News & Updates
Two New Resources for Researchers: Websites of Interest for Researchers of Comedias Sueltas & Glossary of Terms for Describing Comedias SueltasDateApril 17, 2023CategoryUpdates
Some weeks ago, we made an announcement via our newsletter about two new resources for researchers. We are happy to share that these significant new pages can be found under RESOURCES.
The first of these is a Glossary of terms related to the bibliographic description of comedias sueltas. It is the aim of this project to consider comedias sueltas as physical objects—the vessels that carry the literary content. Much of the website is designed to study these material objects through the prism of printing history. Printing history, like most other disciplines and professions, has a specialized vocabulary, and we want to provide scholars of literature with the terminology that accurately describes the physical aspects of these publications.
There are several general dictionaries, in both English and Spanish, which are dedicated to library terminology and to some extent to the subject of printing history. This Glossary, however, focuses narrowly on words and phrases that specifically describe comedias sueltas or the printing practices related to them. This bilingual resource has parallel entries in English and Spanish; users can easily toggle between the two languages. We hope that the terms defined in the Glossary will make communication about these works more precise and professional.
The second page that we have added under RESOURCES contains links to Websites of Interest that are related to the larger field of Spanish golden age drama. We believe that these websites will be useful to scholars researching certain aspects of comedias sueltas. If you know of a website that would complement this list, feel free to contact us!
We hope you will join our mailing list for future announcements. The totality of this website is work in progress and we welcome feedback.
University of North CarolinaDateFebruary 7, 2021CategoryCollection update
Among academic libraries, the University of North Carolina has the largest holdings of comedias sueltas: more than 2,000 items. UNC’s collection of comedias sueltas was acquired over several decades with the last major addition occurring in 1949. These comedias sueltas are part of a larger grouping of Spanish, Portuguese, and Catalan drama that includes the Teatro Español collection and the Tomás Borrás collection. In 1965, McKnight and Jones published A Catalogue of Comedias Sueltas in the Library of the University of North Carolina reflecting the pre-1834 holdings. This carefully prepared catalog, one of the first in the field, has served as a basic resource and a model for subsequent catalogs for many scholars and librarians.
The first iteration of our database listed just under 1,400 items, but in the last two years UNC has made a concerted effort to catalog their previously uncatalogued volumes, thereby adding circa 600 items. The collection is being digitized in its entirety and made available to Hispanists due to the many requests Wilson Library receives from scholars around the world.
Claudia Funke, former Curator of Rare Books at the Wilson Library, was first to arrange for the export of the original collection to us. Elizabeth Ott, her successor, continued to have a keen interest in this collection. During the summer of 2018, cataloguer Sarah Hoover, with the assistance of Mack Zalin, who was working towards his MLS degree at UNC and had a part-time position at Duke University, remediated many of the records to bring them up to current standards. We appreciate their invaluable support.
Two other collections that first appeared as printed catalogs are University of Texas at Austin and Smith College. We are grateful that the libraries saw to it that the paper volumes were converted to online versions. Both libraries exported XML reports to us that we were able to convert to Excel spreadsheets and upload with some modifications to our database.
Search StrategyDateFebruary 6, 2021CategoryBuilding the database
The briefest explanation of how we found comedias sueltas in academic libraries and independent research libraries around the country is that we executed FirstSearch searches in WorldCat. To expand on that a little more fully: Wikipedia defines WorldCat as “a union catalog that itemizes the collections of 17,900 libraries in 123 countries and territories.”
We took advantage of its FirstSearch function that allows for combining keywords (found in the caption titles of these plays—such as comedia, auto, loa, entremés, etc.), limited searches to Spanish language works, sought publications within the time period 1650 to 1833, and added the unique OCLC symbol of the library in question.
BibliographyDateFebruary 6, 2021CategoryBibliography update
The aim of the Bibliography within RESOURCES is to include all references pertinent to the larger subject of the website. These comprise the disciplines of literature and history of books and printing as they relate to comedias sueltas. Barbara Fuchs and Rhonda Sharrah of UCLA helped us enormously in gathering and preparing entries.
Cervantes VirtualDateFebruary 6, 2021CategoryBibliography update
The Catalogue of Comedias Sueltas in The New York Public Library, published by Bergman and Szmuk in 1980/81 (listed in Bibliography) has been fully digitized and is available on Cervantes Virtual:
Comedias Sueltas in The New York Public Library: Volume 1
Comedias Sueltas in The New York Public Library: Volume 2
A Fascinating Find at Biblioteca Nacional de España!DateFebruary 2, 2021Category
Scholars at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Universidad de Salamanca and Universidad de Valladolid have discovered a hitherto unknown pirated edition of Lope de Vega’s El castigo sin venganza. What makes this one-of-a-kind so interesting is the ending, a first draft that was discarded by Lope de Vega in his manuscript of the work.
Click the link below for more information on this amazing find!
Boston AthenaeumDateOctober 10, 2020CategoryCollection update
Discovering that the Boston Athenaeum library has a collection, among which is a factitious Moreto volume of previously uncatalogued sueltas, was a pleasant surprise. Special Collections head John Buchtel asked Will Evans, Chief Technical Services Librarian, to lead us on this project. Under COVID conditions, Will has made several trips to the library to photograph sueltas for our database. This is another case where we can be sure that the record accurately describes the object and there can be no confusing different editions.
One suelta in particular grabbed our attention: Primero es la honra by Agustín Moreto; although several editions of this play exists, this is the only example of a Francisco Diego de Torres imprint we have seen.
Duke UniversityDateApril 14, 2020CategoryCollection update
Duke University library history sheds no light on the acquisition of the modest collection of comedias sueltas. These 100+ plays were most likely acquired over some decades and by various means and catalogued by different generations of librarians. It is likely that the bound volumes were originally bound by the previous owners, booksellers, or perhaps library.
Mack Zalin of our team was employed at Duke at the time and he personally photographed the sueltas, converted and remediated the records for uploading to our database. Nothing beats having an inside man!
John Carter Brown Library & Brown UniversityDateMarch 11, 2020CategoryCollection update
The John Carter Brown Library collects across all genres that relate to the early Americas, and the comedias sueltas from the JCB’s collection include New World subject matter and/or were reprinted or sold in Lima during the colonial period. They have a small collection of 25 late 18th – and early 19th -century comedias sueltas including some of the best authors of the Spanish Golden Age literary period (Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina, Calderón de la Barca, and Pérez de Montalbán). We know that Ruiz de Alarcón was from Mexico; the other playwrights have written comedias with the Americas as a theme.
Brown University Special Collections has a slightly higher number of items with no discernible focus. While the JCB titles have all been digitized, COVID interrupted the digitization process a third of the way through.
Support and cooperation from cataloguer Allison Rich have been one of the remarkable bonuses of this project. Allison not only proofed the JCB and Brown records but volunteered to proofread the Bibliography (see under RESOURCES) to make sure we followed the MLA form of entry. She has a deep understanding and love for cataloguing rare books—most of which are far more complicated than comedias sueltas.
GeorgetownDateJanuary 28, 2020CategoryCollection update
John Buchtel, formerly of Georgetown University found for us the single they own. To date we have identified approximately 40 libraries that have 1-3 sueltas in their collection and sometimes these are quite interesting. We are counting these as well; we would like our census to be complete.
We hope that proving that every single suelta they own is added to the database, making the aggregate ever larger, will encourage you to search your institution’s OPAC in search of these imprints.