To Love Beyond Death - Diversifying the Classics
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To Love Beyond Death
A tragedy by Pedro Calderón de la Barca
Translated from the Spanish by UCLA Working Group on the Comedia in Translation and Performance:
Marta Albalá Pelegrín
Paul Cella
Barbara Fuchs
Rafael Jaime
Robin Kello
Jennifer L. Monti
Laura Muñoz
Javier Patiño
Payton Phillips Quintanilla
Kathryn Renton
Kenny Sanchez
Rhonda Sharrah
Cheché Silveyra
Chelsey Smith
Madera Gabriela Allan
Samuel Buse
Sierra Polzin
Newark, DE: Juan de la Cuesta, 2021


Payton Phillips Quintanilla and Cheché Silveyra


To Love Beyond Death is a tragic historical drama by Pedro Calderón de la Barca, most likely written between 1630 and 1650 (Coenen 48, Devos 105). The play was first published in 1677 as El Tuzaní de la Alpujarra (Tuzaní of the Alpujarra) but its more widely accepted edition, published in 1691, calls it Amar después de la muerte, the title we have chosen for our translation. Both titles refer to the star-crossed romance of Clara Malec and Álvaro Tuzaní, as well as to Álvaro’s plans to avenge the murder of his beloved. Still, the significance of this story extends far beyond an individual tale of love and revenge. The play is set in southern Spain during the Rebellion of the Alpujarra (1568-1571), when the Castilian Crown’s project to eradicate all traces of Andalusi culture from the Kingdom of Granada sparked the armed resistance of the Moriscos—a blanket term applied to Iberian Muslims who were converted, often by force, to Christianity, as well as to their descendants. Dramatizing a moment when ethnic, religious, and cultural differences turned Spanish subjects against one another, To Love Beyond Death is as much about romantic love and devotion to family and community as it is about civil war and the violent emergence of a modern nation.


The play is also about a people and history that should not be forgotten. The rebellion in Granada fractured the already precarious relationship between a state that stood for “Old Christians”—those who claimed to have no Jewish or Muslim ancestry—and its converted “New Christian” subjects. The rupture would never be mended: decades later, Moriscos were expelled en masse from the Iberian Peninsula (1609-1614). Based largely on an account of the war by a soldier of the Crown, and composed by Calderón well after the expulsion of the Moriscos, To Love addresses issues that resonate today: trauma, historical memory, and social justice. However, while this play challenges some stereotypes and received histories, it may be read as perpetuating others. Our goal here is to introduce both readers and theater practitioners to the play’s historical and literary context, highlighting some of the unique opportunities and challenges presented by modern interpretations of this early modern tragedy.




In 1492, Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon  (known as the Catholic Monarchs), conquered the Emirate of Granada, the last surviving polity of Al-Andalus (Islamic Iberia). This ended a centuries-long history of Muslim rule, which began in 711 with the Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. It was also the end of long campaigns by various Christian-ruled kingdoms to dominate the Peninsula, which resulted in an ever-shifting physical, cultural, and religious frontier. Of course, 1492 was also the year Christopher Columbus reached the Americas, and in which the Catholic Monarchs expelled their kingdoms’ Jewish subjects. 1492 thus ushered in the realities of the Hispanic world we know today, from its “New World” reach to its “Old World” diaspora.


Before relinquishing his kingdom, Muhammad XII—the last ruler of the Nasrid dynasty in Granada—negotiated a capitulation agreement. The Treaty of Granada guaranteed important protections for his people, including the right to continue practicing Islam. While Granada’s first archbishop envisioned a gradual process of conversion to Christianity, less measured approaches prevailed. A violent conversion campaign soon destabilized the city, provoking a rebellion that stretched into the Alpujarra, a mountainous region southeast of the city of Granada. The Catholic Monarchs exploited this unrest to revoke the terms of the treaty, and in 1501 they forced the people of Granada to choose between conversion and expulsion. Forced Christianization in other regions followed, and by 1526 the whole of what we now call Spain was at least nominally Catholic.


