restricted access Calderón in the German Lands and the Low Countries: His Reception and Influence (review)
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REVIEWS Sullivan, Henry W. Calderón in the German Lands and the Low Countries : His Reception and Influence. Cambridge Iberian and Latin American Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983. Pp. XVi, 510. This monograph reflects years of diligent research in the archives of Europe. It is a thorough piece of scholarship, as detailed as it is panoramic, in which Sullivan covers just about every translation, imitation, adaptation, and performance of Calderón's plays in German lands. Moreover, Sullivan reaches beyond positivism to analyze Calderón's influence from the perspective of Hans Robert Jauss's Rezeptionsästhetik as he traces the changing image of the playwright over the last three and a quarter centuries. Thus he establishes the protean and universal character of Calderón's theater. Calderón proves to be especially fruitful terrain for Rezeptionsästhetik because he has known every kind of encounter an author might experience beyond his own borders. His plays were performed in Castilian in Amsterdam, for the Sephardic Jews, and in Vienna between 1668 and 1673 for Maria Margarita, the Spanish wife of the Habsburg emperor, Leopold I (94-9). Elsewhere, however, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the German public saw the plays enacted, first by Dutch traveling groups, then by the German Wandertruppen, in German translations, derived from the Spanish through French, Dutch, Italian or English intermediaries. Not until the Romantic period did German theatergoers enjoy more faithful and artistic renditions. August Wilhelm von Schlegel's German versions of La devoción de ¡a cruz, El mayor encanto amor, La banda y la flor (Berlin, 1803) , and El principe constante and La puente de Mantible (1809) reflected Schlegel's thorough grounding in Spanish as they also replicated exactly the rich polymetry of the originals (174-5). So great was Schlegel's success that he inspired a host of other translators including Johann Dietrich Gries, Fr. H. von Einsiedel and Wilhelmine Schmidt. Armed with these new versions, Johann Wolfgang von 249 250BCom, Vol. 40, No. 2 (Winter 1 988) Goethe staged in Weimar Schlegel's version of El príncipe constante (1811), Einsiedel's rendition of La vida es sueño (1812) and Gries's translation of La gran Cenobio (1815). The first two were rousing successes and became staples of the German stage. Meanwhile in Bamberg, German audiences saw Schlegel's versions of La devoción de Ia cruz, Don Fernando, el príncipe constante and La puente de Mantible, mounted by E.T.A. Hoffmann, while in Berlin the theater public responded so enthusiastically to August Wilhelm Iffland's productions of Calderón that Berlin eventually "led all German cities in the number of new Calderonian dramas staged, as well as the number of overall performances" (256). Calderón's plays were triumphs because the Romantic poets and dramatists recognized and exploited their inherent theatricality. The staging grew increasingly more elaborate and even attracted original musical compositions. With Calderón, then, the German stage invaded the bailiwick of art and music, thus confirming Richard Wagner's perception of the theater as the synthesis of all the arts. Sullivan emphasizes throughout how the Germans accommodated Calder ón to shifting tastes, values, and ideologies. In the late seventeenth century the Amsterdam version of La vida es sueño replaced the word "God" with "heaven" and "nature" in order "to avoid blasphemies in the theater and to allay Calvinist sensitivities" (48). In the eighteenth, German traveling groups performed comedies like Lances de amor y fortuna, which were similar to secular plays called Haupt- und Staataktion, distinguished for their dazzling court pageantry and clever palace intrigue. Johann Christoph Gottsched and his actress wife, F. Caroline Neuber, even attempted to force Calderón into a Neoclassical straitjacket . In the nineteenth century the German Romantics valued Calderón as the Christian Romantic dramatist par excellence with Eusebio in La devoción de la cruz and Fernando in El príncipe constante emerging as exemplars of the Christian hero. The German Idealist philosophers, in turn, perceived in Calderón a reflection of their own transcendentalism. In the second half of the century the playwright was thrust into the center of the Kulturkampf as Catholics fervently defended...