finished: Don Juan Tenorio by José Zorrilla
My August book-in-Spanish (I'm actually trying to read two per month in Spanish, but this has proven difficult, mostly for reasons of budget) was the classic romantic play Don Juan Tenorio. An old college professor of mine (note: not that he's old, just that he used to be my professor) recommended it to me when I asked for a list of five of the greatest hits of Spanish language literature. This play is one of the best-known tellings of the the Don Juan story, and bonus fact: it's performed every year here in Mexico on Day of the Dead.
You may be wondering, like I was for the first few acts, what Don Juan has to do with Day of the Dead. Isn't he just about conquests and sleeping with all the ladies, you may be asking yourself? Well, yes, there is that. He also kills men by the way, dozens of them, in sword fights and the like. I guess that's supposed to be the equivalent "conquest"? Interesting, Mr. Lover. Anyway, not to be all SPOILER-y and whatnot, but it always seems it's somehow OK to spoil the ending of things from a couple hundred years ago, unless you're specifically asked not to. I mean, does anyone read Romeo and Juliet and hold out hope for a happy ever after? I'm thinking no. Anyway, in the end, all these ghosts come to Don Juan's house and give him a little bit of what for. Hence the Day of the Deadness of it all.
I love reading (duh) and reading in Spanish and making my way through lists of things to read, such as this "greatest hits of Spanish-language literature." This one was a little hard to read, because it was all Spain and "os" and "vosotros" and "hablarais" and all that silliness. Some of the vocabulary was a little difficult, so I did a wee bit of translating as I read, which I don't normally do, but there was the added challenge of this being in rhyming verse, which mean that backward ran soooo many of the sentences that I lacked some of my normal context clues for deciphering unfamiliar vocabulary when reading in Spanish.
When we were in Mexico City the other week at Bellas Artes, in one of the display cases were programs from performances of Don Juan Tenorio in the 1800s! See, so famous, so always performed here and stuff. This was the exact goal of my reading-Spanish-language-literature project: to be more aware of things everyone here is aware of just by having grown up reading in that language.
No, but seriously. Don Juan is a total jerk. And it's one of those things where there is NO actual reason for these ladies to love him, but they do. Just 'cause. Sigh.