In the wake of these mass conversions, statesmen and churchmen tried to identify the external customs and behaviors that might reveal the true beliefs of the New Christians, reading cultural practices as signs of suspect religious loyalties and political allegiances. The Ottoman Empire’s growing strength and influence in the Mediterranean exacerbated fears that the Moriscos might pose a domestic threat as a kind of fifth column. While Charles V approved a series of laws regulating the cultural practices of Moriscos throughout his kingdoms, he allowed Moriscos to delay their enforcement through financial contributions to the Crown.


Yet in the 1560’s, under the new king, Philip II, the measures were revived. The resulting legislation, published in Granada on January 1, 1567, criminalized all manner of activities and traditions pertaining to the public and private lives of Moriscos, including a wide variety of Andalusi customs, from the oral or written use of Arabic (including Arabic names and the possession of Arabic texts), to practices of bathing, dress, and celebration. While the regulations were designed to eradicate remnants of Islam and, with it, a group identity that officials viewed as problematic or even dangerous, they also stripped the Moriscos—and most pointedly, Morisco nobles—of privileges afforded to their Old Christian counterparts, such as the rights to carry arms and own slaves. This reflected the fact that anxieties over difference between Old and New Christians often became anxieties over the lack of difference between the two groups, particularly at the upper levels of society.


After nearly two years of failed petitions to have the new decrees softened or revoked, the Morisco uprising began on Christmas Eve, 1568. What resulted was a civil war of unexpectedly devastating proportions. Though both sides committed excesses, the Crown’s campaign was particularly brutal, characterized by pervasive rape and plunder. Some atrocities were carried out at the express command of military leaders, while others were committed when rank-and-file soldiers dismissed their orders: there was money to be made in loot and slaves. When the rebellion failed in early 1571, most of Granada’s surviving Moriscos were exiled to other parts of Castile for integration into Old Christian communities. Thousands more had already been sold into slavery. Morisco children were often separated from their parents by slavery, servitude, and deportation, and many parents fought long legal battles for their children’s freedom and for family reunification.


In the four decades following the rebellion, debates continued to rage over just what to do with Spain’s geographically and culturally diverse communities of New Christians. While the Moriscos had powerful Old Christian allies, they also astutely championed their own cause. Yet however Hispanicized the Moriscos became, they were still suspected of secretly practicing Islam—and indeed, many did attempt to recuperate or maintain their outlawed religion. In the end, Philip III was convinced by key advisors to undertake the mass expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain. The decision was criticized not just by Spaniards but also by the Vatican: the Crown of Castile, the Counter-Reformation power tasked with evangelizing the indigenous peoples of the Americas, was about to expel hundreds of thousands of indigenous Iberians—all of whom were baptized Catholics—to the Muslim-ruled lands of North Africa.


The expulsion took place between 1609 and 1614. Granada’s Moriscos and their descendants, now spread throughout Castile, were among the last to be deported. But this does not mean that they completely disappeared from the Peninsula or, most poignantly, its imaginary. In addition to those who avoided deportation and others who managed to return, the Moriscos lived on in peninsular literature written about them, both before and after their expulsion. The sixteenth century genres of the novela morisca (Moorish novel or novella) and Morisco ballad, with their Muslim protagonists matching or exceeding the honor, nobility, and pageantry of Christian knights, remained hugely popular, even as the trope of the romanticized Moor gave way to more critical visions of crypto-Muslims and Morisco rebels.


Authors as prominent as Miguel de Cervantes and Lope de Vega often employed Morisco characters in their visions of Spain to probe questions of national identity and belonging. But it was Ginés Pérez de Hita, a Murcian cobbler, who perhaps most profoundly engaged with the Morisco community in all of its dimensions, in life and on paper. Pérez de Hita lived and worked among New Christians and Old in a region of Spain deeply influenced by its Andalusi heritage, and his knowledge of and empathy for the Moriscos and their ancestors is evident in his writings. However, part of the power of his voice stems from the fact that he, like many young men of his day, joined the fight in the Alpujarra on the side of the Crown, personally witnessing—and participating in—the horrors of that civil war. His two masterpieces, the first and second parts of The Civil Wars of Granada, can be read as a response to the tragedy of the rebellion, as well as to his own part in it.


