on 7 May 2010
What a beautiful play. Spanish baroque at its height. All about free will versus the Calvinist dogma of predestination. Mixed with Renaissance politics. (Students of Philip Sidney should read this!) I'd love to see an expressionist production in a gorgeous old theatre!
The translation, while very easy to read, is slightly too "modern" in tone, at least that's how it seems to me (though I haven't read the Spanish original). And the notes at the back are very superficial. Some things are explained which don't need to be, for the average reader, while other things are not explained which might benefit from a little glossing. The introduction is ok, but short. However, there's an excellent list of critical texts for further reading.
on 30 December 2005
For me, Calderon was a great discover. First book of spanish literature I read, really innocent reader, I realised how big his influence had been on world literature. His powerful way of writing and using words, although at the same time it s very synthetic, quick to read, goes straight to the heart of the subject, but leads you also in a fantastic world, the real world but dreamt...The great escape. To read.
on 18 January 2000
This is the case yes, Pedro Calderón de la Barca is one of the top playwrigths of all times. Rigth now there's just 400 years from his birthdate and in Spain we have an entire year of conmemorations, and I'm sorry, because Calderón made a tremendously serious theatre that I must learn in the school: the destiny of man, his freedom, the influence of God in human life, Heaven and Hell... In confidence, too much for me. Life is a Dream is one of his best known and written plays, but I never tasted Calderón very much and today I think few Spanish do. Too much solemnity, I think he may be compared to Wagner in music. Of course we are speaking of the best Spanish language, and his plays are as solidly built as an iron battleship, but Calderón, a wealthy person that wrote withouth economic needs, was also a soldier and a monk, the paradigmatic paladin of the Catholic Church and the most strong opponent of the reform of Luther. Certainly, being a man highly talented his plays don't are vulgar and have a deep philosophical bottom that overcomes all, but in Spain we are in general a little tired of all that. Sense of honour is really tremendous in calderonian dramas and passions and vengeances are so strong that one practically can see God - Father roaring between the clouds, all the Kings and heroes of Spain -the predestinated country on whole earth- and even the Pope judging you when you hear the perfect verses of Don Pedro. There are specialized actors in these classic authors. If you are an ordinary person of today and have the normal moral standards of modern western consumer society, then beware with the strong works of Calderón de la Barca: you may have indigestions and nigthmares during many time.