"The New Play and A Girl's Yes," by Moratin, translated by Robert M. Fedorchek
Madrid-born Leandro Fernández de Moratín (1760-1828) wrote five plays: The Old Man and the Girl [El viejo y la niña], The Baron [El barón], The New Play [La comedia nueva], The Female Hypocrite [La mojigata], and A Girl’s Yes [El sí de las niñas]. Two of them would change the theater in Spain.
At the close of the eighteenth century, in 1792, Moratín upended the status quo of melodrama with The New Play, a satire that takes aim at hacks cranking out works bereft of literary merit. Using as his vehicle a play within a play, he zeroes in on a pompous pedant, decries the rowdiness of the theater-going public, and ridicules a one-time lottery clerk and page who believes it’s possible to write plays with neither preparation nor learning of any sort. And at the outset of the nineteenth century, in 1806, he censures the abuses of parental authority and absolute control over girls who are subject to a neglectful education and have no say whatsoever in the lives they lead. A Girl’s Yes—plotted superbly, written impeccably, and standing as a showcase of the neoclassical unities of time, action, and place—soon became a stellar example of the very best of the classics that constitute Spain’s rich theatrical repertoire. Even the Romantic successes of the Duke of Rivas’s Don Álvaro, or the Force of Fate (1835), Antonio García Gutiérrez’s The Troubadour (1836), and José Zorrilla’s Don Juan Tenorio (1844) would not eclipse the splendor of A Girl’s Yes in the nineteenth century.
Robert M. Fedorchek is a professor emeritus and past chair of the department of modern languages and literatures at Fairfield University. He has published twenty-three books of translations of Spanish literature; this is his sixth translation for Juan de la Cuesta Hispanic Monographs.
Sally-Ann Kitts is a Senior Lecturer in Hispanic and Catalan Studies at the University of Bristol, U.K. She has published widely on eighteenth-century Spanish literature and culture as well as the connections between Spain and England in the Napoleonic period and beyond. Her most recent book is an in-depth scholarly edition of Leandro Fernández de Moratín’s The Female Hypocrite (La mojigata, Castalia, 2015).
Traducciones críticas #11, ISBN 978-1-58871-335-3 (PB), $30