Pedro Calderón de la Barca
Life Is a Dream is a work many hold to be the supreme example of Spanish Golden Age drama. Imbued with highly poetic language and humanist ideals, it is an allegory that considers contending themes of free will and predestination, illusion and reality, played out against the backdrop of court intrigue and the restoration of personal honor.
In the mountainous barrens of Poland, the rightful heir to the kingdom has been imprisoned since birth in an attempt by his father to thwart fate. Meanwhile, a noblewoman arrives to seek revenge against the man who deceived and forsook her love for the prospect of becoming king of Poland. Richly symbolic and metaphorical, Life Is a Dream explores the deepest mysteries of human experience.
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From the Trade Paperback edition.
Acclaimed for his superb dramatic instincts and philosophical seriousness as well as his extraordinary imagination, Calderón exercised his best qualities in this allegorical play, an exploration of the mysteries of human destiny, the illusory nature of earthly existence, and the struggle between predestination and free will. The story revolves around the moral dilemmas of a Polish prince, unjustly imprisoned by his suspicious father. Against a background of revolution, Calderón builds a dramatic edifice of outstanding theatricality, rich in symbolism and metaphor, expressed in magnificent poetry.
This excellent new English translation is absolutely complete, and as close and direct as possible. Ample footnotes and an informative introductory Publisher's Note enhance the value of its modest price.
For this edition, Stanley Appelbaum has written an informative introduction and an excellent new literal translation that appears on pages facing the Spanish original. A valuable text for students of Spanish language and literature, this volume will delight any reader interested in classics from Spain's Golden Age of drama.
In The Mayor of Zalamea, commissioned by the Royal National Theatre, peasants’ honour clashes with military discipline. Life’s a Dream is Calderón’s most famous philosophical play. The Great Theatre of the World is an allegorical work that would originally have been performed in the street to the accompaniment of music and dancing.
These are comedies of intrigue. They turn on mysterious, quarrels, and jealousies, and they abound in complication and misunderstandings, yet in the end all is explained, to the delight of the audience. Muir's long experience with acting and directing and his keen ear for the nuances of the English language, together with his perceptive critical scholarship, have enabled him to produce a text that actors can speak naturally, and that modern audiences can enjoy as did the audiences of seventeenth-century Spain. The graceful, poetical dialogue and the masterly stagecraft of Calderón are undiminished in these deft translations.
The plays featured are From Bad to Worse, The Secret Spoken Aloud, The Worst is Not Always Certain, and The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Name. Ann L. Mackenzie has provided an introduction to each play and notes on the text that will be useful to the actors and directors who seek to present these comedies as they were intended -- on the stage.