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Reviewed by:
  • Fiestas de Denia
  • Alexander J. Mcnair
Lope de Vega . Fiestas de Denia. Ed. M. G. Profeti. Secolo d' Oro 41. Florence: Alinea Editrice, 2004. 259 pp. index. append. illus. €22. ISBN: 88–8125–825–0.

One of the challenges to modern scholars of Lope de Vega is the lack of well-annotated critical editions of his texts. The prolific poet-playwright, whom Cervantes referred to as the Monster of Nature, is himself partially to blame. With more than 400 extant plays — he purportedly wrote more than 1,500 — Lope's immense output seems to exhaust even the most energetic of critics. To date, the only "complete" edition of his plays is to be found in the multivolume series begun by Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo for the Real Academia Española around 1890 and finished a generation later in the 1930s. The massive folio-sized volumes of this RAE edition print the plays in double columns, are far from critical, and are never annotated. The publisher Turner (Madrid) has been releasing Lope's Obras completas a volume at a time for more than a decade now. The volumes of this series are handsomely printed and bound, use manuscript and early printed texts when possible, but lack even the most basic notes that readers of modern editions of Shakespeare and Cervantes have come to expect. Only a handful of individual plays is published separately in truly critical editions (taking into consideration and noting all textual witnesses) with helpful contextualizing notes. The situation of Lope's lyric poetry has improved in the last decade or so with the work of editors Felipe B. Pedraza Jiménez (Lope de Vega, Rimas, 2 vols. [1993-94]) and Antonio [End Page 172] Carreño (Lope de Vega, Rimas humanas y otros versos [1998]). Their editions, though more narrowly focused on Lope's Rimas — published first in 1602 and expanded in 1604 and 1609 — far surpass the previously standard edition of Lope's poetry by José Manuel Blecua (Obra poética [1969]) because they provide ample introductions, exhaustive content notes, complete bibliographies, and multiple indices and appendices. While the two editors may disagree on their criteria for establishing an authoritative text for the collection — Pedraza chooses a Seville 1604 edition as his base text and preserves its orthography, while Carreño prefers the famous 1609 edition — they both note all variants (an essential tool for scholars), and their completeness will help focus future generations of scholarship on the collection. It is hoped that similar editions will appear for the rest of Lope's lyric collections, indeed for all of his literary undertakings.

One such undertaking has been admirably edited in the volume under review here. Fiestas de Denia is Lope's verse testimonial (in 198 octaves) of the celebrations given by the Marquis of Denia to honor Philip III during his 1599 visit to the marquis's estate on the Mediterranean coast near Valencia. Valencia was to be the location of the double wedding of Philip III (recently crowned) to Margaret of Austria and Philip's sister Isabel Clara Eugenia to the Austrian Archduke Albert (the latter couple on their way to assume control of the Hapsburg's Flemish territories). The royal weddings were originally planned for Barcelona, but in his insightful introduction historian Bernardo J. García García cites documents that point to the political expedience of such an event in Valencia — a move that also signaled Philip III's increasing confidence in his chief counselor, the Marquis of Denia (soon to be granted the title Duke of Lerma). Lope's 1,584-verse account is the kind of occasional poetry that generations of critics either ignored or read superficially in search of biographical data. More recently, Fiestas de Denia and other poems like it have been reexamined in light of New-Historicist approaches, and our understanding of these works in their social as well as literary contexts has greatly improved: see, for example, Elizabeth Wright's Pilgrimage to Patronage: Lope de Vega and the Court of Philip III, 1598-1621 (2001). Yet much of this scholarship has been done without the benefit of modern critical editions such as the one that...


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