May 5: Did you know...

...that La Vida Es Sueno (Life Is A Dream) is a seventeenth-century classic of Spanish drama?

...that the translation used in the Harvard Classics is by Edward Fitzgerald, the same dude who did the Rubiyat?

...that Fitzgerald totally rewrote this drama?

...that, despite these liberties, and despite the fact that, in the play, Polish noblemen have names like "Astolfo" and "Estrella," it's almost impossible to read?

I bet you didn't know any of these things! Although I imagine you guessed at the last one. Here's some evidence:

Down to the poor, mute, scale-imprison’d things,
That yet are free to wander, glide, and pass
About that under-sapphire, whereinto
Yourselves transfusing you yourselves englass!

"Englass"?

The only other thing I want to say about it is, how come we don't have women-pretending-to-be-men in our dramas anymore? Because, here in act I scene 1 (more Theatre of Exposition), it kind of works. Rosaura, who's fleeing from Russia (the name's a dead giveaway, I know), meets Segismund, who's chained, or "enfettered," and you kind of find yourself rooting for them, as Rosaura says with characteristic Russian fire:

Alas; alas!
No angel! And the face you think so fair,
’Tis but the dismal frame-work of these rocks
That makes it seem so...


Come on, you two! Anyway, I wonder why this surefire dramatic device has fallen into disuse, and my guess is because it works better when you had boys as the "actresses," like they did back in the day. Or maybe we're just sick of it because we all had to read Shakespeare.

Of course, in our time, the great works of drama are transgressive in a different way:

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