Playing the King:  Lope de Vega and the Limits of Conformity

March 2000
238 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Monografias A
ISBN: 9781855660694
Format: Hardback
Tamesis Books
BISAC LIT004280, PER011000

Playing the King: Lope de Vega and the Limits of Conformity

Melveena McKendrick

A reappraisal of Lope's literary career, bringing out the complexities of his dramatic texts.
This book offers a radical re-evaluation of Lope's theatre, which will affect the way in which the comedia in general is read. It spans Lope's literary career, discussing (pseudo-)historical, tragic and peasant plays in order to show Lope's texts as complex negotiations between author and public, between conservatism and subversion, between representations of the ideal of kingship and its political reality, in a period of social and political change. Drawing on contemporary Spanish political philosophy, McKendrick shows that far from glorifying monarchy and advocating absolutism (the orthodox view in the Hispanic world), Lope's political plays constitute an informed critique of kingship; she also challenges the received wisdom that the comedia was an instrument of stage and that its playwrights were the conscious propagandists of an aristocratic elite. With the help of insights and models provided by the speech act theory, the stratagems and techniques utilised by Lope to follow the path of prudence between the acceptable and the unacceptable in political commentary in the commercial theatre are scrutinised, illustrating how richly nuanced texts produce not an ideologically monolithic and complacent drama but one which is at once politically anxious and probing.
MELVEENA MCKENDRICK is Professor of Spanish Literature, Culture and Society at the University of Cambridge.


A milestone in Lope studies. MLR
A very important, indeed a necessary book. BULLETIN OF SPANISH STUDIES
Will be an indispensable guide. CALIOPE
Providing detail that is finely woven and rich in texture, McKendrick shows how Lope's court and popular theatre reveal his ambivalence toward the contemporary conduct of royal life... intelligently written, nuanced discussion...should be in every library supporting study of Spanish literature at the upper-division undergraduate level and above. CHOICE
Excellent... sophisticated and convincing study: Lope de Vega's intricate and sometimes ambiguous dialogue with Spanish history provides one of the most eloquent commentaries on the moral and political complexity of his age. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT [B W Ife]
A study of major importance, not simply for all who work on the comedia, but also for those concerned with the broader question of the relation between literature and society in Golden Age Spain.... As a study of Lope this book succeeds magnificently...[and] will become a standard work in discussions of the complex relationship between societyand literature in early modern Spain. BULLETIN OF HISPANIC STUDIES

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