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  • El santo rey don Fernando (Segunda parte) by Pedro Calderón de la Barca
  • Roy Norton
Pedro Calderón de la Barca.
El santo rey don Fernando (Segunda parte). Editado por Carmen Pinillos.
Edition Reichenberger, 2016. 200 Pp.

EL SANTO REY DON FERNANDO WAS COMPOSED BY CALDERÓN in two parts, both of them first staged at Madrid’s Corpus Christi celebrations in 1671, the year that began with the canonization of King Ferdinand III of Castile and Leon. His life provides the primary inspiration for the action of this pair of autos. The primera parte, edited jointly by Ignacio Arellano, J. Manuel Escudero, and M. Carmen Pinillos, was published in 1999 as volume 27 of the “Autos sacramentales completos” series. It is surely a cause for celebration that, seventeen years on, the segunda parte is at last available, as volume 93 of this important collection that has earned a sterling reputation on the bases of both the accuracy and clarity of the dramatic texts it offers and the utility and meticulous preparation of the accompanying apparatus and introductory studies. This edition, by Carmen Pinillos alone this time, succeeds in maintaining these high standards of scholarship, and her experience as an editor of Calderón’s sacramental dramas shines through.

The segunda parte dramatizes, as one might expect, episodes from the latter part of the life of Fernando el Santo. The action can be divided into three blocks of unequal length. The first and the longest concerns the conquest of Seville from the Moors (vv. 1–1499). The second has as its focus the miraculous crafting by two angels of the Virgen de los Reyes statue (vv. 1500–2019). And in the third block the king’s exemplary death is enacted (vv. 2020–244). Fernando dies dressed humbly as a Third Order Franciscan, showing penitence and having recently received the viaticum. With this final plot detail, Calderón ensures that this auto historial alegórico ends with an unmissable nod to the Eucharistic sacrament, which, according to Parker (famously), constitutes the exclusive theme of the autos. In other respects the segunda parte of El santo rey does not strongly resemble the quintessential Calderonian auto. Notwithstanding either the allegorical presentation of the king as a typus Christi or the abstract unifying thread provided by the motif of the theological virtue of hope, compared to many a Calderón auto, the action feels relatively literal and representational. Indeed, it bears a noticeable resemblance to the period’s comedias de santos, a matter to which [End Page 121] Pinillos devotes interesting analysis in her introductory study. Whereas the allegorical content is relatively muted, and there does not appear to be an attempt to tease out in a sustained, didactic manner the detail of any discrete doctrine, the influence of the saints’ plays on the emphases and structure of the plot is indeed easily discernible. (These several atypical features led Daniel Heiple to argue that Calderón’s two San Fernando autos might constitute an adaptation of a pre-existing comedia de santo.) El santo rey don Fernando can be considered a hybrid work, then, blending features of two of the most emblematic and popular sub-genres of Golden Age drama.

In conformity with the pattern established by earlier volumes in this series, the introduction (7–61) prioritizes textual and performative matters over literary interpretation. It begins with a synoptic study of the “autoría, fecha y representaciones” of the segunda parte (referring the reader back to the edition of the primera parte for observations of a more general kind concerning the 1671 Corpus celebrations). There follows a brief note on versification, after which Pinillos provides an overview of the textual history of the piece and a reasoned justification of the approach taken to its editing. As regards this latter matter, Pinillos observes that the textual challenges presented by El santo rey are relatively modest, since the princeps is “de notable garantía” (42), appearing as it does in the 1677 Primera parte of Calderón’s autos, in whose preparation the playwright had a hand. The text of this edition is based squarely on the princeps. Affirming its authority...


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