Part One of the Civil Wars of Granada, published in 1595, was a huge success in its time. Building on a long tradition of peninsular ballads to tell the story of the fall of Nasrid Granada, it is often considered both the apex of the novela morisca and the first modern European historical novel. Part Two, also known as The War of the Moriscos of Granada, was published posthumously in 1619, but never enjoyed the popularity of the first book. Lacking the novelistic ease and historical distance of Part One, this second installment is a raw portrayal of the civil war in the Alpujarra based on the author’s own experiences, as well as on the first-hand accounts of other witnesses and combatants, including Moriscos.


Although many scholars read the second part of Pérez de Hita’s Civil Wars of Granada as literature rather than history, its testimonial function is unquestionable. Pérez de Hita masterfully tapped into the drama of a war that breached Spaniards’ sense of decency and identity. One particularly poignant fusion of act and affect provided the inspiration for Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s To Love Beyond Death: the star-crossed love of a young Morisco couple, Maleha—“Maleca” in Calderón—and Tuzaní. Pérez de Hita claims to have interviewed several Moriscos, including Tuzaní himself, to write this episode. If we take the author at his word, this story forms part of the post-rebellion, pre-expulsion oral history of the Moriscos. Intentionally or not, therefore, Calderón preserves this tradition on the Peninsula when the Moriscos could no longer do so themselves.


While Calderón takes certain artistic liberties with geography, chronology, and character profiles, often turning to compressions and composites, he is remarkably true to Pérez de Hita’s text, which sought not only to recount the rebellion from various viewpoints, but also to explain its causes. In fact, the root of the rebellion is precisely where Calderón’s play begins.




Act I begins in the city of Granada, where a group of Moriscos have gathered at a private home. Don Juan Malec, a noble Morisco elder and member of the local government, tells everyone of the anti-Morisco laws newly published by King Philip II. Malec explains that meetings like theirs are now illegal, and recounts how earlier that day, as he defended the rights of his people, he was offended by Don Juan de Mendoza, an Old Christian. Arguing that Mendoza has offended the honor of all Moriscos, Malec exhorts them to rebel.


Malec’s daughter Clara wants to avenge the insult against her father, but the law forbids women from engaging in disputes of honor. Álvaro Tuzaní, who is in love with Clara, offers himself in matrimony: as her husband, he could exact the revenge she desires. Clara refuses: she does not want to carry the stain of her family’s honor into her marriage. Meanwhile, Don Fernando de Válor (another Morisco nobleman) and the local Magistrate suggest to Malec that his daughter should marry Mendoza: since bringing him into the family would make Mendoza simultaneously offender and offended, the union would cancel out the need to avenge the affront. Clara accepts the offer to marry Mendoza, as she secretly plans to murder him in revenge. Feeling rejected, Álvaro leaves the house and goes looking for Mendoza on his own account.


The noble Mendoza (now imprisoned in the Alhambra, Granada’s palace-fortress, for offending Malec) and the soldier Garcés discuss the earlier events and the rising tensions between Old and New Christians. Isabel Tuzaní, Álvaro’s sister and Mendoza’s lover, pays a visit to the prisoner, but hides when her brother arrives. As Álvaro seeks to redress Malec’s honor, he fights Mendoza, but they are interrupted by the arrival of Válor and the Magistrate. They propose to Mendoza the idea of marrying Clara to amend the affront to her family. Mendoza scoffs at the plan: from his perspective, even though the Malecs are of royal Andalusi lineage, he is still superior to them by virtue of his Old Christian ancestry. The act ends with Álvaro and Válor announcing plans for revenge against the Christians.


Act II is set in the Alpujarra, about three years later. The proud and arrogant Don Juan de Austria, Philip II’s half-brother, has been charged with pacifying the Morisco rebellion. Mendoza warns him of the dangers of underestimating the enemy, and relates that Fernando de Válor has been declared “King of the Moriscos,” changing his name to Abenhumeya. As the new king, Abenhumeya imposes Islam on his subjects, and the Morisco characters Arabize their names: Álvaro goes solely by Tuzaní; Isabel, now married to Abenhumeya, is called Lidora; and Clara becomes Maleca.


