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Reviews275 HUGHES, ANN NICKERSON. Religious Imagery in the Theater of Tirso de Molina. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1984. Cloth. 152 pp. My reservations concerning this monograph all stem in varying measure from its perplexing neglect of secondary critical literature. There are precisely eight sources cited: the Obras completas of Tirso edited a) by Cotarelo, and b) by Da. Blanca de los Ríos; the Holy Bible; the Diccionario de la literature española of Bleiberg & Marías; D. Attwater 's Catholic Dictionary; the MacMillan Encyclopedia of Philosophy, vol. 7; Vossler's Lecciones sobre Tirso de Molina, and Maurel's L'Univers dramatique de Tirso de Molina. The invaluable bibliography of Williamsen & Poesse (1977) shows no sign of having been consulted at all. My doubts concern, firstly, Tirso's biography. In the Introduction we are told that Tirso's «fellow clergymen [sic] objected to the profane nature of many of his literary creations» in 1625. The thesis of the book, moreover, «attempts to establish that religious intent was not sporadic but rather a general trend within the dramatic works of Tirso de Molina» (p. ?). The notion that Dr. Hughes's study more than incidentally seeks to vindicate Fray Gabriel Téllez's true piety is bolstered by the undisguisedly polemical endnote added by Mercer UP to the effect that«Tirso was not a rebel working against these values [i.e. the mystical and spiritual religion of the Middle Ages]; he was a supporter of these values...» (p. 151). The question of Tirso's «religious intent» is a pseudoproblem. Tirso's«fellow clergymen» did not protest or condemn his work; the then General of the Mercedarian Order succored him at the Seville Chapter of 1626, and Téllez was promoted to prior of the Trujillo friary in Extremadura . The Junta de Reformación was really a cryptopolical instrument of the Count-Duke of Olivares, and the «stab in the back» came, if Ruth Lee Kennedy's Studies in Tirso (1974) is correct, from the favorite's favorite, D. Antonio Hurtado de Mendoza. Viewed in this light, Dr. Hughes's scrupulous garnering of religious imagery drawn exclusively from Tirso's sacred drama—«verbal, allegorical, and scenic» (p. x)—serves only to demonstrate the obvious: that Fray Gabriel Téllez's Mercedarian fervor was genuine. The first chapter analyzes Tirso's five autos: El colmenero divino; No le arriendo la ganancia; Los hermanos parecidos; La Ninfa del Cielo; 276BCom, Vol. 37, No. 2 (Winter 1985) and El laberinto de Creta. Although she recognizes their notorious flaws, nowhere is there any attempt made to defend Tirso's autos against the critics' charge: that they lack mastery of the allegorical technique, are trite and overliteral in their symbolism, and fall below the essays of Valdivielso, Lope and Calderón in the same vein. The discussion of the«Hagiographie Plays» in chapter 2 (Los lagos de San Vicente; the Santa Juana trilogy; La Ninfa del Cielo [comedia]; Santo y sastre) suggests that the author is at her strongest when conceiving imagery in plastic terms and describing the translation of the iconic dimension into stage effect and dramatic emotionalism. The many useful remarks on production here make one wish that a section on the staging methods available to the corrales in the first quarter of the seventeenth century had been included in the Introduction. The remaining chapters are more summary in their coverage: chapter 3 («The Biblical Plays») reviews La mejor espigadera; La vida y muerte de Herodes, and La venganza de Tamar; chapter 4 deals with«The Historico-religious Plays,» defined as a combination of indigenous Peninsular history and pious plot interest (El caballero de gracia; Doña Beatriz de Silva; La romera de Santiago, and Las quinas de Portugal). Finally, chapter 5 runs through El condenado por desconfiado and El burlador de Sevilla as «Philosophic-religious Masterpieces.» The date of 1558 instead of 1588 for Luis de Molina's Concordia seems to be a misprint rather than a solecism (p. 130), but Dr. Hughes is in a very tiny minority in supposing that Tirso sided with the Jesuits in the De auxiliis controversy and «clearly indicated his agreement with the Molinists' theory» (p. 137). The abstract...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-0928
Print ISSN
0007-5108
Pages
pp. 275-277
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-08
Open Access
No
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