El muerto disimulado / Presumed Dead

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The Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and Gender awarded this work the Prize for the Best Translated Edition of a Work on Women and Gender, 2018.
Valerie Hegstrom and Catherine Larson have created an annotated new edition and first-ever translation of Ângela de Azevedo’s vibrant comedy, El muerto disimulado / Presumed Dead, to promote the recuperation of early modern plays authored by women. The book contains a comprehensive introduction that describes Spanish theater in its Golden Age, what is known of the author’s life and times, contemporary stagings, and an extensive analysis of the text.
Although the playwright penned her work in Spanish, the Portuguese Azevedo set the action in Lisbon, creating in the process an abundance of multicultural allusions that enrich the text’s baroque quality. The story unfolds as a cross between a jilted-lover scenario and a whodunit murder mystery. A woman laments her departed lover, a sister cross-dresses to avenge her murdered brother, a man duels with his cousin over lost honor, and before long, the dead man turns up as a ghost, or a bar maid, or a female peddler. Questions about identity abound in the witty El muerto disimulado / Presumed Dead. The transnational nature of this clever comedy complicates meanings, often producing bilingual wordplay that underscores the self-conscious, gender-bending, ludic character of the play and of theater in general. Azevedo highlights her ability to cross linguistic and geographic borders in the early modern period, as she simultaneously works within and offers a challenge to the dominant tradition of the Spanish Comedia.

"… a valuable source in performance studies, essential handbook for theater lovers, and vital for further deepening the field of performance studies by providing the Anglophone readers with essential tools to begin discovering the Golden Age of Spanish drama." Tatevik Gyulamiryan, Hispania

'This side-by-side Spanish–English edition of the play will allow scholars, students, and actors to approach Azevedo’s work afresh. For many, it will be the first opportunity to read this relatively unknown author’s work. This accessible, accomplished edition of El muerto disimulado / Presumed Dead should help Azevedo’s play become better known both on page and on stage. Hegstrom and Larson are to be congratulated for making this significant contribution both to the scholarship on early modern women and to the corpus of highly skilled translations of early modern women’s work.'
Lisa Vollendorf, Bulletin of the Comediantes

‘There is a very small subset of translators who are able to produce compelling verse translations of comedias and an even smaller one whose verse translations are manageable for university theater students. This edition offers a highly readable — and I believe stage-worthy — prose translation that transmits the content accurately and also captures much of the early modern delight with dazzling verbal gymnastics.’
Barbara Simerka, Queens College, City University of New York, Early Modern Women Journal

‘Hegstrom and Larson have done a superb job bringing Azevedo’s play to life, and scholars, students, directors, actors and lovers of Golden Age comedia can now enjoy a play and playwright, neither of which will ever again fall into oblivion.’
Nieves Romero-Díaz, Mount Holyoke College, Seventeenth-Century News

Author Information

Valerie Hegstrom is Associate Professor in Spanish & Comparative Literature and Coordinator of Women’s Studies at Brigham Young University, U.S. Catherine Larson is Professor Emerita in Spanish at Indiana University, U.S.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Title Page2
Copyright Page3
Theater in Early Modern Spain10
Women Writing Plays in Spanish in the Early Modern Period12
Azevedo: Her Life, Times, and Works19
El muerto disimulado / Presumed Dead32
Honor, Virginity, and Constancy32
Characters – An Ensemble Cast34
Shifting Identities and the Tension between Appearance and Reality37
Structure of the Play: Cuadros47
Staging El muerto disimulado / Presumed Dead49
Settings and Stage Sets49
Movement on Stage51
Stage Properties53
Contemporary Performances55
El muerto disimulado in Performance55
Presumed Dead in Performance60
Metrical Scheme66
Editor’s Note71
Translator’s Note80
El muerto disimulado / Presumed Dead98
Jornada Primera / Act 1101
Jornada Segunda / Act 2175
Jornada Tercera / Act 3247