|Quixotic Haiku: Poems and Notes
PAPERBACK ISBN: 978-1-58871-256-1 $29.95 Amazon.com
Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote, published in two parts in 1605 and 1615, is a fictional masterpiece that helped to guide the development of the novel. Its energy is built on a joint emphasis on the story of the self-made knight errant and the story of the composition of the text itself. Humor, irony, and ingenuity mark every stage of the knight’s progress. QUIXOTIC HAIKU borrows the haiku, a Japanese verse form known for its brevity, to capture the spirit of Don Quixote in 130 poems, presented with notes that comment on Don Quixote’s (and Cervantes’s) trajectory.
Crossing the Line: A Quixotic Adventure in Two Parts
PAPERBACK ISBN: 978-1-58871-216-5 $19.95 Amazon.com
Based on Cervantes’s Don Quixote, this play does not attempt to “adapt” the novel, but rather to evoke both Don Quixote’s errant knighthood and Cervantes’s confrontation with literary tradition. Each of the elements—the knight’s actions and the author’s self-conscious approach to writing—is broadly comic and, at the same time, profound, serious, and engaging. At the opening of the play, as in the prologue to Part 1 of the novel, a fictionalized Cervantes is distraught because he has a finished manuscript but no erudite prologue. A friend advises him to write whatever he likes, just to fill up the space of a prologue. This is the start of something big.
As the story proper begins, a small landowner who has become mad from excessive reading of romances of chivalry sets out to right the world’s wrongs; he calls himself Don Quixote de la Mancha, and he is later accompanied by his squire, the illiterate but crafty Sancho Panza. Don Quixote and Sancho face a number of obstacles on the road and subsequently find themselves at an inn, where they come across the priest and the barber from their village, who have set out to rescue the knight. True to the strange and contradictory chronology of the novel, they also meet an American professor and graduate student, who are Don Quixote scholars. In Act 2, as in Part 2 of the novel, Don Quixote finds out that a chronicle of his deeds has been published, and, in many cases, characters are familiar with the story. A duke and duchess with a good deal of money and with time on their hands invite Don Quixote and Sancho to their palace, where they devise plots to entertain themselves at the expense of the knight and his squire. They even confer on Sancho the governorship of an island. After departing from the palace, Don Quixote discovers that a false chronicle has been published, and he runs into a character from that book, who certifies that the Don Quixote before him is the genuine knight. Returning home after a defeat in battle, Don Quixote regains his sanity and dies, but he has left an indelible imprint in the memory of those who have followed his trajectory.
Crossing the Line captures the spirit of Don Quixote: the humor, the satirical edge, the intricacies of reading and writing, the interest in points of contact between art and life, and the highlighting of irony on all levels. Cervantes represents reality through a dynamic mix of realism and metafiction, self-reference to the nth degree. Stressing the interrelation of process and product, he reveals the seams in his literary tapestry. Inspired by the lessons of the master, Crossing the Line looks to create its own quixotic route for the stage.
The Labyrinth of Love
Inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’s El laberinto de amor
PAPERBACK ISBN: 978-1-58871-228-8 $19.95
The Labyrinth of Love aims at baroque intensity. The main characters are three women who escape from their homes, disguised as men, in order to seek independence. Each becomes a metaphorical playwright on the road to freedom. The three male love objects are at the mercy of the women, whose maneuverings bring them success, but only through a labyrinthine process of role-playing, cross-dressing, quick thinking, and collaborative efforts. Highlighting its comic frame, The Labyrinth of Love examines intersections of love, social customs, and gender politics.
Inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’s El laberinto de amor, first published in 1615, the play captures the spirit of early modern Spanish comedy, with its momentary release from the dictates of hierarchical and paternalistic codes, yet the demands of honor and the precarious situation of women cannot be elided, even within a comic vision. The Labyrinth of Love looks to the past with an ironic wink toward the present, while at the same time recognizing that feminine liberation remains a work in progress.
Into the Mist
A Play based on Niebla by Miguel de Unamuno
PAPERBACK ISBN: 978-1-58871-191-5 $19.95 Amazon.com
Into the Mist is an adaptation for the stage of Miguel de Unamuno’s novel Niebla [Mist], first published in 1914. Miguel de Unamuno was one of the most prolific and influential Spanish writers of his time. He cultivated a wide variety of genres: novel, short story, poetry, drama, and essay. Sharing his personal reflections and his spiritual crises with the public, Unamuno often becomes an author-as-character within his fictional and nonfictional texts. Whereas literary realism tends to underplay differences between reality and fiction, certain types of literature flaunt what can be called their “literariness,” their self-referential qualities. Niebla, philosophical and ingenious, is arguably the most complex of Unamuno’s narrative ventures. Cervantes and Don Quixote seem to be on Unamuno’s mind as he composes an innovative form of fiction, which emphasizes the artistic process and the act of creation, and which he labels the nivola.
