oro a la Red del Patrimonio Teatral Clásico Español (TC/12)

El proyecto de Investigación TC/12 (Red del Patrimonio Teatral Clásico Español), coordinado por el profesor Joan Oleza, recibirá la medalla de oro de la Academia de las Artes Escénicas. El acto de concesión de la medalla, que será organizado conjuntamente por la Academia, el Ayuntamiento de Murcia y la Universidad de Murcia, tendrá lugar el lunes 26 de febrero de 2018.

Es una buena ocasión para hacer referencia nuevamente a algunos de los resultados del proyecto y de otros proyectos relacionados:

25 years translating the theatre of the Spanish Golden Age

In 2009, David Johnston, Queen’s University Belfast, set out the reasons why it is only in the last fifteen years that the English-speaking world has shown any sustained interest in the plays of the Spanish Golden Age and discussed ways in which the translator may approach the plays of the Spanish Golden Age (read full article).

In 2015 David Johnston published Translating the Theatre of the Spanish Golden Age: A Story of Chance and Transformation. See below the review of this book by Robin Kello (appeared in Diversifying the Classics webpage):

David Johnston’s Translating the Theatre of the Spanish Golden Age: A Story of Chance and Transformation is a delicious mixture: it is at once a memoir of a life in the theatre, a treatise on translation, an introduction to Spanish Golden Age drama, and a meditation on the value and power of art. Rejecting the fantasy of the perfect conversion from one language and time to another, Johnston defines his craft as an “act of writing forward,” of bringing the rich playtexts of the past into present contexts (11). The string that ties together the varied elements of this slim volume is the idea that contemporary audiences may respond to these plays as much as the audiences of early modern Spain, and that they deserve to performed again, to be heard in the idiom of today, and most of all, to be seen.

The story of Johnston’s own conversion from theatre lover and student of the Spanish language to award-winning translator begins with an explosion. Taking a book down from the Queen’s University library stacks, Johnston feels the reverberations of a bomb from nearby Dublin Road. In his lucid, fast-moving prose, he describes the chance and transformation that follows: “A four-story building had disappeared from the skyline and a stunned and bewildered flock of dark starlings was still spinning in the air in front of a huge pall of grey smoke and brick-dust. I looked down at the book in my hand. A battered Spanish edition of Calderón’s Life’s a Dream” (6). In the collision of 1635 Madrid and 1974 Belfast, the poetic illusion and the stark reality of the leveled building, and the echoes of authoritarianism that united them in Johnston’s consciousness, the translator found his vocation.

The rewards of that inspiration are evident throughout the book, as Johnston peppers his story with his own marvelous English renderings of the original Spanish. Adept at both comic and tragic tones, he illustrates the vibrant character and contemporary relevance of these plays by providing examples of his process and its products. Unlike more conservative translators, he argues that the use of profanity is sometimes necessary to shock the audience. He thus translates Laurencia’s monologue from Lope’s Fuenteovejuna, in which she condemns the cowardice of the village men, to convey the force of her rage: “You call yourselves men? Go and fuck / each other, then finish your sewing! / Cowards! Sheep! Hide behind your women / . . . we’ll dress you in scarves and skirts. / and powder your white cheeks with rouge” (43). Through Johnston’s words, the reader can feel Laurencia’s torment and fury.

Johnston brings a translator’s sensitivity to not only the language of these characters but the larger social dynamics they portray onstage, rejecting the idea that these works unequivocally reinforce orthodox, Catholic, patriarchal values. In his account of Fuenteovejuna, “its depiction of the outer excesses of authoritarian abuse, its recognition of the causes, if not the validity, of revolutionary action, and its positioning of women as both the victims of, and, in the final analysis, the prime movers against sexual violence,” still resonates today (55). The theater offers a space for a culture, whether 17th-century Spain or the current United States, to simultaneously perform and examine itself. The social inequalities and anxieties over authority that dominate our public conversation are also at the center of these vital early modern plays. Drama does not merely reflect, but instead foregrounds a proliferation of voices and interpretations.

