Contigo Pan y Cebolla by Manuel Eduardo de Gorostiza - HTML preview

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"Contigo Pan y Cebolla," a prose comedy of the lightest sort, affordsa pleasant and attractive glimpse of certain phases of Spanish lifeand thought. Manuel Eduardo de Gorostiza is said to have written theplay in order to cure his daughter Luisa of her infatuation for aworthy but impecunious suitor; but in addition to this motive hispurpose is obviously to entertain.

The theme developed is a family affair, and so the vocabulary isessentially domestic. In this vocabulary of over sixteen hundredwords, many of the phrases and expressions appear again and again inthe natural fashion of every-day speech.

The text used is that found in Book I of the four-volume edition,"Obras de D. Manuel E. de Gorostiza,"

México, 1899. From thestandpoint of typography this text is lamentably inexact. Thenecessary corrections have been made, and the accentuation is inaccordance with the latest rulings of the Royal Spanish Academy. Forthe sake of the student one or two passages have been omitted.

Much work has been left to be done by those who read the play asprepared. The Spanish-English vocabulary is limited in most cases todefining the word as it occurs in the text, and frequently only anapproximation of the meaning has been attempted. For instance, theEnglish equivalents of the same Latin origin as the sonorous Spanishterms that are used so naturally by the man-servant Bruno and thegarrulous Nicolasa would be strangers to the lips of English-speakingindividuals of corresponding station.

There has been added a series of questions and topics (Preguntas yTemas) that may serve as suggestions for exercises in composition. Thequestions follow the thread of the story, but they are not meant to beexhaustive, while the number of topics for descriptive paragraphs oradditional dialogue can readily be increased.

Instead of the usual biographical data collected from many sources andpresented to the student in English, selections have been taken froma life-sketch of Gorostiza written by the distinguished Mexican RoaBárcena, who secured his information from Gorostiza's son. Naturallythe biographer has thrown into high relief the part which Gorostizatook in the interesting events that occurred in Europe and in the NewWorld during his lifetime. We are mainly concerned with Gorostiza thedramatist. Next to Juan Ruiz de Alarcón (1581?-1639), Mexico honorshim as her greatest modern representative in the dramatic field.Furthermore, the play "Contigo Pan y Cebolla" is given first place onthe list of his many literary achievements.

This play the reader is left to gauge by his own standards. No twoindividual opinions will be exactly alike, and the judgment ofnon-Spanish critics will naturally be different from that formed bythose to whom Spanish is the native tongue. By good fortune there isavailable a criticism of "Contigo Pan y Cebolla" written by MarianoJosé de Larra, and to serve as a guide there have been included here afew paragraphs from the pen of this contemporary of Gorostiza, who wasthe foremost Spanish satirist and dramatic critic of his time.

Thus the reader has before him specimens of the prose writings ofthree distinguished men. All three write in Spanish; yet all threediffer in style and in temperament. To those readers in America whohave hitherto looked for the best things with a backward glance thereshould be a certain significance in the fact that two of these writersare of Mexican birth.

E. McG.