[PREV - UP_AND_DOWN] [TOP]
August 18, 2006
The canon takes aim at the stage.
From "Don Quixote" (1605-1615)
Part 1, Chapter XLVIII, p. 443:
' " If it's no secret that all or at least most of these
fashionable plays, both the purely fictional ones and
those based on historical fact, are so much stuff and
nonsense, higgledy-piggledy hodgepodges, and yet the
masses love them, and think they're splendid creations
when they're the very opposite, and the authors who
write them and the actors who perform them say that it
can't be done otherwise because that's how people want
them and they wouldn't have them any other way, and that
plays which are properly structured and plotted as art
demands are only good for the half-a-dozen intelligent
people who understand them, and all the rest are left in
the dark about their subtleties, and that it's better to
earn a living from the many than approval from the few
-- then all of that is exactly what would happen with my
book, and after burning the midnight oil to make sure I
observed all those rules I've been mentioning I'd end up
like that proverbial tailor who sewed for nothing and
provided the thread himself."
'And although on occasions I've tried to persuade the
impresarios that they're wrong about all this, and that
they'd attract larger audiences and gain more credit by
putting on works of art rather than balderdash, they're
so wedded to their own opinions that no amount of
argument or evidence can make them change their minds.
I recall that one day I said to one of these stubborn
' "You tell me this: don't you remember that a few years
ago three tragedies written by a famous Spanish poet were
performed in this country, and that they were so good
they delighted, surprised and amazed all those who went
to see them, both the simple-minded and the wise, both
the riff-raff and the élite, and that those
three plays alone made more money for the players than
the best thirty that have been produced since?"
'"I'm sure you must be referring," said the impresario,
"to _Isabella_, _Phyllis_, and _Alexandra_."
'" ... So it isn't the masses who are to blame for demanding
rubbish, but rather those who aren't capable of providing
them with anything else. ...
The three tradgedies named (_Isabella_,
_Phyllis_, and _Alexandra_) were written by
Lupercio Leonardo de Argensola, (1581-1584)
[NEXT - HIP_REDUCTION]