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774BCom, Vol. 49, No. 1 (Summer 1997) Rissel, Hilda. Three Plays by Moreto and Their Adaptation in France. Iberica, 11. New York: Peter Lang, 1995. 164 pp. Agustín Moreto (1618-1669) was in many ways the most "modern" of the Golden Age dramatists. He did not espouse any particular national or religious ideology, he was reluctant to deviate from the established comic techniques, he fashioned characters who adhered to a normalized code of conduct, and he made sure that his audiences were entertained by the nonviolent , non-intellectual, non-political, non-religious vicissitudes ofcontemporary urban dwellers. In these kinds ofplays, the honor code is clearly ridiculed , the intense passions ofjealousy, hate, desire, fear, and remorse are mocked or denounced, and those who practice the elegant Gallic social values of mesure, justesse, bienséance, and bon goût win their appropriate spouse, to then live happily ever after. It is these aspects ofMoreto's theater that Hilda Rissel considers the reason for the dramatist's popularity in France, where Aristocratic culture—of which Arnold Hauser's chapter "The Baroque of the Catholic Courts" in The Social History ofArt still remains one ofthe best succinct descriptions—gained its firmest hold. Rissel's study dedicates a chapter each to the transposition ofEl desdén con el desdén (Molière's La princesse d'Elide), Defuera vendrá quien de casa nos echará (Thomas Corneille's Le baron d'Albikrac) and Lo que puede la aprehensión (T. Corneille's Le charme de la voix). Drawing on the scholarship ofJ. A. Castañeda, F. Casa, and R. L. Kennedy, Rissel portrays Moreto as a dramatist naturally inclined to the Neoclassical (i.e., Aristocratic Classical Baroque) values ofthe three unities, symmetrical constructions, and normative views of class, status, family, love, and marriage. Moreto's characters thus function dependently on established, predetermined notions of truth, beauty, goodness, and wisdom. They do not grow nor do they change in any way; they merely discover in the course oftheir dramatic existence who they are, their role or appropriate place in Spanish society (a formidable task in itself). Their lives are so formalized, in fact, that mistresses or masters can change façades and masquerade as servants, and vice versa, without incurring any psychological changes to their character nor affecting in any way the caste system ofdesignated roles. Moreto is thus the consummate accommodative artist, plying a comedie vision that is—while sensitive to the varied class and gender structures in his society—aristocratic and paternalistic. "Moreto," Rissel observes, "though sympathetic to some feminine claims, is in basic agreement with the inferior position accorded them. ... By ending his plays with his female characters' acceptance of male dominance and marriage, Moreto restored the traditional order of Reviews115 society and thus did not alienate his audience" (134-35). Nevertheless, Rissel insists correctly that it is Moreto's exceptionally passionate and lifelike presentations of the female protagonist which most appealed to the French dramatists, indicated by their changing the titles of Moreto's plays to highlight the female role rather than the male's dramatic ruse to win her. Where Rissel stumbles is in the persistent use ofthe terms ofcourtly love and Neoplatonism to describe the romantic entanglements constructed by Moreto. Neither vogue has anything at all to do with the mutual sexual attraction of two similarly disposed young people who have no intention to grow socially or intellectually, which is the typical New Comedy structure described so well by Northrop Frye forty years ago in The Anatomy of Criticism and A Natural Perspective, and which Moreto accommodates to the social strictures ofaristocratic comportment. Despite some minor errata in editing and an uneven bibliographic style, Rissel's book has valuable observations on both Moreto and his French adapters that extend the comparative analysis ofthe two initiated in the last century by A. de Puibusque and E. Martinenche, but that recent scholars inexplicably neglected. David H Darst Florida State University Enriquez Gómez, Antonio. The Perfect King/El rey másperfecto. Introduction , edition, and translation by Michael McGaha. Tempe, Arizona: Bilingual Press, 1991. Paper, lxiv + 163 pp. In a 1957 article Charles Aubrun suggested that the prolific but long-neglected converso author...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-0928
Print ISSN
0007-5108
Pages
pp. 114-115
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-08
Open Access
No
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