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Onstage/Backstage: Animals in the Golden Age Comedia

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Chapter Summary

Animals are a significant and recurrent, if paradoxically effaced, presence in the study of all Golden Age Spanish literature, including the comedia. As Keith Thomas details in Man and the Natural World, animals were literally everywhere in early modern English towns and were often thought of as individuals. Literature, teems with works of fiction involving all species of animals: domestic, wild, and fantastic or mythical. In the Golden Age comedia, animals are present in several modalities and degrees. Live animals did appear on the stage with some frequency; animals are narrated in the manner of Aesopian beast fables, whose roots are found in the bestiary tradition, or in related off-stage episodes; fantastic and real animals function symbolically; and, finally, they appear in the form of animal-human hybrids, or blendings, that scrutinize the human animal divide, among other issues.

Keywords: Aesopian beast fables; animals; Golden Age comedia; Golden Age Spanish literature; Keith Thomas



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