Celestina

Celestina

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As Greek tragedy, says a Spanish writer, was composed from the crumbs that fell from Homer's table, so the Spanish drama owed its earliest forms to La Celestina (1499). Fernando de Rojas' tragi-comedy - which has also been called a novel in dialogue - runs to about three hundred pages in the James Mabbe translation, here adapted to the stage by Eric Bentley in a five-act, 93-page version. The central and pervasive situation is a simple one: a dirty old woman is helping a courtly young gentleman to seduce a girl. The wonder of the thing lies in the art with which Fernando do Rojas derives, from such commonplace materials, a towering tragedy - or rather, tragi-comedy.