Life Is a Dream (Penguin Classics)
Pedro Calderon de la Barca
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The masterwork of Spain’s preeminent dramatist—now in a new verse translation
Life Is a Dream is a work many hold to be the supreme example of Spanish Golden Age drama. Imbued with highly poetic language and humanist ideals, it is an allegory that considers contending themes of free will and predestination, illusion and reality, played out against the backdrop of court intrigue and the restoration of personal honor.
In the mountainous barrens of Poland, the rightful heir to the kingdom has been imprisoned since birth in an attempt by his father to thwart fate. Meanwhile, a noblewoman arrives to seek revenge against the man who deceived and forsook her love for the prospect of becoming king of Poland. Richly symbolic and metaphorical, Life Is a Dream explores the deepest mysteries of human experience.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Table of Contents Title Page Copyright Page Introduction ACT I ACT II ACT III Explanatory Notes CLICK ON A CLASSIC FOR THE BEST IN PAPERBACKS, LOOK FOR THE LIFE IS A DREAM PEDRO CALDERÓN DE LA BARCA was one of the leading dramatists of the Spanish Golden Age. He was born in Madrid on January 17, 1600. His father was Secretary to the Royal Treasury and a minor noble, and his mother was a devoutly religious woman who died when he was a child. Calderón studied canon law in preparation for
knight of the Order of Santiago. His output lessened in the 1640s, and in 1651 Calderón entered the priesthood, becoming chaplain of the Capilla de los Reyes Nuevos at the cathedral in Toledo, and then, in 1656, head of the congregation of San Pedro in Madrid. He continued to write both secular and religious plays until his death on May 25, 1681. GREGARY J. RACZ is associate professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature at Long Island University, Brooklyn. His translation of
too! CLOTALDO: His rage will not relent. What should I do, dear heavens, with him bent Upon this lustful crime, Imperiling my name a second time? ROSAURA: The fateful prophecy That warned this kingdom of your tyranny Foresaw the crimes you’d bear, The scandal, murder, treason, and despair. Still, who could stoop to blame A human being who’s just a man in name, Cruel, reckless, inhumane, A barbarous tyrant no one can restrain, Reared like some savage beast? SEGISMUND: I’d thought my
may face life free Of worries or the nagging fear That cares will ever leave his side. I know this far too well from all The woes inflicted on my life And can’t recall a time when cares Were absent. They’ll refuse to rest Till I succumb, a casualty Of fate, into the arms of death. What choice would any woman have If she were in my place? Disclosing my identity Might cause Clotaldo great offense, For he’s vouchsafed my refuge, life, And honor under great duress. By keeping silence,
burdensome. The poor man dreams that he’ll succumb To misery in his beggared state. He also dreams who prospers late. The striver and aspirer do, The mocker and offender, too. In fact, all mortal souls on earth Dream their conditions from their birth, Though no one knows this to be true. I’m dreaming now that darker days Await me, chained, in this dark cell As I’d dreamt I’d been treated well Of late in some strange coddled phase. What’s life? A frenzied, blurry haze. What’s life?