Holy Wednesday: A Nahua Drama from Early Colonial Mexico

Holy Wednesday: A Nahua Drama from Early Colonial Mexico

Holy Wednesday: A Nahua Drama from Early Colonial Mexico

Holy Wednesday: A Nahua Drama from Early Colonial Mexico

Synopsis

Identified only in 1986, the Nahuatl Holy Week play is the earliest known dramatic script in any Native American language. In Holy Wednesday, Louise Burkhart presents side-by-side English translations of the Nahuatl play and its Spanish source. An accompanying commentary analyzes the differences between the two versions to reveal how the native author altered the Spanish text to fit his own aesthetic sensibility and the broader discursive universe of the Nahua church. A richly detailed introduction places both works and their creators within the cultural and political contexts of late sixteenth-century Mexico and Spain.

Excerpt

Little is known about the author of the Spanish drama, except that he was a Valencian bookseller and a devotee of the Virgin Mary. Archival records in Valencia attest that Izquierdo was named a councilor of the parish of Santa Cruz in 1585. He dictated his last will and testament on September 20, 1596 (Martí Grajales 1927:281). An Izquierdo alluded to in a work by the great Spanish dramatist Lope de Vega may be this Valencian author (Barrera y Leirado 1860:196-97; Pérez Gómez 1976-77:505-6).

Izquierdo's earliest recorded publishing venture is a work of 1566 entitled Relox de Namorados, a collection of songs by diverse authors including some of his own works. After Izquierdo and a brother of his experienced what they believed was a miracle wrought by Our Lady of Puig, Valencia's principal Marian advocation, Izquierdo wrote a history of the Puig shrine, which was published in 1575. Bibliographers also list a Quaderno espiritual of 1577, containing eight poems about the Passion of Christ, and a 1589 play dramatizing a miracle of the Virgin of the Rosary. All these works were printed in Valencia (Ximeno 1747:I, 187; Barrera y Leirado 1860:196- 97; Martí Grajales 1927:281).

The drama called Lucero de Nuestra Salvación, or "Beacon of Our Salvation," appears to be Izquierdo's only work to break out of the local Valencian press and to undergo several reprintings. Its publication record is somewhat confused and incomplete. the earliest edition may have been issued in Seville in 1582, but it seems that no one has laid eyes on this imprint for many years. in 1860, Barrera y Leirado catalogued an edition bearing the name of Sevillian printer Fernando Maldonado and the date 1532 (1860:197). This date must be incorrect, according to Escudero y Perosso (1894:272), because Maldonado did not begin publishing until 1582. It is . . .

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