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worked on Thompson's Motif-Index."— "Can a criteria be made so clear that a classification could be had distinguishing themes, motifs, etc."—"No two persons could read a comedia and see the same motif."— "After we made it, how valuable would it really be? "—"More needed is to know how these themes or motifs function in the realm of dramatic art; aesthetic understanding is the need, rather than a scientific classification ."—"Just the action alone of a play, disregarding theses and concepts, is not important enough."—"I should prefer to carry a few principal themes, rather than motifs, through a large number of comedias." As a sort of minority report, let us hear one affirmative comment: "I would be in favor of such a project and would be willing to serve on it." The same person went on to say that she would also be in favor of our forming a sort of "comedia-bink" to help future generations know what Lope and others meant. This is a most worthy idea— and why not start it soon enough to give some help to the present generation? The Comediantes did not, then, as a group adopt the project of attempting a plot-index for the Comedia. Subsequently, however, a number of those present have formulated plans for pursuing the idea, and hope to learn whether or not an index is really feasible .—R.R. About Themes, Motifs, and an Index by Arnold G. Reichenberger University of Pennsylvania Professor John Esten Keller has rendered a most valuable service to the students of the Comedia in meeting the problem of motif-classification head-on and generously providing us with a target plane at which guided and unguided missiles can be fired at will. (The alert comediante will note that the foregoing simile is inspired by Professor Keller's own 'trial-balloon' motif [Bulletin, V, 18] plus newspaper reports about "Nike".) Chairman Wade asked me to think through Professor Keller's article and to provide this conference with a further basis for discussion . In order to carry out the assignment I have analyzed La vida es sueño for motifs and asked myself a number of questions. It was a fortunate coincidence that I could discuss the problems with a graduate class. 1. The first question to be answered is: Why a motif-index for the Comedia? The Comedia is a unique literary phenomenon by virtue of the fertility of its production, which, in turn, was furthered by an unceasing demand. This demand could be met only if there were certain dramatic formulae accepted by dramatist and public. Every reader of the Comedia is more or less vaguely aware of the existence of such a formula, but, on the other hand, he cannot fail to take into account the great variations to be observed within the framework of the formula. A motif-index would go far to illuminate the workings of this dramatic formula in its variegated aspects. The Comedia, a "collective enterprise" made possible by the complete conformity in sentiment and ideology between dramatist and public, is nothing but one theme, Spain, with infinite variations. The Comedia as a genre of literature is related to folk-tale and exempla literature, which also presupposes complete conformity between story-teller and mass-audience. Yet, despite the obvious homogeneity of the Comedia as a genre, the single comedia is still the work of one (or sometimes more than one) individual dramatist who makes a more or less conscious use of motifs according to his own taste, ability, and genius. We should, therefore, never forget that a motif-index can only be a tool, a very precious tool to be sure, primarily designed to discover in the main what a given comedia has in common with others There is certainly danger that an analysis of the motifs of a comedia may completely miss the heart of the matter, the nucleus of the poetic inspiration. The seven motifs into which La vida es sueño is dissolved by Profes- sor Keller (pp. 17-18) are all there, but the sum total of the seven motifs is far from showing what La vida es sueño really means...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-0928
Print ISSN
0007-5108
Pages
pp. 9-11
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-08
Open Access
No
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