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Basta callar: Segun el manuscrito Res. 91. Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid.

The present critical edition of Calderon's Basta callar is the sixtieth to appear in Kurt and Roswitha Reichenberger's series "Teatro del Siglo de Oro." Like the other volumes in the series, Altamiranda's work represents a valuable contribution to our texts from and our knowledge of Golden Age drama, offering both a critical edition and a semiotic analysis of the play.

Basta callar is one of the least-studied works of Calderon's corpus. The play itself, as Altamiranda notes, is essentially a refundicion of previous texts: Saber del mal y del bien, El galan fantasma, Amigo, areante y leal, and Nadie fie su secreto. In terms of Calderonian scholarship, it has been the subject of two brief articles that deal wholly with editorial issues: S.N. Trevino's "Nuevos datos acerca de la fecha de Basra callar," Hispanic Review 4 (1936): 33341; and "Versiones desconocidas de una comedia de Calderon," PMLA 52 (1937): 682-704; plus two more recent essays that undertake critical appreciations of the text: Regula Rohland de Langbehn's "Artificios utilizados en la comedia Basra callar," Calderon. Actas del "Congreso Internacional sobre Calderon y d teatro espanol del Siglo de Oro, ed. Luciano Garcia Lorenzo (Madrid: CSIC, 1983), 587-601; and Margaret Rich Greer's "El reloj descompuesto de Basta callar," Hacia Calderon: Decimo Coloquio Anglogermano, ed. Hans Flasche (Stuttgart: Steiner, 1994), 201-12. Altamiranda does not allude to the latter essay, probably because it appeared too late for him to take it into account.

In terms of its textual history, Basta callar is a complicated and rather confusing case, which Altamiranda is at pains to clarify. The play appeared in print for the first time in Vera Tassis's Verdadera Quinta Parte in 1682; it also existed in the form of two manuscripts in the Biblioteca Nacional and in numerous sueltas from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Of the two versions from the BN, one can be dated with reasonable certainty in 1634, while the other appears to date from 1652 or later. Altamiranda has chosen to edit the later manuscript, which is in part an autograph. This manuscript, which belonged to the collection of the Duke of Osuna, presents the editor with its own problems, the thorniest of which is the presence of numerous modifications to the text; some of these changes are certainly in Calderon's hand, some probably are, and some are clearly not. Altamiranda has opted for incorporating those alterations clearly made by Calderon; in the cases of doubtful attribution, he has made his decisions on the basis of the "ventajas o desventajas [que] ofrece la intervencion al conjunto de la pieza" (69). He has also included a schema of the play's versification, a list of variants, a series of textual notes on the manuscript used, an index to the editor's footnotes, and an index of names.

Accompanying this text of the play, as noted above, is a semiotic analysis. The usefulness and interest of this rather sketchy study will of course depend upon the reader's familiarity with semiotics and endorsement of such an approach to dramatic texts. However, the study is problematic for the semiotically challenged as well as for the initiated. Altamiranda's initial overview of semiotics, both its theory and historical development, is clear and succinct, but it is fragmentary and incomplete, hence somewhat misleading to the reader unfamiliar with the material. On the other hand, the semiotician will doubtlessly find this background simplistic and superfluous. Unfortunately, both novices and experts will probably find the analysis of the play unhelpful and rather pedestrian: it is a case of an elaborate theoretical apparatus that yields only meager critical results.

Altamiranda has produced a meticulous edition of a neglected play. For critical appraisal, however, the reader would do well to look to the articles by Rohland de Langbehn and Greer. And for semiotics, the interested reader should seek out theory and application elsewhere.

BARBARA E. KURTZ Illinois State University
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Author:Kurtz, Barbara E.
Publication:Renaissance Quarterly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1998
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