Lope de Vega

Lope de Vega Carpio, Félix

Félix Lope de Vega Carpio (fā´lēks lō´pā dā vā´gä kär´pyō), 1562–1635, Spanish dramatic poet, founder of the Spanish drama, b. Madrid. Lope, born a peasant, was orphaned at an early age. He wrote the first of his nearly 1,800 plays at 12, and by 25 he was an established playwright and a celebrated wit. He was involved in countless amorous adventures and several scandals, one of which caused him to be banished from Madrid for some years. In 1588 he joined the Spanish Armada and, surviving the campaign, took up his theatrical career and acquired a lifelong patron, the duke of Sessa. Lope's first wife, Isabel de Urbino, was immortalized in his poetry and plays as Belisa. Although he wrote lyric verse and several epic poems (e.g., La hermosura de Angélica, 1502, a sequel to Ariosto's Orlando Furioso), his masterworks were his comedias. These graceful and vigorous plays combined the comic, the serious, and the ironic. Major examples are El mejor alcalde, el rey (tr. The King, the Greatest Alcade, 1936), El rey don Pedro en Madrid, El castigo sin venganza [punishment without vengeance], and Peribáñez (tr. 1937). Lope's themes were the varied aspects of honor, human dignity, justice, and the conflict of peasant and nobleman. He developed many genres, including historical drama, cloak-and-dagger love intrigues, and romantic extravaganzas, in addition to writing tragedies and religious plays. He invented a comic type known as el gracioso, which became a stalwart of Spanish theater. In 1609, Lope set down his dramatic precepts in Arte nuevo de hacer comedias [the new art of writing plays] (tr. 1914). To hold the attention of his audiences, he kept the length of his plays relatively short, consciously ignored the classical unities, convoluted his plots to produce the unexpected, and wrote so as to be easily understood by the common people. Adhering to these self-imposed rules, Lope gained the adulation of his public and the scorn of his rival, the classicist Góngora. Lope took religious orders in 1614 and achieved important church positions despite his continued love affairs. In his last years he finished La Dorotea (1632), an autobiographical novel begun in his youth. Nearly 500 of Lope's works are extant. Famed for vitality, wit, and ingenuity, they assure his position as the foremost and most prolific Spanish literary innovator.

See Four Plays of Lope de Vega (tr. with an introd. by J. G. Underhill, 1936); biography by A. Flores (1930, repr. 1969); studies by A. S. Trueblood (1974) and D. B. Drake (1978).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

FREE! The Spanish Stage in the Time of Lope de Vega
Hugo Albert Rennert.
Hispanic Society of America, 1909
Fuente Ovejuna; the Knight from Olmedo; Punishment without Revenge
Lope de Vega; Gwynne Edwards.
Oxford University Press, 1999
"?Que He De Hacer?": The Comedia as Casuistry
Kallendorf, Hilaire.
The Romanic Review, Vol. 95, No. 3, May 2004
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
To Judge through Verse: The Sonnets of Lope De Vega's la Circe and His Engagement with Literature
Mascia, Mark J.
The Romanic Review, Vol. 92, No. 3, May 2001
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Staging Premodern Drama: A Guide to Production Problems
Lee Mitchell.
Greenwood Press, 1983
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "The Spanish Theatre and Lope de Vega"
Myth and Identity in the Epic of Imperial Spain
Elizabeth B. Davis.
University of Missouri Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Gendering the Imperial Monarchy: Lope de Vega's Jerusalem Conquered"
The Literature of the Spanish People: From Roman Times to the Present Day
Gerald Brenan.
Cambridge University Press, 1951
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IX "Lope de Vega and the New Comedy"
Spain: A Short History of Its Politics, Literature, and Art from Earliest Times to the Present
Henry Dwight Sedgwick.
Little, Brown, 1926
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XXVIII "Lope de Vega"
FREE! Chapters on Spanish Literature
James Fitzmaurice-Kelly.
Archibald Constable, 1908
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VII "Lope de Vega"
FREE! Main Currents of Spanish Literature
J. D. M. Ford.
Henry Holt, 1919
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IV "The Rise of the Drama and Its Triumph in the Golden Age: Lope de Vega"
World Drama from Aeschylus to Anouilh
Allardyce Nicoll.
Harcourt Brace, 1950
Librarian’s tip: "The Spanish Stage under Lope de Vega and Calderon" begins on p. 208
The Spanish Pastoral Romances
Hugo A. Rennert.
Biblo and Tannen, 1968
Librarian’s tip: "The 'Arcadia' of Lope de Vega" begins on p. 142
The Golden Tapestry: A Critical Survey of Non-Chivalric Spanish Fiction in English Translation, 1543-1657
Dale B. J. Randall.
Duke University Press, 1963
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Lope de Vega begins on p. 103
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