The protagonist of Niebla is Augusto Pérez, a solitary man whose life lacks direction. An attractive lady named Eugenia Domingo del Arco catches Augusto’s attention, and he initiates a campaign to pursue and win her. He is now a man with a mission, but he seems more in love with love than with the flesh-and-blood Eugenia. In the course of events, he comes to know Eugenia’s feisty aunt and eccentric uncle, a self-proclaimed “mystical anarchist.” Eugenia herself, an orphan and a piano teacher who hates music, has a boyfriend named Mauricio, an unemployed Romeo whom she loves despite his flaws. Augusto Pérez’s closest friend is the writer Víctor Goti, with whom he plays chess and discusses life and love, and who gives him constant reality checks. Víctor is absorbed in writing a narrative—a nivola—whose plot bears an uncanny resemblance to Unamuno’s opus. As a result of his feelings for Eugenia, Augusto finds himself attracted to all women, including Rosario, the young girl who delivers his laundry. In a magnanimous move, he pays the mortgage that has become a burden for Eugenia following the death of her father. To Augusto’s chagrin, she takes the “heroic act” as an affront. Overwhelmed by Eugenia’s resistance and by his increasing confusion in matters of the heart, Augusto seeks the counsel of his former teacher, the acclaimed scholar Antolín S. Paparrigópulos, who advises him to conduct a psychological experiment on women. What transpires is hardly a success for Augusto Pérez, who comes to acknowledge that he has become the guinea pig. He is cruelly deceived by Eugenia and Mauricio. Devastated and despondent, he loses the will to live. After consulting with Víctor Goti, he decides to commit suicide, and he travels to Salamanca to announce his plans to Don Miguel de Unamuno. There ensues the most commented chapter of the narrative: a debate between the author and the protagonist regarding authorial control and the autonomy of characters in fiction. Unamuno may write all the dialogue, but it cannot be lost on the reader that he inscribes himself into the narrative as a fictional entity. The ending of Niebla is, fittingly, ambiguous.
Unamuno fashions an intriguing system of frames. Niebla opens with a prologue by Víctor Goti, invited by Unamuno to comment on the text. Not wholly satisfied with Goti’s assertions, Unamuno answers with a brief post-prologue, and the action proceeds from there. Niebla was published seven years before the first performance of Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, and it clearly anticipates the striking and acclaimed self-referentiality of the Italian play. Into the Mist reflects the spirit and the self-consciousness of Niebla. Edward Friedman has faced the challenge of bringing the metafictional thrust and the profound and bittersweet abstractions of the nivola to center stage.
The Little Woman
A liberal translation of El sí de las niñas by Moratín
PAPERBACK ISBN: 978-1-58871-180-9 $19.95 Amazon.com
The Little Woman is a liberal translation of Leandro Fernández de Moratín’s El sí de las niñas (1806), the quintessential Spanish neoclassic comedy. Influenced by the Enlightenment and by dramatic conventions in France, Moratín designs a vehicle aimed at entertaining and illuminating his public and at commenting on a number of social issues, including the education of women and arranged marriages. Conflict is inevitable in life and in the theater, but the trials and tribulations of the characters are resolved through patience and clear thinking. The dramatist and his protagonists play by the rules of order and decorum; one could say that they have faith in reason and in their fellow men and women. The play is a variation on the theme of the elderly gentleman who sets his sights on a much younger woman. Here, the love object has a gallant admirer closer to her own age and an exaggeratedly meddlesome mother. Misunderstandings abound, but good sense and good will prevail. Edward Friedman’s translation captures the spirit of the original text in a performable script.
Edward Friedman is Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Spanish and Professor of Comparative Literature at Vanderbilt University, where he also serves as director of the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities. He is a former president of the Cervantes Society of America, and since 1999 he has been editor of Bulletin of the Comediantes, a journal founded in 1948 and focusing on early modern Spanish drama. He is the author of critical studies and creative exercises, including adaptations of several Spanish works. Wit’s End, his adaptation of Lope de Vega’s La dama boba, was performed as part of the 2006-2007 season of Vanderbilt University Theatre, under the direction of Jeffrey Ullom.