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Bulletin Of The Comediantes Vol. VII Spring, 1955 No. 1 The Problem of the Motif-index with Special Reference to Lope de Vega by Charles L. Adams, College of Wooster Research in two seemingly disassociated fields of literary history—the classification of the motifs of popular literature, and the chronology of the plays of Lope de Vega— first led me to investigate Lope's use of traditional and novelesque elements in the plots of his comedias^. It was hoped that the study would throw new light on various problems related to the development of Lope': dramatic art. In order to insure the validity of the study certain limitations were imposed. 1) Only those plays of accepted or highly probable authenticity were considered. 2) Within that group all of the plays definitely written before 1596, and only those of specific date between 1596 and 1635 were analyzed. The elements studied were limited to five major categories: a) Popular and historical legends, including those related in ballads, and historical or pseudo-historical anecdotes, b) Themes and motifs of universal folklore, including those popularized by literature, c) Popular and traditional tales and anecdotes, whether of folk origin, or popularized by literature, d) Proverbs—only those used as tides and bases for plays, or in support of a central theme or major episode, e) Popular songs and artistic imitations thereof. A further limitation on b and c was the omission, with few exceptions, of references to mythological themes and motifs. It is interesting to note that, despite the latter limitation, category b, supplemented by c, provided the greater portion of material for the study. A total of 105 plays—or 91% of those studied—revi aled extensiwause of universal themes and motifs, the treatment of which was analyzed according to three principal considerations: 1) their use as basic elements of the plot (including all "ornamental" motifs which are integral parts of the central theme), 2) as strong supporting elements, or 3) as extraneous elements with little or no effect on the plot. A breakdown by percentages shows that 36.5% of the 115 plays studied contain folk-themes as basic elements, 87.8% contain them as supporting elements, and 28.7% use them extraneously .2 These figures do not, of course, indicate the number of individual themes or motifs per play, or the number of times a motif is repeated in the same play. Since all of Lope's dated plays were analyzed , it was possible to seek and to ascertain, to a degree, chronological trends in his use of folk-motifs. This fact, coupled with the relatively high concentration of motifs in the group of plays as a whole, indicated two things: 1) a very important part of Lope's dramatic art has hitherto been overlooked, and 2) it has definite possibilities as a means of helping to solve the problem of chronology in the undated plays, as well as the question of authorship in some of the doubtful cases.« It is with these two facts in mind that I have embarked upon the analysis of the remainder of the authentic comedias by Lope, and, I might add, the evidence of his ex1 BULLETIN OF THE COMEDIANTES Published in the Spring and Fall by the Comediantes, an informal, international group of all those interested in the comedia. Editor Everett W. Hesse University of Wisconsin Madison 6, Wis. Assistant Editor John E. Keller University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, N. C. Subscription: $1 a year -------tensive use of folk-motifs continues to pile UP· The question is, of course, how does this effect the problem of a classification index for the comedian Or, to state it in another way, how does Lope compare with other Spanish dramatists in this respect? Research in the pre-Lope period revealed that among the major dramatists at least, the occurrence of folk-motifs is rare and extremely accidental .3 I have done comparatively little with Tirso, Alarcón and Calderón, but the indications are that Tirso may be compared positively with Lope, while Alarcón and Calderón each represents a totally different technique in the use of such elements. True, folk-themes and motifs represent only...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-0928
Print ISSN
0007-5108
Pages
pp. 1-3
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-08
Open Access
No
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