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Life Is a Dream (Eric Bentley's Dramatic Repertoire) Paperback – 31 Jul 1996

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Applause Theatre Book Publishers; Reprint edition (31 July 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557830061
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557830067
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.9 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,018,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This high-caliber collection was singled out for praise in Harold Bloom's "The Western Canon" as a Great Book. Roy Campbell is a miraculous translator. Included here are Calderon's "Life is a Dream," Lope de Vega's "Fuente Ovejuna," and Tirso de Molina's "Don Juan"--masterpieces one and all. Don't deny yourself this book, and if you like this, look for David Johnston's translations of Lope de Vega's "Madness in Valencia" and "The Gentleman from Olmedo," Edwin Honig's superb translation "Calderon: Six Plays," Paul Whitworth's translation of Tirso de Molina's "Revenge of Tamar," and Laurence Boswell's translation of Molina's "Don Gil of the Green Breeches" and "Damned for Despair." Fair warning: once you start reading these, you won't be able to stop!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.2 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This book was a joy. Not only are the plays themselves each a ... 19 Feb. 2016
By Gordon S. Jones - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was a joy. Not only are the plays themselves each a jewel, but the Campbell/Bentley translations were exquisite. Cervantes we know, tho perhaps not this side of him; Calderon deserves to be better known; an early Don Juan? What more could you want? And the quality of the book itself was good, tho there were some pages with broken letters, but still very clear.

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Respect! 14 May 2011
By Got Out of Dixie Alive - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When I entered college in 1971, this anthology, first published in 1959, was a godsend. At the time it was published, the plays in it were either unavailable in English translations or available in far less readable, much older ones. The translations of Calderon plays by Edwin Honig, and of Lope de Vega by Jill Booty, were not published until two years after this volume, as Mermaid dramabooks, so for two good years the only translations of Fuenteovejuna or Life Is a Dream anybody would care to read in English were in this volume. Whether there's been a better translation of The Siege of Numantia or The Trickster of Seville since 1959, I have no idea.

This volume was one of four called The Classic Theatre, and it was a considerably helpful publishing undertaking, consisting of Italian Renaissance plays, French neoclassical plays, German neoclassical plays, and these. The books were available as mass-market paperbacks, too, that either a poor student or a thirsty lay reader could afford to lay hands on. It was an important series, and one more reason why Eric Bentley, for a number of years, was an international treasure and a boon to the English speaking world's cultural memory of its European dramatic heritage.

Bentley not only managed to lay hands upon new translations by the South African poet Roy Campbell, he had to edit their final form after Campbell's untimely death in 1957. Campbell was a poet admired by Eliot and the Sitwells, and an enthusiastic scholar of Spanish, whose reputation was damaged by his admiration for Franco. Even now, his translations are readable. I don't read Spanish, and can't attest to their accuracy, but I trust Bentley when his Preface says that John Garrett Underhill's and Denis Florence MacCarthy's translations were unreadable, Edward Fitzgerald's (of Calderon only) were readable but too free, and Lord Holland's excellent translations were all of extremely minor plays.

So the publication of Campbell's translations for the BBC, at the cost of considerable posthumous trouble, was a serious boon to readers. It's okay to disparage the translations now, but it's not okay to do so in a bratty, ungrateful style, uncognizant of the paucity of available translations of Spanish plays either then or now. This volume at the moment occupies something like its centrality in 1959, since it's the only anthology of Golden Age Spanish theatre available, as of this writing, as a Kindle e-book. Even the other volumes of the series are not. We should be grateful it exists, and grateful for its wide availability.

If the author of the snotty review on these pages is such an excellent scholar of Spanish (including, apparently, both Castilian and the sayagues dialects) to impugn these translations, and enough of a connoisseur of English verse to tell us they constitute doggerel, I hope he'll give us the benefit of some new translations of his own. In the meantime, if he can't muster any humility, he might try to conjure up a little basic gratitude. This book is still in print because it still fulfills a need. And even if it didn't, it helped pave the way for the publication of new translations both in the short term and the long. And in fact, the situation with regard to English translations of Spanish drama isn't so great, even now, that anybody can afford to be too sniffy about these.

Translations are like plays, in that the pioneering ones often get superseded. We read Golden Age Spanish drama, not because the early plays are all masterpieces (though some are), but because they are fascinating precursors. Otherwise we'd read only Cervantes and Lope, and only a handful of plays by each. If you want to be crabby about translators whose work has been excelled by their successors, why not include playwrights? One might as well be complaining that the translations include Tirso de Molina instead of Lorca.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just Gruesome 9 Jan. 2008
By gentle reader - Published on
Format: Paperback
I purchased this volume when looking for English translations of Spanish Golden Age Plays for a Comparative Literature course I was designing. These translations are just horrible. Not only is the verse of the Spanish rendered as doggerel in English, but the translations are so off the mark that they change the meaning of dialogue and even alter plot developments! So very, very bad, and sad that this great body of literature is being turned to trash by irresponsible translations and editions.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great place to start when studying old Spanish plays 15 July 2008
By Rebecca Wright - Published on
Format: Paperback
Bentley offers a great reference to old plays from Italy, Spain, and France, and is a good place to start. Yes, the translations may not be the best, but unless you study the language in depth, this is a good translation for generic English use.
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars 2 Oct. 2015
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Some of the translations are odd.
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