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Reviewed by:
  • El príncipe viñador
  • D. Gene Pace
Vélez de Guevara, Luis . El príncipe viñador. Ed. William R. Manson and C. George Peale. Introd. Juan Matas Caballero. Newark: Juan de la Cuesta, 2008. 286 pp.

With their excellent critical edition of Luis Vélez de Guevara's Spanish drama El príncipe viñador (c. 1615), William R. Manson and C. George Peale have made another valuable contribution to their already prolific editorial work vis-à-vis the dramas of this Golden Age dramatist. Written in Spanish, this fine addition to the Juan de la Cuesta series, which Manson and Peale have created, features an illuminating introduction by Juan Matas Caballero (13-143) that deals with questions of sources and genre and provides a technical analysis of the play. Matas Caballero also provides details regarding the various poetic forms (redondillas, romances, quintillas, etc.) and the correlation of these types with dramatic content. His perceptive sections on disguises, dreams, musical lyricism, mythological references, and legendary and historical references also enrich this excellent introduction.

This edition fills an important gap in the study of an under-studied drama. Vélez, a disciple of Lope de Vega, drew on history for thematic content but, like Lope, valued artistic creation over historical accuracy. Likely sources of El príncipe viñador are the romance "Mientras yo podo las viñas" (from which the theme derives), Don Duardos (Gil Vicente's drama that supplies the names of protagonists Duardo and Flérida), El vaquero de Moraña (Lope's play with a similar plot), and two early seventeenth-century comedies that draw inspiration from the romance "Mientras yo podo las viñas."

The plot of El príncipe viñador revolves around an honor-versus-love dilemma. This story of Neoplatonic and courtly love is told in poetic form. Children of kings, prince Duardo of Navarra and princess Flérida of León fall in love when their eyes meet during their initial encounter (vv. 121-22). The love-motivated flight of the protagonists heightens the tension, and the transformation of the protagonists into common laborers, jornaleros de amor (v. 2391), appeals to human interest. Dressed in the common clothing of the criado/gracioso Tirreno, Duardo leaves the courtly life and flees from Doña Blanca, the infanta de Castilla, whom he was expected to marry. Flérida transforms the prince into a loco enamorado. In good Neoplatonic form, Flérida suffers from melancholy. Both protagonists privilege love over honor. Vélez blends serious [End Page 148] action and comedy and emphasizes other recurring themes of the era, such as sociopolitical harmony and promonarchical sentiment. Reconciliation and peace ultimately replace tension. Two weddings contribute to plot resolution and to political harmony in the kingdoms of Aragón, Castilla, León, and Navarra. This restoration exemplifies the use of theater to promote political unity and to encourage national theater. Lope is commonly credited with playing a major role in this arena, and Vélez de Guevara likewise deserves credit.

Manson and Peale provide helpful notes, e.g., "sierpes de crystal [v. 332]: metafóricamente, ríos" (262), as well as a useful index of the terms that are clarified by the notes. They have also included a solid bibliography. Moreover, the layout of the drama itself is nicely spaced (161-253), and footnotes illuminate specific differences between three earlier versions of the play. A yet more careful proofreading is needed, however. For instance, the explanatory note for stage direction "FF" is mislabeled "GG" (278), and on the following page "frase" is misspelled "phrase." Minor problems notwithstanding, this edition of El príncipe viñador belongs in quality literature collections and will be of value to scholars and readers who are interested in the work of the masterful playwright who is perpetually overshadowed by his prolific contemporary, Lope de Vega. [End Page 149]

D. Gene Pace
Claflin University


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