Majesty and Humanity


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Kings and Their Doubles in the Political Drama of the Spanish Golden Age

Alban K. Forcione

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In the Golden Age of Spanish Theater, an age of highly dramatized coronations and regal spectacles, Alban Forcione has discovered a surprising but persistent preoccupation with the disrobing of the king. In both the celebrations of majesty and the enthrallment with its unveiling, he finds the chilling recesses in which a culture struggled to reconcile the public and the private, society and the individual, the monarch and the man. 


In brilliantly reinterpreting two of Lope de Vega’s plays, long regarded as conventional royalist propaganda, Forcione places his texts in the context of political and institutional history, philosophy, theology, and art history.  In so doing he shows how Spanish theater anticipated the decisive changes in human consciousness that characterized the ascendance of the absolutist state and its threat to the cultivation of individuality, authenticity, and humanity.

Alban K. Forcione is Walter S. Carpenter Jr. Professor of the Language, Literature, and Civilization of Spain Emeritus at Princeton University, and Morris A. and Alma Schapiro Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Emeritus at Columbia University. He lives in Princeton, NJ.

"[The] author isolates what he terms 'spaces of debate' in order to propose that Lope and his contemporaries provide the opportunity for kings to remove their masks, literally and figuratively, to explore—and for spectators to contemplate—nonabsolutist ideas and forms of behavior. The study is most notable for the breadth of erudition that Forcione displays in his treatment of the thesis and in his allusions to the literature of the period and to the broader ideological spectrum. . . . Highly recommended."—E. H. Friedman, Choice

"Prodigious, both in terms of its erudition and analytical depth, Majesty and Humanity brings our reflections on the political imagination of the antiguo regimen to a new height. . . . The distinctiveness of this study, I would emphasize, lies in its relentless avoidance of simplification, in its utter command of Baroque multiperspectivism. . . . Beautifully written and magisterial in its luxurious intertwining of literary, cultural, social, and political analysis, Majesty and Humanity is a must for all scholars of the Baroque."—Ariadna García-Bryce, Renaissance Quarterly

"Through a brilliant analysis that incorporates his readings in history, political science, theology, and theater, Forcione offers a fresh view of two complex and paradoxical plays."—Barbara Mujica, 1650-1850

"An impressive, exciting work of criticism and scholarship."—David Quint, Yale University

“In its complex engagement with institutions of kingship, this massively original work enlightens readers on what it meant to be king of Spain from the Visigoths down to the Golden Age.”—Diana de Armas Wilson

ISBN: 9780300134407
Publication Date: January 13, 2009
304 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
6 b/w illus.