Toward the end of his story, Johnston remarks that the book will be a success if it inspires others to translate. As part of the Diversifying the Classics project at UCLA, I’m grateful to have Johnston as model and motivation, but the audience for this book is far broader than aspiring translators of dramatic texts. It may be especially valuable for those in the theater, but this wonderful story of chance and is transformation is a rare gift for anyone interested in the conversation between Spanish and English, past and present, politics and art.

Robin Kello.

New Approaches to Plays from the Spanish Golden Age

The American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) is doing a great job and deserves an enormous recognition from Spain. ASTR is a US-based professional organization that fosters scholarship on worldwide theatre and performance, both historical and contemporary.

Since 2008, they maintain a wikipage with the content of the annual conference working papers that shows the great amount of talent and time spent in the formidable task of translating classic Spanish plays.

And all this effort shows a huge success on dealing with very complicated tasks. For instance, discovering details that had gone entirely unremarked in modern critical reception of plays. What follows is an example of it.

In preparation for ASTR 2016 (Atlanta Nov. 16-19), as part of the working group in charge of the session ‘When the Extraordinary is Also Ordinary: Spanish Golden Age Theater’s Heroic Monsters‘, Harley Erdman wrote a truly innovative paper: Dueling Monsters: Non-Normative Bodies in Luis Vélez de Guevara’s La serrana de la Vera.

In this amazing paper, Erdman points out something that had passed almost unnoticed so far: “Luis Vélez de Guevara’s La serrana de la Vera (1613) has generated a lot of critical interest recently – and one major stage production – because of its extraordinarily non-normative protagonist, Gila, who identifies as a man and behaves as one, while undertaking uncommon feats of strength, heroism, and violence. She has been variously identified over the years as “irregular,” homosexual, lesbian, queer, and, most recently, by Harrison Meadows at the 2016 ASTR conference, as transgender. In this paper, I will argue that the play also includes another extraordinary body: Captain Don Lucas de Carvajal, her seducer and aggressor, who textually and contextually can be specified as Jewish. His non-normative masculinity can be paired with Gila’s non-normative femininity in a way that generates a richer and more complicated understanding of this tragedy.”

Erdman argues that La serrana de la Vera “can be seen as centered around the conflict between two gender non-normative characters: Gila, a masculine woman, and the Captain, a feminized man. To read the Captain as Jewish is to read him prima facie (c. 1613, that is) as womanly, as Otero-Torres (citing Mirrer) points out, noting how Jews were feminized in medieval Spanish culture and denied masculine attributes (even rumored to menstruate) as part of a much larger and persistent tradition that persists to this day.”

All this argument starts by point out that:

“Gila, in her initial heated exchange with the Captain, names the sin, when she scoffs to his face: ‘Qué fanfarrón judío! [‘What a boasting Jew!’] (376). In that moment, modern readers discover that the Captain is understood to be a New Christian, a detail that explains a lot about the first five hundred lines of the play: Giraldo’s frosty reception, Gila’s outright contempt, and the entire town’s spirited mockery of and threats of violence against him. Yet, with the exception of one essay by Otero-Torres (1997), this detail has gone entirely unremarked in modern critical reception of the play. Giraldo, Gila, and the entire town of Garganta la Olla defy the Captain, I would argue, not because his orders are unreasonable but because of his blood: because of something inscribed upon his body.

Gila’s snarling ‘fanfarrón judío’ cannot de dismissed as a passing insult but rather must be seen an accusation that would have resonated deeply with audiences of 1613 due to the Captain’s family name of Car[a]vajal.”

What first surprised me more was this verse: ‘Qué fanfarrón judío!’ that I did not remembered at all after working on a digital version of La serrana de la vera for Fundacion Ramón Menéndez Pidal. After checking this online edition and Velez’ manuscript, I realized that the manuscript reads clearly ‘Qué fanfarrón jodío!’ and that Menéndez Pidal’s edition (and most editions before and after it) writes it as it is, without any remark.

However, as it is well know by any philologist, for many decades words like roído for ruido,  cochillo for cuchillo, güésped for huésped, soprique for suplique, jodío for judío were interchangeable until XIX century in Spain. Almost always there are changes in pre-stressed vowel.

