Summer 1961 • Vol. XXIII No. 3 NonfictionJuly 1, 1961 |

The Seizures of Honor in Calderón

In the crude engraving prefacing Calderón's collected works, the distracted look of an elderly melancholiac stares out at the reader. The portrait seems an unintentional caricature of an earlier one done by Juan de Alfaro, showing a somewhat younger disdainful head emerging from the dark cape and tunic of a Knight of Santiago. Disdain softened by resignation dominates still another portrait revealing a clerical gentleman, in severe habit and flowing cape, holding a copy of his plays opened to the title page of Bien vengas, mal, si vienes solo (Welcome, Evil, If You Come Alone). And still the haunted, indrawn stare prevails. For a man who lived eighty-one years (1600-81), and more than 50 in close touch with Court society, the record is sketchy, the relevant facts of his existence singularly bare. As if to emphasize that all this is due to the playwright's characteristic reserve, unmarred by legend or exploit, the commentators have coined a phrase, "the biography of silence." I

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