Lope de Vega: Spain’s Shakespeare

Lope de Vega was to Spanish theatre what Shakespeare was to English theatre: a revelation, a godfather and a trendsetter. Famous for his play ‘Fuenteovejuna’, Lope de Vega was one of the key figures of Spain’s Golden Age (Siglo de Oro), a long period of unparalleled artistic and literary flourishment that would produce the liked of Luis de Góngora, Velázquez, Cervantes and Quevedo. So profound was the mark that Lope de Vega left on Spanish literature that Cervantes called him a ‘monster of Nature’, supposedly, for having written more than 1000 plays.

Love & treason are central to many of Lope de Vega’s works, and it should come as no surprise: A failed romance followed by a failed attempt to avenge himself provoked his banishment from Madrid for 8 years. Later on, following the death of his wife, his life would become a rollercoaster of emotional adventures and affairs.

I leave you with these quotes from his play, ‘The Knight from Olmedo’, a moving drama of love and fatalism:

 

“When her lovely feet had touched the valley’s flowers,

they grew in such profusion that heavens exchanged their stars for them.”

 

“The key to her heart,

You’d have to turn it thirty times at least,

and yet I think I have the master-key,

which is to say,

I love her,

which opens every woman’s heart.”

 

“They say that sorrows thought of in advance are doubly sorrowful.”

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