The verse ‘Qué fanfarrón jodío!’ requires a well deserved note in any edition. This detail had gone entirely unremarked in modern critical reception of this play, indeed.

Fortunately, Erdman is working in a bilingual edition of La serrana de la Vera for publication this year by the University of Liverpool’s Hispanic Classic series.

Thanks Erdman and other academics, maybe something critical is changing in translating Spanish classic plays. Congratulations!

Translating classic Spanish drama into English: work in progress yet

Eric Bentley, critic and editor, and Roy Campbell, poet and translator

Eric Bentley, born in September 14, 1916, is a British-born American critic, playwright, singer, editor and translator. He is still one of the most respected theatre critic in America, and is also recognized by his role as having introduced the English-speaking theatre to the works of Bertolt Brech and other classic writers from Italy, Germany, Spain, and France.

The Classic Theatre serie was started in 1958 and planned in four volumes: v. 1. Six Italian plays. – v. 2. Five German plays. – v. 3. Six Spanish plays. – v. 4. Six French plays.

Volume 3 of the Classic theatre under title Six Spanish plays was published in 1959 with six plays of the ‘Spanish drama of the golden age’ translated into English by Roy Campbell for BBC: The siege of Numantia / Miguel de Cervantes – Fuente Ovejuna / Lope de Vega – The trickster of Seville and his guest of stone / Tirso de Molina – Life is a dream / Calderón de la Barca – Celestina / Fernando de Rojas – Love after death / Calderón de la Barca.

In 1985 a new edition was published under the title: Life Is a Dream and Other Spanish Classics (1985)– last two plays of the 1959 edition were not included.

Very unfortunately, Roy Campbell died in a car accident near Setúbal, Portugal, on Easter Monday, 1957, when a car driven by his wife hit a tree. At the time of his death, he was 55 years old and was working upon translations of 16th- and 17th-century Spanish plays. Although only the rough drafts were completed, Campbell’s work was posthumously edited for publication by Eric Bentley in 1959.

Roy Campbell was a real character of his own: a poet who counted George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, T S Eliot, Evelyn Waugh, J R R Tolkien and C S Lewis among his friends. He was Afrikaner, British, catholic, pro-Franco, translator of Spanish drama and poetry (Lorca, Cervantes, Lope, Calderón, St John of the Cross…) into English, sergeant during the Second World War, BBC journalist for many years. His live reflects a personal scale version of shaken twenty century. It is highly recommendable to know more of his biography here.

To approach Roy Campbell’s translator spirit, it is worth to have a look at Campbell’s verse commemorating Lorca’s death. He wrote:

Not only did he lose his life
By shots assassinated:
But with a hammer and a knife
Was after that—translated.

ca. 1946, UK — The South African poet, journalist and producer, Roy Campbell (1901-1957), ca. 1946. — Image by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

This same warning on literature translations is identified in Bentley’s edition of Campbell’s plays. In the foreword of the 1959 edition, Bentley revels  something really surprising: the Spanish Golden Age plays have been awfully translated into English. He says:

“Probably there is no body of World Literature so little known to the world as the classic Spanish drama. This is not entirely the world’s fault, for few of the translations are readable, let alone impressive. The only collection of Lope de Vega ever published in English it, it seems, Four Plays, in English versions by John Garret Underhill. I defy anyone to read it through. In the nineteenth century Denis Florence MacCarthy spent many years of his life translating Calderón. In trying to reproduce the sound of the Spanish, he effectively prevented himself from writing English. Edward Fitzgerald had much greater success with Calderón, but went to the other extreme of excessive freedom. For a while the effect must have seemed to be one of brilliance: today one is depressed by the persistent feeling that one is reading Victorian poetry of the second class. In ranging pretty widely over the field of Spanish classics in English, I found most enjoyable a volume entitled Three Comedies from the Spanish, published anonymously in London in 1807 and known to be the work of Lord Holland. Unfortunately, Lord Holland did not choose to include a single major play.

