The Theatre of Don Juan: A Collection of Plays and Views, 1630-1963

The Theatre of Don Juan: A Collection of Plays and Views, 1630-1963

The Theatre of Don Juan: A Collection of Plays and Views, 1630-1963

The Theatre of Don Juan: A Collection of Plays and Views, 1630-1963

Excerpt

"The speaking in a perpetual hyperbole is comely in nothing but love," Francis Bacon wrote more than three centuries ago in his essay upon that inexhaustibly bemusing subject. As though to show how right the Englishman was, and just possibly in the very year in which the words were written, a Spanish monk was bringing Don Juan into the world: the most hyperbolical of lovers, destined to place one thousand and three of his own countrywomen on an immortal list.

The great adorer -- and satirist -- of women performed so well that many persons think of him to this day as a man who lived and created his legend out of his own deeds. In 1835, an imaginative or negligent historian, Louis Viardot, even advanced the claim that the story of Don Juan Tenorio could be be read in an old chronicle of Seville. This Tenorio, member of an illustrious family and companion of Don Pedro the Cruel ( 1350-1369), was supposed to have carried off the daughter of the Commander of the Order of Calatrava and to have murdered the latter, who was barring his way. For this and for similar crimes the powerful monks of the Convent of San Francisco in Seville lured him into the church, arrested him, tried him, and secretly executed him. They allowed the rumor to be spread that Don Juan had been cast into Hell by the memorial statue of the Commander.1 Viardot's report was credited, or at least respected, for almost a century. But Spanish investigators, rummaging among the archives of Seville and other cities, could find no trace of the story, and today all scholars agree that Don Juan -- in English, plain Sir John -- and his adventures are fictions as pure as the fiction of Don Quixote. There was once an important family in Seville called Tenorio, but the only possible conclusion to be drawn from this lone fact is that Don Juan's creator borrowed the ancient name to give his tale the appearance of truth.

The man who created Don Juan was a monk and dramatist of the first half of the seventeenth century, Gabriel Téllez?, better known as Tirso de Molina?, and considered today one of the four best playwrights of Spain's Golden Age. In 1630 a play entitled El Burlador deSevilla y convidado de piedra . .

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