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Pedro Calderón de la Barca.
Pedro Calderón de la Barca y Barreda González de Henao Ruiz de Blasco y Riaño usually referred as Pedro Calderón de la Barca (17 January 1600 – 25 May 1681), was a dramatist of the Spanishmarker Golden Age.

Biography

Calderón was born in Madridmarker. His mother, who was of Flemish descent, died in 1610; his father, who was secretary to the treasury, died in 1615. Calderón was educated at the Jesuit College in Madridmarker, the Colegio Imperial, with a view to taking orders; but instead, he studied law at Salamancamarker.

Between 1620 and 1622 Calderón won several poetry contests in honor of St Isidore at Madrid. Calderón's debut as a playwright was Amor, honor y poder, performed on 29 June 1623. This was followed by two other plays that same year: La selva confusa and Los Macabeos. Over the next two decades, Calderón wrote more than 70 plays, the majority of which were secular dramas written for the commercial theatres.

According to one of his biographers, Vera Tassis, Calderón served with the Spanish army in Italymarker and Flanders between 1625 and 1635; but this statement is contradicted by numerous legal documents indicating that Calderón resided at Madrid during these years. Early in 1629 one of his brothers was stabbed by an actor who took sanctuary in a convent; Calderón, accompanied by another brother and some constables, broke into the cloister and attempted to seize the criminal. (One of the nuns happened to be the daughter of fellow dramatist Lope de Vega.) The fashionable preacher, Hortensio Félix Paravicino, denounced Calderón's actions in a sermon preached before King Philip IV; Calderón retorted by introducing into El príncipe constante, a mocking reference to Paravicino's florid oratory. Calderón was punished with three days of house arrest, and forced to remove the offending line from the play.

By the time Lope de Vega died in 1635, Calderón was recognized as the foremost Spanish dramatist of the age. Calderón had also gained considerable favour in the court, and in 1636-1637 he was made a knight of the order of Santiago by Philip IV, who had already commissioned from him a series of spectacular plays for the royal theatre in the newly built Buen Retiromarker palace.

On 28 May 1640 he joined a company of mounted cuirassiers recently raised by Gaspar de Guzmán y Pimentel, Count-Duke of Olivares, took part in the Catalonianmarker campaign, and distinguished himself by his gallantry at Tarragonamarker. His health failing, he retired from the army in November 1642, and three years later was awarded a special military pension in recognition of his services in the field.

His biography during the next few years is obscure. His brother, Diego Calderón, died in 1647. A son, Pedro José, was born to Calderón and an unknown woman between 1647 and 1649; the mother died soon after. Calderón committed his son to the care of his nephew, José, son of his brother Diego. Perhaps for reasons relating to these personal trials, Calderón became a tertiary of the order of St Francis in 1650, and then finally joined the priesthood. He was ordained in 1651, and became a priest at San Salvadormarker at Madrid. According to a statement he made a year or two later, he decided to give up writing secular dramas for the commercial theatres.

Though he did not adhere strictly to this resolution, he now wrote mostly mythological plays for the palace theatres, and autos sacramentales--one-act allegories illustrating the mystery of the Eucharist--for performance during the feast of Corpus Christi. In 1662, two of Calderón's autos, Las órdenes militares and Mística y real Babilonia, were the subjects of an inquiry by the Inquisition; the former was censured, its manuscript copies confiscated, and remained condemned until 1671.

Calderón was appointed honorary chaplain to Philip IV in 1663, and continued as chaplain to his successor. In his eighty-first year he wrote his last secular play, Hado y Divisa de Leonido y Marfisa, in honor of Charles II's marriage to Maria Luisa of Orléans. Notwithstanding his position at court and his popularity throughout Spain, his closing years seem to have been passed in relative poverty.

Calderón initiated what has been called the second cycle of Spanish Golden Age theatre. Whereas his predecessor, Lope de Vega, pioneered the dramatic forms and genres of Spanish Golden Age theatre, Calderón polished and perfected them. Whereas Lope's strength lay in the sponteneity and naturalness of his work, Calderón's strength lay in his capacity for poetic beauty, dramatic structure and philosophical depth. Calderón was a perfectionist who often revisited and reworked his plays, even long after they debuted. This perfectionism was not just limited to his own work: many of his plays rework existing plays or scenes by other dramatists, improving their depth, complexity, and unity. (Many European playwrights of the time, such as Molière, Corneille and Shakespeare, reworked old plays in this way.) Calderón excelled above all others in the genre of the "auto sacramental", in which he showed a seemingly inexhaustible capacity to giving new dramatic forms to a given set of theological constructs. Calderón wrote 120 "comedias", 80 "autos sacramentales" and 20 short comedic works called "entremeses". Although his fame dwindled during the 18th century, he was rediscovered in the early 19th century by the German Romantics. Translations of August Wilhelm Schlegel reinvigorated interest in the playwright, who, alongside Shakespeare, subsequently became a banner figure for the German Romantic movement. In subsequent decades, Calderón's was translated into German numerous times, most notably by Johann Dietrich Gries and Joseph von Eichendorff, and found significant reception on the German and Austrian stages under the direction of Goethe, E.T.A. Hoffmann and Joseph Schreyvogel. Later significant adaptations in the German context include Hugo von Hofmannsthal's versions of La vida es sueño and El Gran Teatro del mundo.

