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.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
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.