Dama Boba

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Bilingual Press, Jan 1, 1998 - Drama - 182 pages
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Drama. In Spanish and English, translated by William I. Oliver. Lope de Vega, the most renowned playwright of the Spanish Golden Age (sixteenth and seventeenth centuries), was said to have written over 1,800 plays in verse. His life outside letters was so filled with romantic escapades, marital infidelities, and political and artistic disputes that the lives of his heroes paled by comparison. LADY NITWIT/LA DAMA BOBA is a perceptive character study of a female scatterbrain made wise in the ways of the world through the power of love. The plot moves from one delightfully comic situation to another, evoking the contradictions encountered in the course of love. The dialogue sparkles with humor and repartee. The ear of the translator always has the actors' and spectators' interests in mind. The wit sparkles. The characterizations are true ... I hope I get to see a production of this translation on stage. It would be a delight! -- David Glitz, University of Rhode Island.

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About the author (1998)

Lope de Vega was the creator of the national theater in Spain, and his achievements in drama are comparable in many respects to those of Shakespeare in England. Lope embraced all of Spanish life in his drama, combining strands of previous Spanish drama, history, and tradition to produce a drama with both intellectual and popular appeal. A prodigious writer whom Cervantes called the "monster of nature," Lope is attributed by his biographer with nearly 2,000 plays, 400 religious dramas, and hundreds of pieces of poetry and literature in every form. He was also involved throughout his life in numerous amorous and military adventures and was ordained as a priest in 1614. In his didactic poem New York Art of Writing Plays (1609), Lope defined his primary purpose as entertainment of the audience. He recommended a three-act play in which the outcome is withheld until the middle of the third act, when the denouement should be swiftly developed. Maintaining that the possibilities of classical theater had been exhausted, he advocated casting Terence and Plautus aside, that is, abandoning the classical unities. His definition of drama was eclectic, admitting combinations of comedy and tragedy, noble and lower-class characters, a variety of verse forms as demanded by different situations, and a wide panoply of themes---national, foreign, mythological, religious, heroic, pastoral, historical, and contemporary. His major strength was the execution of plot; he created no character of the depth or complexity of Shakespeare's major figures. He captured the essence of Spanish character with his treatment of the themes of honor, Catholic faith, the monarchy, and jealousy. In Peribanez (1610?), a lower-class hero is shown to be more honorable than a nobleman. King Henry the Just, a fictional creation, pardons Peribanez for his revenge killing of the nobleman who contrived to dishonor him by abusing his new bride. In Fuente Ovejuna, a play based on an event narrated in the Spanish chronicles, the people resist a cruel overlord, refusing to join the army he tries to mount against King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel. After the overlord interrupts a village wedding, the townspeople of Fuente Ovejuna collectively murder him and finally receive pardon and gratitude from the Catholic kings. Toward the end of his life Lope lost popularity, but all of Madrid attended his funeral, and his death was mourned throughout Spain. Albert Camus adapted his play, The Knight of Olmedo (1623?), for French-speaking audiences.

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