Tirso de Molina is especially known by two truly magnificent plays, The Trickster of Seville and The Man Condemned for Lack of Faith, although some critics have pointed out that those pieces weren’t written by him.
The Trickster of Seville is the main source of a literary international tradition: Don Juan’s myth was followed by a big number of important plays (often remarkable), from the XVII century’s Spain, till the current England. With The Trickster of Seville and the character of Don Juan, Tirso created the most relevant literary character in universal literature because, since then, there hasn’t been a town or a time period where people haven’t tried to give this character a new shape or expression. In Spain, during the XVIII century, the character resurfaced again in the comedy There’s no time that’s left undone and there’s not debt that’s left unpaid or The Stone Guest, by Antonio Zamora; and during the XIX century it came up again in Don Juan Tenorio by Jose Zorrilla (1844). Although these three Spanish comedies talk about the same character, they have a distinctive feature: they solved the theological problem in different ways; Tirso condemned the trickster and Zorrilla saved him through Doña Ines’ love, while Zamora left his destiny as something uncertain.
During the XIX century and throughout the periods of modernism and postmodernism, the influence of the subject and the character of Don Juan were extraordinary and they were used by very important writers (Unamuno, Maeztu, Jacinto Grau, Azorín, etc.) in novels, essays and theater.
The Prose of Ideas – Quevedo and Gracian
Its most relevant figures were Quevedo and Gracian. Quevedo’s thought develops from his first plays (The Dreams) to the last ones (Everyone’s time), from the satirical purpose to the greatest moral abstraction. In the Dreams his purpose to belittle human life’s values is very evident given that he presents all its imperfections and flaws. The play ignited the censor’s mistrust, they didn’t appreciate the mix between the sacred and the grotesque, and they demanded the author to substitute the sacred Christian names for others pagan-mythological ones. Quevedo wanted to publish his Dreams in 1610; but the censor ruled against it, considering that some of his references to the Holy Scriptures were disrespectful. After some struggle, the censor finally approved the publication in 1612, and then several editions appeared in the kingdoms forming the Crown of Aragon (Aragon, Cataluña and Valencia). However, there were no publications in Castilla until fifteen years later, due to the passionate controversy for Santiago’s only patronage. This play was abundantly distributed and it was very popular; but Quevedo, being pushed by the Saint Office, was forced to write an expurgated edition of The Dreams (Madrid, 1631) where they changed the title and published it along with other pieces. This edition was named Toys of the Childhood.
Gracian’s pieces arrived in Europe since an early stage. They were published during the XVII century, very soon they were translated, and little by little started to emerge in all the continent’s languages. Right at the top of all these translations was France, where a translation of The Hero was published in 1645; later, in 1684, it was published in Paris by the title of L’Homme de Coeur a translation by Manual Oracle and the Art of Prudence. Since then, Gracian has been known in England, Italy and Germany up until today, and he became (along with Cervantes and Galdos) one of the three most read and translated Spanish writers in the whole world.