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Reviewed by:
  • El secreto a voces by Pedro Calderón de la Barca
  • Margaret R. Greer
Pedro Calderón de la Barca.
El secreto a voces. Editado por Wolfram Aichinger, Simon Kroll y Fernando Rodríguez-Gallego.
Edition Reichenberger, 2015. 510 Pp.

WITH THIS EXCELLENT EDITION OF CALDERÓN’S El secreto a voces, Wolfram Aichinger, Simon Kroll, and Fernando Rodríguez-Gallego have made a major contribution not only to comedia studies, but also to the larger fields of early modern Spanish literature and European literary and political relations. Despite Calderón’s importance as one of early modern Europe’s greatest dramatists, we still lack good critical editions of many of his comedias. The textual history of El secreto a voces is complex, in keeping with much of the Calderonian corpus. First, there are two manuscripts: Calderón’s autograph (BNE Res. 117) written in 1642 for the autor de comedias Antonio de Prado, and a partial manuscript in the Hispanic Society of America (HSA B2616). In addition, the editors speak of two significant sueltas—the first technically a desglosable (or extractable) in the Parte cuarenta y dos de comedias de diferentes autores (Zaragoza, Pedro Escuer, 1650), and the second, the deluxe suelta published by Matheo Cosmerovio in Vienna in 1671. Finally, there is the version published by Vera Tassis in the Sexta parte of Calderón’s comedias (1683). Excepting the deluxe suelta, each version has its descendants, making El secreto a voces a prime candidate for the attention given it by its primary editors and the collaborators listed in their “Presentación” (ix–x).

This scholarly team made an exhaustive study of Calderón’s well-used manuscript, much emended by the dramatist and at least three other hands, plus that of censor Juan Navarro de Espinosa. (The three hands, originally labeled “Manos” numbers M508, M509, and M510 in the Manos Teatrales website and so cited in this edition, are labeled “Personas” P929, 930, and 931 in the updated website The editors discuss, with illustrations, the passages boxed for omission, both those with alterations in adjacent verses (apparently in Calderón’s hand) and those similarly boxed, but without adjacent alteration. These potential cuts yielded possible shortened versions of those passages, and none appears in later witnesses. The editors’ conclusions on the basis of graphemes, boxing style, and ink color are generally [End Page 125] persuasive. The lines of the gracioso servant Fabio, which touch on religious questions and ecclesiastical figures and which were marked for omission by the censor, along with subsequent allusions to the funny cuento Fabio told (which M508 apparently marked for omission if the cuento was cut), were transmitted to later texts, presumably because they were humorously relevant to the difficult situation of the protagonists, Laura and Federico. The editors’ textual study also considers possible identifications for the copyist Fern[an] d[o] Ponce de León, who signed and dated the HSA manuscript in Madrid on March 31, 1668. A stain—perhaps caused by an erasure—makes reading the signature problematic, but I have read it as “Fernando.” Alejandra Ulla Lorenzo (“El mayor encanto, amor” de Calderón de la Barca, fiesta cortesana. Estudio y edición. Dissertation, U de Santiago de Compostela, 2011, p. 391) suggests that he might have been an actor / autor de comedias who copied the manuscript for its performance in Madrid, by his own company, or that of Manuel Vallejo, when the corrales were reopened in 1667–68; or, the editors suggest, the actor Francisco Ponce, who in 1667–68 was part of the company of Jerónimo Vallejo.

The edition opens with detailed and condensed summaries of the plot of this delightful play, in which lovers Federico, secretary to Flérida, duchess of Parma, and Laura, the Duchess’s cousin and confidant, fend off the attentions both of the Duchess, who is enamored of Federico, and of Lisardo, the cousin to whom Laura’s father (governor of Parma), has promised her hand. Federico is helped by his friend Enrique, governor of the rival kingdom of Mantua, who arrives in Parma pretending to be his own secretary in order to see and court Fl...


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