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The Texas Collection of Comedias Sueltas and Spanish Theater

Five sueltas

Spanish comedias sueltas are short plays published in Spain from the late 17th through the 19th century in small pamphlet formats. This once hidden collection of over 15,000 items documents the evolution of Spanish drama from the 17th century into the early 20th and is a rich source for research in the history of the Spanish theater, and Spanish printing and publishing. While consisting primarily of original Spanish language works, the collection also includes bilingual editions, and translations from various languages including Russian, Swedish, German, and Catalan.

The earliest item in the collection dates to 1603: Juan de la Cueva's Comedia de la muerte del rey don Sancho y reto de Zamora, printed in Barcelona; however the bulk of materials were published after the 1850s. Many of these later items are inexpensive reprints of old favorites that were produced for the public a few days before the performances.

The collection contains an abundance of provenance evidence, including numerous prompt copies, author- and composer-signed copies, and handwritten censor's statements. Marginalia in some of the plays provides a wealth of material for investigation: the back page of an otherwise ordinary mid-nineteenth century play about young love becomes the place for a handwritten murder confession with some interesting side sketches. Another reveals a censor's remarks about the use of the dative plural that may not be understood "en América." There are stamps, musical scores, photographs, postcards, and loving inscriptions to mothers, benefactors, sweethearts, and of course to the Spanish royalty.

The The Texas Collection of Comedias Sueltas and Spanish Theater Database contains descriptions of each item in the collection. Included in the database are approximately 600 titles held in the Cushing Memorial Library at Texas A&M University.

The cataloging of this rich resource was made possible with a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives program.

 

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