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LOPE DE VEGA, PROPAGANDIST?* CHARLOTTE STERN Randolph-Macon Woman's College I In recent years the two most important schools of literary criticism have moved in opposite directions, but converge in their neglect of the artist as creator and of the work of art as a unique creation . One school, embracing the Russian formalists, French structuralists , American New Critics, and now the Tel Quel group (Barthes , Derrida, Baudrillard), inhabits an increasingly complex and abstract world in which the critic is locked inside the text. The text appears as an autonomous, self-contained entity, isolated from its author, its social context, and its public' On the other hand, the sociological approach, focusing as it must on groups, assigns the author to a socioeconomic class, his work to a cultural group, and then attempts to discover the relationship between the two. Consequently , both schools have the effect of diminishing and ultimately eliminating the writer. These approaches have piqued the interest of critics of Golden Age drama. The generic name comedia, which tends to minimize differences , and the inordinate number and seeming homogeneity of the plays would appear to validate the search for universal structures. 2 Likewise the anonymity of many plays, confusion over authorship, frequency of collaboration, reworking of earlier plays, and, most important , the comedia's mass appeal invite sociological analysis. The following pages explore the sociological approach as it concerns Lope de Vega. / 2 Bulletin of the Comediantes II In Lope de Vega y su tiempo Karl Vossler sees Lope's comedias as a ringing endorsement of the ideals of his age. ' The poet's compatibility with his time so defines his dramatic vision that, according to Vossler, «Lope nunca reconoció un mundo extraespañol y extraeclesi ástico. Le vuelve la espalda como si no existiera .... En todos los sentimientos, deseos, hábitos del pensar y prejuicios predominantes, va Lope de acuerdo con su nación» (pp. 254ff.). So in tune was Lope with his contemporaries that the dominant beliefs became «una segunda naturaleza en él y fundamento de toda su producci ón escénica» (pp. 301f.). Moreover, in his analysis of the political, social, and religious content of Lope's comedias Vossler calls attention only in passing to the discrepancy between Lope's image and seventeenth-century reality: «Sobre todo, falta todo sentimiento y toda conciencia de que Ia España de sus días empieza a declinar, de que es desbordada económica, política y culturalmente, y que casi puede decirse que cada año caen algunas hojas de su corona de laureles» (p. 356). While Vossler acknowledges the incongruity between life and art, refers to the comedia'?, illusionist character, and cautions against its uncritical use as an historical document, he prefers to stress Lope's delight in Spain's greatness, heroism, and religious zeal, as well as her dynamics of love, honor, and racial purity. This emphasis is hardly surprising since Castro's De la edad conflictiva is still thirty years away. Amado Alonso confirms Vossler's perceptions in «Lope de Vega y sus fuentes. »' He describes the playwright as Spain's «representativo por antonomasia» (p. 195), and reminds us that neither in his life nor his work was Lope a dissident but rather «el más grande poeta de la conformidad... el genio de la adecuación» (pp. 196f.). Alonso enumerates those values which Lope extolled in his theatre: el amor, el instinto de paternidad, los sentimientos de nación y fe religiosa, los casos de la honra, la estructura jerárquica social y el sentido radical y humano de justicia, el valor personal y la admisión sin esfuerzo de valores rivales y enemigos, la cortesía y el celo de la esfera personal y en todo momento el impulso de la acción y la inagotable alegría de goce vital» (p. 196). But Alonso does not scrutinize the relationship between these ideals and their corresponding social realities. Nor does he ponder the unfortunate results when they are pursued to excess. Rather, he Stern3 characterizes the world in which Lope was born as «pletòrico de vida y de fuerza que parecía de molde para aquella su naturaleza privilegiada» (p. 196). He...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-0928
Print ISSN
0007-5108
Pages
pp. 1-36
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-08
Open Access
No
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