What was needed, I thought, was fresh air, such as flooded into the translated Greek drama a generation ago when Cocteau and Yeats applied themselves to it. I got hold of some translations which Roy Campbell had recently made for the B.B.C. Third Programme. Fuente Ovejuna and The Trickster of Seville, flat and even absurd in the earlier translations I had read, came alive. Campbell was in love with old Spain and was one of the few poets writing English in our day who had a touch of bravado, a vein of bravura. Even qualities I had disliked in certain poems of his own were turned to account in the translations. And he also had a straightforward lyrical gift, invaluable for the rendering of Lope’s tenderness and charm. When Roy Campbell came to America for a lecture tour in the autumn of 1955, Jason Epstein and I arranged with him to bring out the B.B.C. translations—plus a couple we ourselves commissioned—in this country.

Campbell was killed, with all the sudden, sprawling violence of Spanish life and literature, some 18 months later. The translations were done, but, as they were not revised, let alone polished and fully prepared for the press, the responsibility devolved upon me of editing manuscripts without being able to consult their author. Should research students ever compare the manuscripts with the texts here published, some of them will wish, I imagine, that I had meddled more, others will conclude that I have already meddled too much. The task being impossible, the solutions found were at best partial and questionable. But in human affairs this is not an unusual situation.

The book remains largely Roy Campbell’s, but it is rounded out by a version of one of the few Spanish classics that has received a truly classic translation into English. In the circumstances under which this volume was prepared, I would not have wished to mix Campbell’s work with that of other moderns, but I think he would have enjoyed proximity to the Mabbe version of La Celestina. “As Greek tragedy,” says Moratín, “was composed from the crumbs that fell from Homer’s table, so the Spanish drama owed its earliest forms to La Celestina.” James Mabbe’s work, in turn, rendering Rojas in the English of Shakespeare and the King James Bible, stands as a model and a challenge to all subsequent translators of the Spanish classics.

The volumes of the present series represent only a small selection from an enormous repertoire. There will always be a case against the particular selection made, and there will always be a case against the particular translations used. I am very willing to concede that such a volume as the present one is only a beginning, if my critics will grant that it is a beginning. “Spanish drama of the golden age” has been a phrase only, referring to we knew not what. If this volume communicates something of the spirit of that drama to modem readers (and, who knows? also to theatre audiences) it will have succeeded where many worthy efforts in the past have failed. In any event I shall not be ashamed to have played even a modest part in the enterprise.”

In 2016, Eric Bentley was interviewed by Rob Weinert-Kendt, the editor-in-chief of American TheatreHere is the introduction to the mentioned article. (Read the full article)

Eric Bentley has not gone soft. But at age 99, the British-born critic who wrote The Playwright as Thinker and introduced the English-speaking theatre to the works of Bertolt Brecht—among an eventful career’s worth of noteworthy achievements—has well earned the right to be circumspect about his body of work, about the art form he greatly influenced if never personally mastered, and about the cultural health of the nation he’s called home since becoming a citizen in 1948. And so, as he sat in a plush leather chair for an interview last December in the study of his home on Riverside Dr., with a view of a Joan of Arc memorial statue that one of his idols, George Bernard Shaw, might have appreciated, Bentley alternated between dispatching ready answers to questions he’s been asked hundreds of times and taking the time to think through philosophical and aesthetic quandaries he’s still, after all these years, wrestling with.

It is that wrestling—his rancor-free but nevertheless uncompromising lifelong tangle with ideas, both as expressed through the theatre and outside it—that keeps a reader returning with interest and pleasure to Bentley’s work. Though he was only a proper critic, in the sense of being employed to review current theatrical offerings on a regular deadline, for a handful of years in the late 1940s and early ’50s (for The New Republic and The Nation), in his major books and essays he brought a sharp, systematic mind and exacting if wide-ranging taste to a task few had taken up before him, and nearly none have since, outside the halls of academia: fashioning a long-viewed yet fine-grained critical history of Western drama up to the present day.

Alas, that “present day” more or less stopped at mid-century; though he considered himself an ally of many ’60s liberation movements, in particular gay rights (he himself came out near the end of that decade), he wrote precious little about the theatre of that time, let alone after. His health currently renders him unable to travel outside his home; even so, there remain intervening decades of substantive theatre (Shepard, Sondheim, Churchill, Kane, Kushner, assorted Wilsons, Mamet, Vogel, Nottage, etc.) about which he has been effectively silent. He has spent some of the intervening decades teaching, as well as writing his own plays, which include Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?, Lord Alfred’s Lover, and Round Two.

