Pedro Barca

Pedro Barca

Spanish playwright and poet
Date of Birth: 17.01.1600
Country: Spain

Biography of Pedro Calderón

Born on January 17, 1600, in Madrid, Pedro Calderón was a Spanish playwright and poet. He was the son of a nobleman from Montañi, a region in Asturias. Calderón began studying at a Jesuit college.

In 1619, he started writing plays and soon dedicated himself entirely to literature. Calderón's work can be divided into four periods. In his early "apprenticeship" period (until the mid-1620s), influenced by Lope de Vega, Calderón created comedies such as "Love, Honor and Power" (Amor, honor y poder, 1623), "The Pretended Astrologer" (El astrólogo fingido, 1624), "Love and Fortune's Pranks" (Lances de amor y fortuna, 1625), and the national-patriotic drama "The Siege of Breda" (El sitio de Breda, 1625).

In 1620, Calderón completed his studies in civil and canonical law at the universities of Alcalá and Salamanca. The "synthetic" period of Calderón's career, characterized by his inclination towards broad generalizations and the exploration of philosophical and ethical issues, lasted until the mid-1630s. During this period, he wrote plays like "The Constant Prince" (El príncipe constante, 1628-1629), "Life is a Dream" (La vida es sueño, 1631-1632), and "Self-Master" (El alcaide de sí mismo, 1636).

From 1635 to 1650, Calderón entered an "analytical" period, during which he focused on the concentrated development of individual themes and the depiction of leading character traits. Plays such as "The Surgeon of His Honor" (El médico de su honra, 1635) and "The Mayor of Zalamea" (El Alcalde de Zalamea, 1640-1645, published in 1651) were created during this period. Calderón also participated in the war with France from 1635 to 1638.

In 1637, Calderón was admitted into the Order of Santiago. In 1640, he took part in an expedition to suppress Catalonia. In 1651, he was ordained as a priest and wrote numerous religious plays known as "autos".

Calderón's fourth period of creativity, known as the "melodramatic allegories," involved writing plays with music, singing, and ballet numbers for lavish court festivities. After the death of his patron, Philip IV, in 1665, he primarily focused on writing autos and plays commissioned by the court. In 1680, Calderón compiled a list of his plays, which included 111 comedies and 70 autos. Currently, around 120 comedies and dramas, 80 autos, and 200 smaller genre plays are known. Some works have been lost and are only known by their titles.

On May 25, 1681, Calderón passed away in Madrid. From 1682 to 1691, the first complete posthumous collection of Calderón's plays was published.

Calderón primarily wrote dramas and established a circle of followers in the genre of Spanish comedy. His innovations encompassed both style and dramatic technique. He preserved the traditional three-act structure of comedy, with its characteristic variety of rhythms and the resolution of character based on national values and behavioral imperatives such as honor. However, the meaning of his poetry and dramatic system is deeply original. Calderón's drama belongs to the Baroque period. He often employed a poetic device where brilliant metaphors piled up and merged in a final enumeration, emphasizing the logical tension created by their diversity.