Gil Vicente Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Many of Gil Vicente’s songs have been extracted from his plays and included in poetry anthologies such as The Penguin Book of Spanish Verse (1960), edited by J. M. Cohen. Vicente is often, but not always, considered a Spanish writer; as he also wrote in Portuguese, his lyrics are only sometimes available in Spanish-language anthologies of verse.

In the Copilação de todalas obras de Gil Vicente of 1562, commonly called the Copilação, is a section entitled “Trovas e Cousas Miúdas” (verses and small things), containing twelve miscellaneous works. Of these, the most literary is “Pranto de Maria Parda” (“Maria Parda’s Lament”), and the most significant biographically is an untitled “Letter for Tolerance.” In addition, there is an epistolary dedication for the Copilação, which demonstrates that Vicente was planning, if not implementing, the publication of his complete works during his lifetime. In this two-page Portuguese prose piece, the author evinces the proper humility before the fact of his own success and claims that he would not think of publishing his works if it were not for the king’s request that he do so. As many of his plays are works of devotion, he reasons, their publication will not only serve the king but also work in the service of God.

Among the other pieces are a sermon, a paraphrase in Portuguese of Psalm 50 (“Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great...

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(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Gil Vicente created the national drama of Portugal one generation before the Spanish Golden Age and two generations before the Elizabethans. From 1502 to 1536, he was virtually poet laureate of Portugal in the capacities of musician, actor, lyric poet, and playwright, and the royal court did not plan any celebration without asking for his help. He has been called a Lusitanian Plautus, a medieval Aristophanes, and a Portuguese William Shakespeare. His light touch and singing verses reminded John Dos Passos of Theocritus. Observing the dramatic vitality generated by Vicente in tiny, isolated Portugal, Richard Garnett in his History of Italian Literature (1898) laments that there was no one of Vicente’s caliber among the Italians of the sixteenth century.

As a result of censorship, the changing tastes brought in with the Renaissance, and imitators who were simply unworthy of their master, the tradition of Vicente had little continuation within Portugal (although glimmers of his influence can be detected in the theatrical works of Luís de Camões, Antonio Prestes, and Antonio Ribeiro Chiado). However, his influence can be found in the playwrights of the Spanish Golden Age. Lope de Rueda was acquainted with Vicente, as was Miguel de Cervantes.Vicente’s compression of history and abandonment of chronology as seen in The Play of the Sibyl Cassandra were later a distinguishing feature in the great sacramental plays of Pedro Calderón de la...

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(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Garay, René Pedro. Gil Vicente and the Development of the Comedia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Department of Romance Languages, 1988. A study of Vicente and of Portuguese and Spanish drama in the Classical period. Bibliography and index.

Hart, Thomas R. Gil Vicente, Casandra and Don Duardos. London: Grant & Cutler in association with Tamesis Books, 1981. A study of Vicente that focuses on The Play of the Sibyl Cassandra and Tragicomédia de dom Duardos. Bibliography.

Stathatos, Constantine C. A Gil Vicente Bibliography, 1975-1995: With a Supplement for 1940-1975. Cranbury, N.J.: Associated University Presses, 1997. An extensive bibliography of materials related to Vicente.

Stathatos, Constantine C. A Gil Vicente Bibliography, 1995-2000. Kassel: Edition Reichenberger, 2001. A continuation of the bibliography also prepared by Stathatos.

Suárez, José I. The Carnival Stage: Vicentine Comedy Within the Serio-comic Mode. Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1993. A look at Vicente’s comedic works. Bibliography and index.