The Medieval Theater in Castile

The Medieval Theater in Castile

The Medieval Theater in Castile

The Medieval Theater in Castile

Excerpt

When I enrolled in Joseph Eugene Gillet’s course in early Spanish drama at the University of Pennsylvania in 1952, little did I realize that his class would shape my scholarly pursuits for decades to come. As a young graduate student, I was awed by this man who knew so much. I was fascinated by his insights into the Auto de los Reyes Magos, his sensitivity to the naive shepherds in Fr. Iñigo de Mendoza’s Vita Christi, his appreciation of the prominent role assigned to the ancient prophets and sibyls in medieval drama, and his firm belief that the much touted gap between the Auto de los Reyes Magos and Gómez Manrique’s plays was more mirage than reality. Unfortunately, Joseph Gillet did not live to see his prophetic view of the early Spanish theater come true. He died in 1958 just a year before he was to retire from teaching. Thus he never knew the wealth of evidence of theatrical activity that would eventually come to light. Nor did he pen the book that for decades was foremost in his thoughts. Although this is not the book he would have written, I hope it captures some of his enthusiasm and conviction. It does not aspire to be the definitive study of the medieval theater in Castile. How can it be when the historical record is still fragmentary? I do not answer questions as much as raise them, as I invite the reader to look at the extant evidence from a new, more promising perspective based on a broad, medieval definition of theater. Consequently, scattered throughout the volume are words like “perhaps,” “apparently,” “tentatively,” which I hope will some day yield to more definitive modifiers.

Some of the descriptive material based on ledgers from Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, Murcia, Seville, and Toledo which appears in articles that I wrote for the Greenwood Companion to the Medieval Theater, edited by Ronald Vince (1989) is included in chapter 6 in a much revised form. The English translations of citations in Latin and in modern European languages are mine save the translations of Isidore of Seville . . .

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