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A Reappraisal of Tirso's Relations to Lope and his Theatre' Ruth Lee Kennedy, The University of Arizona The pattern of Tirso's relations to Lope and his theatre is, at present, far from clear. Too much, I believe, has been taken for granted. What real evidence is there, for instance, of any personal contact between the two poets in Toledo? When did the Mercedarian write his most eloquent defense of the Lopean comedy: i.e., the defense found in the Cigarrales de Toledo? When did he begin his active support of Lope's theatre, and when did die master of that genre first take cognizance of the gifts that Tirso (i.e., Gabriel Téllez) came bearing? In what year did Tirso's faith in Lope begin to falter? What brought about a change of attitude on the part of both dramatists? What were their relations in the 1630's? These are some of the questions which we shall hope to resolve —or, where solution at this time seems impossible, to bring into clearer focus for future investigation. Tirso's theatre undoubtedly had its first fine flowering in Toledo,2 and just as certainly mat flowering sprang from the soil which Lope's formula had prepared . (What young dramatist of Spain, unless he were of classical persuasion , would not find fertile that same soil,—regardless of his geographical provenance!) But the assumption that mere existed close personal ties between the two men in Toledo rests on a very tenuous foundation. So, too, does that which would find in Tirso a defender of Lope's theatre before 1620. There is, in so far as I know, no historical proof whatsoever to show that a fledging Tirso of 1604-1607 was friend to a Lope whose very name would soon become a household proverb for all that was excellent. The warm defense of the Lopean comedy, found in the Cigarrales, was certainly written after 1618, and almost certainly in 1620-21. Moreover, as we shall soon see, it is not only possible but even highly probable that the glorification of the Lopean comedy which one reads in El vergonzoso en palacio and in Tanto es lo demás como lo de menos, should be ascribed to that same general period, not to 1611-12, as has been argued. Even the apology of La firmeza en la hermosura, wherein Tirso has defended the comedia as licit entertainment for a young king, belongs to 1621. Documentary investigations3 have shown that Tirso's presence in Toledo could have coincided with Lope's there only in 1604-1607 and again possibly in the summer of 1615. Lope's residence in the Imperial City is attested between 1604-1610; Tirso's between 1604-1607 and 1612-15. In April of 1616, Tirso went to Santo Domingo, and having returned from that island in 1618, he was in Toledo on September 30th of that year, at which time he signed, along with the other Mercedarians of that city, a document affirming their "adhesiones al Misterio de la Concepción."4 It must have been about this same time that Tirso established, or reestablished , his contacts with some of the owners of the city's cigarrales,—in particular with those of the lovely "Buenavista." For it was in that fine cigarral, whose description Elisio Medinilla has left us, that El vergonzoso 23 was put on as a particular, having first gained fame through long years (as the dramatist himself tells us) in the commercial theatre of Spain. Tirso, himself, was not present at this performance —he speaks of himself as "the absent poet"—but he evidently received a detailed description of all that occurred on that occasion, one that argues strongly that he was in close touch with the owners of that fine estate.5 When Tirso wrote his first cigarral, certain things are evident: 1) the old Archbishop, Don Bernardo de Sandoval y Rojas, who had owned Buenavista , was now dead6 but his inheritors, "don Alejo" and "doña Irene," were carrying on the tradition of literary support which had characterized that Maecenas; 2) the representation of El vergonzoso took place at a time when the Aristotelians...


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