Still, the shadow of his seminal collections—which include What Is Theatre?, In Search of Theatre, and The Life of the Drama—continues to hang over what passes for critical discourse today, and it would be a grave mistake to consign his books to history, or to the timeworn aesthetic and political arguments from which they sprung. As with the greatest critics, it is not Bentley’s judgments but his insights that make him most valuable, though these can be hard to untangle, of course. And it is probably the case that without his peremptorily contrarian temperament, which put him so regularly at odds with major figures of his day, Bentley might never have teased out the contradictions and complexities of playwrights he admired as well as the ones he didn’t.

He lionized Pirandello, for instance, and championed Ibsen, but few of their admirers have ever written so frankly or comprehensively about those dramatists’ shortcomings as well. Bentley brought a similarly rounded view to writers that interested him but he mostly didn’t care for, including Miller and O’Neill.

Nothing demonstrates what might be thought of as Bentley’s critical integrity so well as his dealings with Brecht. This was the one figure, apart from Shaw, that Bentley most admired and on which he pinned his hopes for the future of the theatre, and the admiration was reportedly mutual. But when Brecht rather hamfistedly insisted on Bentley’s political fealty to his brand of Eastern bloc Communism, Bentley bluntly declined. As an anti-Soviet leftist with seemingly equal disdain for hardline Marxists and softheaded Western liberals, Bentley quite literally made enemies right and left—but mostly left.

The occasion for our meeting was the aftermath of a centennial celebration at Town Hall, organized by soprano Karyn Levitt, who recently released the album Eric Bentley’s Brecht-Eisler Songbook. Bentley had watched the event—which was hosted by a former mentee and housemate, Michael Riedel (yes, that Michael Riedel), and featured tributes from various luminaries (including Kushner)—from home via livestream. Below are excerts from our conversation.

(Read the full article)

51 Vicente Espinel: Vida de Marcos de Obregón, tomo II

El volumen 51 de la colección Clásicos Castellanos está dedicado al segundo tomo de la obra de Vicente Espinel, Vida de Marcos de Obregón, edición y notas de Samuel Gili Gaya.

La lectura online del tomo II puede hacerse en este enlace a la primera edición publicada en 1922:

 Vida de Marcos de Obregón
La lectura de la obra completa puede realizarse pulsando sobre las portadas que figuran a continuación, correspondientes a los volúmenes 43 y 51 de la colección Clásicos Castellanos.
 Tomo I     Tomo II
La obra tuvo un éxito inmediato en España y en Europa, donde fue ampliamente traducida y utilizada por otros escritores en Francia, Alemania y Reino Unido, principalmente:

La serie de RTVE El Pícaro utilizó varios capítulos del libro y de otras novelas picarescas españolas:

Free ePUB books from the Spanish National Library

The first collections of works converted to ePub format are available from Biblioteca Nacional de España (BNE), in the Biblioteca Digital Hispánica, for free downloading.

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This ongoing project involves the provision of some 700 works in ePub format and, for this purpose, not only works of literature and language have been selected, but also of history, geography, medicine, biographies, travel … and a collection of and about women in which a research group of the UCM has participated and which is already available. For this collection, titles of Rosalía de Castro, Emilia Pardo Bazán, Carmen de Burgos, Hildegart or Concepción Arenal have been selected, as well as works such as A Portrait of a Woman (Un retrato de mujer) by José Selgas, The Emancipation of the Woman (La emancipación de la mujer) by Jacques Novicow or The woman of the whole world (La mujer de todo el mundo) by Alejandro Sawa.

Also available are literature works of the nineteenth and twentieth century: Valle-Inclán, Lorca, Alarcón, Valera, Carolina Coronado … and many other authors whose work is in public domain.

The objective of this project is twofold: to offer new access formats to the digitized collections of the BNE, and to generate through the conversion to ePub process, new data sets, clean and structured, which can be useful for the improvement of searches or the application of digital textual analysis tools.