The Force of Habit (La fuerza de la costumbre) by Guillén de Castro

BookThe Force of Habit (La fuerza de la costumbre) by Guillén de Castro

The Force of Habit (La fuerza de la costumbre) by Guillén de Castro

Access Token


Other Formats



Is gender learned or innate? This controversial play asks the question: what happens if you raise a boy to sew and behave as a girl, and raise his sister to fight as a soldier? For the first time ever, Guillén de Castro’s La fuerza de la costumbre (‘The Force of Habit’) will be available to English and Spanish audiences with a performance-tested translation on facing pages. Castro’s plot is unique in that, unlike other cross dressing plays, the children do not traverse gender boundaries by choice; instead complications arising from their parents’ problematic marriage dictate the gender they should perform. This new Spanish edition (the first since 1927) and performance-tested English translation will begin a new discussion of this understudied work and its implications among Hispanists, comparatists, performance theorists, and gender scholars. The critical apparatus includes a biography of the author, textual history, editorial methodology, metrical analysis, bibliography and notes on the text. Machit’s introductory essay, ‘Bad Habits: Gender Made and Remade in La fuerza de la costumbre’ aims to contextualize and investigate the most salient questions raised by Castro’s gender-bending play.

‘Jeffs and Machit’s edition of La fuerza de la costumbre is overall an excellent one, with a solid translation and accompanying introductory materials that will surely inspire directors and dramaturgs as much as literary scholars. It is a welcome addition to the growing corpus of Golden Age drama in the English language.’
Sarah Grunnah, Bulletin of the Comediantes

Author Information

Melissa R. Machit holds a Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures from Harvard University Kathleen Jeffs holds a D.Phil. in European Literature, Spanish, from the University of Oxford.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Title Page2
Copyright Page3
Biography of Guillén de Castro10
Plot Summary17
Textual History21
The Present Edition23
The Editio Princeps and Manuscripts25
Editorial Methods30
Metrical Analysis31
Critical Essay. Bad Habits: Gender Made and Remade in La fuerza de la costumbre33
Introduction: La fuerza de la costumbre, The Power of Habit33
I. Cross-Dressing in Spanish Golden Age Theater37
II. Masculine Perfection: Theorized and Performed43
III. Gender Trouble in La fuerza de la costumbre’56
Dressing Up as ‘Oneself64
IV. Gen(i)us and Gen(d)eration: the Conceits and Conceptions of Paternal ingenio in La fuerza de la costumbre67
In the Name of the Father: Félix’s Transition73
In the Name of the Father: Félix’s Transition80
Translator’s Note103
La fuerza de la costumbre / The Force of Habit118
Index of Variants334