Purdue Studies in Romance Literatures School of Languages and Cultures

Calderón y las quimeras de la Culpa: alegoría, seducción y resistencia en cinco autos sacramentales

Viviana Díaz Balsera

In Calderón y las quimeras de la Culpa, Viviana Díaz Balsera examines the autos sacramentales of Calderón in the light of modern theories of allegory. She focuses on the seductive power of the dramatic, visible level of the allegorical auto and questions the widely held assumption that Calderón’s autos harmonize the dramatic and religious discourses that constitute them. In her readings of Los encantos de la Culpa, El jardín de Falerina, La nave del Mercader, La vida es sueño, and Lo que va del Hombre a Dios, she instead finds a disjunction between the literal, poetic level and the religious, theological meaning.

Seduction implies a displacement of truth by the surface pleasures of the image. With its splendid scenes, poetic fables, and elaborate music, the auto ironically has the potential to reproduce the seductive function it frequently attributes to the character of the Devil or other forces of evil, that of deferring truth by fostering desire for the dazzling and the sensuous. Rather than the dogmatic champion of the Catholic Church, the auto that emerges in this book is conflictive, ambivalent, yet profoundly moving, participating in the very dangers of sensual pleasure it so earnestly seeks to warn against.

Basando su examinación en teorías modernas de alegoría, Viviana Díaz Balsera se enfoca en la energía seductiva del nivel dramático y visible de los autos, y pone en cuestión la idea que los autos de Calderón establecen una armonía entre los discursos dramáticos y religiosos que los constituyen. En español.

"...a well-argued and provocative book which challenges traditional scholarship that has kept the auto a preserve of specialists and that has failed to attract a wider readership for this genre.... it is a most welcome addition and deserves the attention of everyone involved in comedia studies.... well-researched, well-documented, insightful, and offers a reading of the auto that promises to bring this often overlooked genre more fully into literature, where it belongs." —Teresa S. Soufas, Revista de Estudios Hispánicos

For full review see Revista de Estudios Hispánicos 32.3 (Oct. 98): 629-30.

"The study benefits from the application of recent theoretical models, which allow the critic to keep the interplay of drama and theology as the center of her focus while acknowledging the instability of that center." —Edward H. Friedman, Indiana University

Viviana Díaz Balsera, University of Miami, has written on the drama and prose of sxteenth- and seventeenth-century Spain and Colonial Latin America.

ISBN: 978-1-55753-098-1 In Spanish.
1997. PSRL 13. viii, 237 pp. Cloth $29.95 PRICE REDUCED


Information last updated June 24, 2015.

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This study of five autos sacramentales by Calderón offers a new interpretation of these one-act pageant play

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Calderón de la Barca, Teatro escogido, ed. Eugenio de Ochoa, vol. 3 of Tesoro del Teatro español (Paris: Europea de Baudry, 1838). 

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