Twentieth-century Calderón reception suffered significantly under the influence of Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo, but a revival of interest in Calderón scholarship can be largely attributed to a British reception, namely through the works of A.A. Parker, A.E. Sloman and more recently Bruce Wardropper.



Selected Works

Some of Calderón's works have been translated into English, notably by Denis Florence MacCarthy, Edward Fitzgerald and Adrian Mitchell. A major new English translation of La vida es sueño was published by the University Press of Colorado in 2004.

  • El médico de su honra (The Surgeon of his Honour)
  • La vida es sueño (Life is a Dream)
  • El Alcalde de Zalamea (The Mayor of Zalamea)
  • La Dama duende (The Phantom Lady)
  • Casa con dos puertas (The House with Two Doors)
  • El Mágico prodigioso (The Mighty Magician)
  • La Devoción de la Cruz (Devotion to the Cross)
  • El Gran Teatro del mundo (The Great Theatre of the World)
  • El Gran Mercado del mundo (The World is a Fair)
  • El Pintor de su deshonra (The Painter of His Dishonour)
  • El Prodigio de Alemania (The Prodigy of Germany) (in collaboration with Antonio Coello)


In modern literature

Pedro Calderón appears in the 1998 novel The Sun Over Breda by Arturo Perez-Reverte, which takes up the assumption that he served in the Spanish Army at Flanders and depicts him during the sack of Oudkerkmarker by Spanish troops, helping the local librarian save books from the library in the burning Town Hall.

Bibliography

  • Calderón de la Barca, Pedro. Life's a Dream: A Prose Translation. Trans. and ed. Michael Kidd (Boulder, Colorado, 2004). Forthcoming in a bilingual edition from Aris & Phillips (U.K.).
  • Calderón de la Barca, Pedro. Obras completas / don Pedro Calderon de la Barca. Ed. Angel Valbuena Briones. 2 Vols. Tolle: Aguilar, 1969-.
  • Cotarelo y Mori, D. Emilio. Ensayo sobre la vida y obras de D. Pedro Calderón de la Barca. Ed. Facs. Ignacio Arellano y Juan Manuel Escudero. Biblioteca Áurea Hispánica. Madrid;Frankfurt: Iberoamericana; Veuvuert, 2001.
  • Cruickshank, Don W. "Calderón and the Spanish Book trade." Bibliographisches Handbuch der Calderón-Forschung / Manual Bibliográfico Calderoniano. Eds Kurt y Roswitha Reichenberger. Tomo III. Kassel: Verlag Thiele & Schwarz, 1981. 9-15.
  • Greer, Margaret Rich. The play of power: mythological court dramas of Calderón de la Barca. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 1991.
  • Parker, Alexander Augustine. The allegorical drama of Calderon, an introduction to the Autos sacramentales. Oxford, Dolphin Book, 1968.
  • Regalado, Antonio. "Sobre Calderón y la modernidad." Estudios sobre Calderón. Ed. Javier Aparicio Maydeu. Tomo I. Clásicos Críticos. Madrid: Istmo, 2000. 39-70.
  • Kurt & Roswitha Reichenberger: "Bibliographisches Handbuch der Calderón-Forschung /Manual bibliográfico calderoniano (I): Die Calderón-Texte und ihre Überlieferung". Kassel, Edition Reichenberger 1979. ISBN 3-87816-023-2
  • Kurt & Roswitha Reichenberger: "Bibliographisches Handbuch der Calderón-Forschung /Manual bibliográfico calderoniano (II, i): Sekundärliteratur zu Calderón 1679-1979: Allgemeines und "comedias". Estudios críticos sobre Calderón 1679-1979: Generalidades y comedias". Kassel, Edition Reichenberger 1999. ISBN 3-931887-74-X
  • Kurt & Roswitha Reichenberger: "Bibliographisches Handbuch der Calderón-Forschung /Manual bibliográfico calderoniano (II, ii):Sekundärliteratur zu Calderón 1679-1979: Fronleichnamsspiele, Zwischenspiele und Zuschreibungen. Estudios críticos sobre Calderón 1679-1979: Autos sacramentales, obras cortas y obras supuestas". Kassel, Edition Reichenberger 2003. ISBN 3-935004-92-3
  • Kurt & Roswitha Reichenberger: "Bibliographisches Handbuch der Calderón-Forschung /Manual bibliográfico calderoniano (III):Bibliographische Beschreibung der frühen Drucke". Kassel, Edition Reichenberger 1981. ISBN 3-87816-038-0
  • Rodríguez, Evangelina y Antonio Tordera. Calderón y la obra corta dramática del siglo XVII. London: Tamesis, 1983.
  • Ruano de la Haza, José M. "La Comedia y lo Cómico." Del horror a la Risa / los géneros dramáticos clásicos. Kassel: Edition Reichenberger, 1994. 269-285.
  • Ruiz Ramón, Calderón y la tragedia. Madrid: Alhambra, 1984.


References

Corrections have been made to biographical information using:
  • Cotarelo y Mori, D. Emilio. Ensayo sobre la vida y obras de D. Pedro Calderón de la Barca. Ed. Facs. Ignacio Arellano y Juan Manuel Escudero. Biblioteca Áurea Hispánica. Madrid;Frankfurt: Iberoamericana; Veuvuert, 2001.


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