Pedro Calderón de la Barca  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Pedro Calderón de la Barca y Barreda González de Henao Ruiz de Blasco y Riaño usually referred as Pedro Calderón de la Barca (17 January 1600 – 25 May 1681), was a writer, poet and dramatist of the Spanish Golden Age. Born when the Spanish Golden Age theatre was being defined by Lope de Vega, he developed it further, his work being regarded as the culmination of the spanish Baroque theatre. As such, he is regarded as one of Spain's foremost dramatists and one of the finest playwrights of world literature.



Although his fame dwindled during the 18th century, he was rediscovered in the early 19th century by the German Romantics. Translations of August Wilhelm Schlegel reinvigorated interest in the playwright, who, alongside Shakespeare, subsequently became a banner figure for the German Romantic movement. In subsequent decades, Calderón's work was translated into German numerous times, most notably by Johann Dietrich Gries and Joseph von Eichendorff, and found significant reception on the German and Austrian stages under the direction of Goethe, E.T.A. Hoffmann and Joseph Schreyvogel. Later significant adaptations in the German context include Hugo von Hofmannsthal's versions of La vida es sueño and El gran teatro del mundo.

Although best known abroad as the author of Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak produced acclaimed Russian translations of Calderón's plays during the late 1950s. According to his mistress, Olga Ivinskaya,
In working on Calderón he received help from Nikolai Mikhailovich Liubumov, a shrewd and enlightened person who understood very well that all the mudslinging and commotion over the novel would be forgotten, but that there would always be a Pasternak. I took finished bits of the translation with me to Moscow, read them to Liubimov at Potapov Street, and then went back to Peredelkino, where I would tactfully ask [Boris Leonidovich] to change passages which, in Liubimov's view departed too far from the original. Very soon after the "scandal" was over, [Boris Leonidovich] received a first payment for the work on Calderón.

Twentieth-century Calderón reception suffered significantly under the influence of Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo, but a revival of interest in Calderón scholarship can be largely attributed to a British reception, namely through the works of A.A. Parker, A.E. Sloman and more recently Bruce Wardropper.

Although not well known to the current English speaking world, Calderón's plays were first adapted into English during the 17th century. For instance, Samuel Pepys recorded attending to some plays during 1667 which were free translations of some of Calderón's. Percy Bysshe Shelley translated a substantial portion of El Mágico prodigioso. Some of Calderón's works have been translated into English, notably by Denis Florence MacCarthy, Edward Fitzgerald, Roy Campbell, Edwin Honig, Kenneth Muir & Ann L. Mackenzie, Adrian Mitchell, John Clifford and Helen Edmundson. Michael Kidd's new English translation of La vida es sueño was published by the University Press of Colorado in 2004.



  • Amor, honor y poder (Love, Honor and Power) (1623)
  • El sitio de Breda (The Siege of Breda) (1625)
  • La dama duende (The Phantom Lady) (1629)
  • Casa con dos puertas (The House with Two Doors) (1629)
  • La vida es sueño (Life is a Dream) (1629–1635)
  • El mayor encanto, amor (Love, the Greatest Enchantment) (1635)
  • Los tres mayores prodigios (The Three Greatest Wonders) (1636)
  • La devoción de la Cruz (Devotion to the Cross) (1637)
  • El mágico prodigioso (The Mighty Magician) (1637)
  • A secreto agravio, secreta venganza (Secret Vengeance for Secret Insult) (1637)
  • El médico de su honra (The Surgeon of his Honor) (1637)
  • El pintor de su deshonra (The Painter of His Dishonor) (1640s)
  • El alcalde de Zalamea (The Mayor of Zalamea) (1651)
  • La hija del aire (The Daughter of the Air) (1653)
  • Eco y Narciso (Eco and Narcissus) (1661)
  • La estatua de Prometeo (Prometheus' Statue)
  • El prodigio de Alemania (The Prodigy of Germany) (in collaboration with Antonio Coello)


Autos Sacramentales (Sacramental plays)


For a time the comedic works of Calderón were underestimated, but have since been reevaluated and have been considered as masterfully composed works as being classified in the genre of comedias de enredo, such as his works La dama duende (The Phantom Lady), Casa con dos puertas, mala es de guardar (A house with two doors is difficult to guard), or El galán fantasma (The Heroic Phantom).

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Pedro Calderón de la Barca" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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