Thursday, April 30, 2009

1600 to 1699: The Lady of Pleasure -- Wonder Working Magician

James Shirley. British. 1635. Play. The Lady of Pleasure. Taming an extravagant wife by imitating her behavior.

Calderon. Spanish. 1636. Play. Life Is a Dream. One of the outstanding Spanish dramas of all time. Explores the mysteries of human destiny, the illusory nature of mundane existence. Conflict between predestination and will. Sigismundo learns that all life is a dream and that virtue and nobility give meaning to the dream.

Corneille. French. 1637. Play. Le Cid. Marks the beginning of the modern French drama. Compressed the original material into a swiftly moving play. Argued with and reconciled with Alfonso VI. Exiled. Fought both for and against Moorish rulers. Defeat of the Count of Barcelona. Capture of Valencia. Reconciled with the king. Revenge on his sons-in-law who mistreated his daughters after they were married.

John Milton. Britain. 1637. Poetry. Elegy. Lycidas. Commemorates the death of Edward King, a Cambridge schoolmate. Deals with a world in which the good die young and false priests and poets prevail. Ultimately, God’s justice will prevail on earth. Virtue is rewarded in heaven. True genius is interconnected and immortal. A poem of self-renewal and dedication to a great work ahead.

Calderon. Spanish. 1637. Play. The Wonder-Working Magician (El Magico Prodigioso). Reminiscent of the Faust legend. Pagan makes pact with the devil to gain the love of a Christian. The devil tempts her in vain. The pagan admires her virtue and becomes a Christian. Both are martyred at the hands of the Roman governor.

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