Oscar MandelOscar Mandel

Prosper Mérimée
Plays on Hispanic Themes

Prosper Mérimée: Plays on Hispanic Themes

New York et al.: Peter Lang Publishing
ISBN 0-8204-6308-6
205 pages
Soft cover: $29.95

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Table of Contents

Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .vii
Prosper Mérimée, Playwright . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
Carvajal’s Family . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
The Gilded Coach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87
The Opportunity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121
Inès Mendo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .151
    Part One: Inès Mendo or The Defeat of Prejudice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153
    Part Two: Inès Mendo or The Triumph of Prejudice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175

From the Foreword

No fewer than seven out of Mérimée's thirteen known plays are set in Spanish-speaking countries—in Spain, Cuba, Peru, and Colombia; while an eighth, though it takes place on a Danish island, concerns a Spanish garrison stationed there. We have also from his hand a substantial number of critical and historical writings on Spanish themes. Indeed, Mérimée made his literary debut in 1824 by writing four articles on the Spanish drama of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His best-known work, of course, is the tale of Carmen, published in 1845 and turned into an opera by Bizet thirty years later. Mérimée also travelled wide and deep in Spain; rejoiced in bullfights, executions, and the company of ruffians in the sierras; published lively accounts of his experiences and impressions; and made friends with the Count of Montijo and his family, one of whose members was the little girl who became Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III, and never wavered in her devotion to him. He never crossed the ocean, however, and remained content with thoroughgoing if lightly applied documentation for his Hispano-American plays. That faraway world seemed to provide even better ground than Spain for the display of fierce passions in picturesque settings that he favored for his dramas and comedies. . . . . .
Because no genuine overall study of Mérimée’s plays has yet been published in any language, and because his plays are for all practical purposes unknown in the English-speaking world (and very nearly so among the French themselves), I have provided a critical and even at times polemical introduction to his dramatic works. Readers who are indeed unacquainted with the plays should perhaps take possession of the latter before turning to the essay so as to meet my arguments fully armed. My hope, of course, is that they will take up arms together with me in the conviction that the best plays of this classic author should be inserted at long last into the mainstream of our theatrical culture.