Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Gregorio Martínez Sierra has been credited with more than two hundred titles in addition to the numerous articles that appeared in literary periodicals. Recent scholarship has unearthed the fact that his wife, María Martínez Sierra, collaborated in most works credited to Gregorio, and she was also the principal author of many of these works. Because it is not possible to ascertain with certainty which works were done by each, the couple will be treated as an artistic unit for the purposes of this article. Diálogos fantásticos (1899; fantastic dialogues) is a lyric work consisting of philosophical remarks made by Life, Death, Heart, Head, Soul, Truth, and other personified elements. Flores de escarcha (1900; frost flowers), a collection of stories written in the somewhat artificial style of the modernists, expresses a deep faith in nature’s inherent wholesomeness.

Martínez Sierra wrote several novels and novellas, among them Tú eres la paz (1906; Ana María, 1921), a romantic novel that not only foreshadowed the author’s involvement with his leading actress, Catalina Bárcena, but also introduced the strong, intelligent, and long-suffering female character that later appeared in many of his dramas.

Gregorio Martínez Sierra and María Martínez Sierra Achievements

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Gregorio Martínez Sierra was one of Spain’s most prolific writers. He is primarily known for his theatrical works, which captivated the Spanish public during the first half of the twentieth century, but his artistic genius encompassed many literary genres and activities. Besides the numerous plays credited to his name, Martínez Sierra wrote poetry, short stories, novels, operettas, and essays. As if this were not enough to satisfy his enormous creative instincts, he founded several prestigious literary journals, Vida moderna (modern life), Helios (the sun), and Renacimiento (renaissance); established two highly respected publishing houses, Renacimiento and Estrella (star); managed his own theater company; directed many innovative dramas; supervised the filming of some of his more popular plays; and wrote original film scripts for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount, and Fox Studios.

The breadth and depth of his activities startle the imagination and cause one to question whether such uncommon literary talent could possibly belong to but one individual. In fact, Martínez Sierra’s genius lay in his uncanny ability to collaborate with fellow artists. Though it was suspected for many years, it was not until the publication of Patricia W. O’Connor’s incisive study, Gregorio and María Martínez Sierra (1977), that concrete evidence was presented revealing to what extent Martínez Sierra’s talent consisted in serving as a catalyst to other artists. Specifically, his wife, María, is now known to have collaborated with him on virtually all the plays attributed to him, and she was the principal author of many of these works. Although María Martínez Sierra has been granted her rightful place in literary history as Spain’s first great woman dramatist, Gregorio’s importance should not diminish in the least. On the contrary, his role as muse and catalyst was essential in the literary partnership that he shared with his wife. Together, this couple produced some of the most popular drama of twentieth century Spain.

Gregorio Martínez Sierra and María Martínez Sierra Bibliography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Douglas, Frances. “Gregorio Martínez Sierra.” Hispania 5 (November, 1922): 257-369. A look at Martínez Sierra and his work, from about the time of the couple’s separation.

Douglas, Frances. “Gregorio Martínez Sierra.” Hispania 6 (February, 1923): 1-13. A further examination of the dramatist and his works.

O’Connor, Patricia W. Gregorio and María Martínez Sierra. Boston: Twayne, 1977. A basic study of the life and works of Gregorio and María Martínez Sierra. O’Connor provides evidence for María’s participation in the writing of their works.

O’Connor, Patricia W. Women in the Theater of Gregorio Martínez Sierra. New York: America Press, 1967. A study of the central, strong woman character in Martínez Sierra’s plays.