- The Three Secular Plays of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. A Critical Study by Guillermo Schmidhuber
- Calíope: Journal of the Society for Renaissance and Baroque Hispanic Poetry
- The Society for Renaissance and Baroque Hispanic Poetry
- Volume 7, Number 1, 2001
- pp. 151-152
- View Citation
- Additional Information
REVIEWS iff 151 conocimiento y el ingenio personates. De la misma manera, el libra En busca de Sorjuana de Georgina Sabat de Rivers, coleccion de ensayos que se destaca por su variedad tematica y rigor intepretativo, nos invita a cuestionar los presupuestos de la critica patriarcal, a reconocer y a tomar interes en la complejidad formal y conceptual de la obra de Sor Juana, y a poner en practica las ensenanzas feministas de la monja. Veronica Grossi University ofNorth Carolina at Greensboro Schmidhuber, Guillermo. In Collaboration with Olga Martha Pena Doria. The Three Secular Plays of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. A Critical Study. Trans. Shelby G. Thacker. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 2000. xiv + 208 pp. ISBN 0-8131-2088-8. In seven chapters, referred in the book to as seven "Critical Acts," Guillermo Schmidhuber has made a major contribution to scholarship on Sor Juana's theatre. He begins by noting that the Nun's villancicgs and loas have traditionally been evaluated as part of her poetic production, whereas they should rightfully be studied as dramatic art, along with her secular plays. He points out that when this is done, it is to be noted that Sor Juana actually composed some 52 dramatic works, making her, in Schmidhuber's words, "a dramatist of the first order" (2). In the first chapter the author employs an anthropological definition of theatre first proposed by Richard Schechner in order to justify the dramatic nature of Sor Juana's numerous villancicos: each one involves ritual inside a sacred space, is in itself a festival, and effects a transformation by spectacle. He also proposes that more attention should be given to the loas, which in Sor Juana's theatre actually become one-act plays rather than the simple monologues or dialogues dictated by tradition. He traces the neglect of Sor Juana's dramatic works all the way back to Calleja's biography of her, first documenting various instances of such neglect and then recognizing the few modern critics who have actually specialized in the area of her drama. Chapter Two focuses on the sequence of the three secular plays of Sor Juana, including for the first time La segunda Celestina, a work long attributed to Agustfn de Salazar y Torres, who died in 1675 leaving it unfinished . The author explains how, finding a finished version of this same play in the library of the University of Pennsylvania, he hypothesized in 1989 that the ending could very well have been written by Sor Juana. He published the play in 1990 with a prologue by Octavio Paz and a critical study by himself. Since then, several important specialists on the Nun and her writings, including Luis Leal and Georgina Sabat-Rivers, have 152 «§ REVIEWS accepted Schmidhuber's hypothesis. After a superb study of Sor Juana's poetics for drama in Chapter Three, Schmidhuber devotes a chapter to each of the three secular dramas , La segunda Celestina, Los empenos de una casa, and Amores mas laberinto. He notes that he was able to prove Sor Juana's authorship of The Second Celestina by looking at three kinds of evidence: documentary and factual, ideological and thematic, and linguistic and statistical, and explains in detail exactly how he was able to do so. An analysis of the work follows. He then compares this play with the other two. Writing on Los empenos de una casa, Sor Juana's most important comedia, Schmidhuber analyzes not only it but also the entire "baroque festival" in which the play is but one component, that is, the loa, three canciones, two sainetes, and the sarao, claiming that the integrated whole "is a theatrical celebration like few others in the Spanish language" (102). Instead of a "cloak and dagger" play, Schmidhuber prefers the label "petticoat and perseverance" (falda y empeno) to characterize Empenos. He concludes by postulating that this play significantly prefigures the plays of Leandro Fernandez de Moratin, written in-the following century during the Enlightenment. In his analysis of Amor es mas laberinto, Schmidhuber puts forward a new hypothesis: that not only did Sor Juana write the first and third acts, as has long been known, but that she also collaborated with...