As the Christians discuss the best strategy for the attack, Garcés returns to camp with a Morisco captive named Alcuzcuz—a local merchant and the play’s gracioso (comic relief character)—who promises to reveal a secret entrance into the Morisco camp in exchange for his life. Though ordered to imprison him, Garcés secretly takes Alcuzcuz to the mountains, hoping to impress his commanders by scouting out the secret entrance himself. Instead, the gracioso tricks Garcés and runs away with his food and wine. Meanwhile, pursued by Morisco troops, Garcés hides in a cave where he finds a natural mineshaft under the town of Galera that can be packed with explosives to destroy the city’s defenses.


Garcés returns to camp with this intelligence, and Don Juan de Austria decides to attack Galera first. Meanwhile, Malec marries his daughter, Maleca, to Tuzaní in Abenhumeya’s palace, but the celebration is soon interrupted by the sound of Christian war drums. Abenhumeya assigns his most trusted people to defend the three main rebel strongholds: the king himself will defend the town of Berja; Tuzaní, Gabia; and Malec, Galera. The newly wedded Maleca must go with her father to Galera, but Tuzaní promises that he will ride every night to see her.


As promised, Tuzaní arrives in Galera that night to see Maleca. He is accompanied by Alcuzcuz, whom he leaves outside the walls to watch over the mare they rode to the city. But Alcuzcuz gets drunk and allows the mare to escape. The Christian advance forces Tuzaní to return to Gabia, and though he wants to bring Maleca with him, without the mare he cannot do so and still reach Gabia in time to defend it. As he weighs love versus honor, Maleca encourages him to go without her.


Act III begins the following day, when Tuzaní returns to Galera. He arrives as the Christians detonate the explosives in the mineshaft. With the defensive wall compromised, the Spanish army storms Galera, killing Malec and fatally wounding Maleca. As the Christians loot the town, Tuzaní finds his wife. With her last breath, Maleca reveals that she was killed for her jewels by a Spanish soldier, and Tuzaní vows to exact revenge against the unknown murderer.


After destroying Galera, Don Juan de Austria is convinced by his advisors that the best way to proceed is with mercy. Mendoza is tasked with offering amnesty in the court of Abenhumeya: if the Moriscos surrender, they will be forgiven; if not, they will suffer the fate of those in Galera. Meanwhile, Tuzaní and Alcuzcuz disguise themselves and infiltrate the Christian camp, looking for Maleca’s murderer. They find a group of soldiers playing cards, betting with the loot taken from Galera. Tuzaní identifies the jewels that he had given Maleca at their wedding and offers to buy them, on the condition that the soldiers reveal who had taken them. 


The exchange is interrupted when a fight begins offstage. Garcés, who is at the center of it, kills a soldier and then finds himself surrounded and outnumbered. Moved by his sense of fairness, Tuzaní intervenes to defend Garcés. For this he is incarcerated, along with Garcés and Alcuzcuz. In jail, Garcés thanks Tuzaní for saving his life, and promises to return the favor. The two men strike up a conversation, but as they speak, Tuzaní realizes that Garcés is Maleca’s murderer. After eliciting a confession, Tuzaní takes out a concealed knife and stabs Garcés in the chest.


Tuzaní escapes, but is soon chased down by Christian soldiers and Don Juan de Austria himself. Isabel appears atop a wall to announce that Abenhumeya, her husband and king, has been murdered by his own guards. She surrenders the Alpujarra to Don Juan de Austria, and begs him to pardon her brother, Tuzaní. Don Juan de Austria agrees, praising the undying love of the Morisco for his murdered wife.




To Love Beyond Death deals with complicated questions of religious and ethnic difference in sixteenth-century Spain, which were primarily exhibited through language and customs. However, these can’t be separated from questions of class and gender, which so profoundly influenced early modern lives and their corresponding liberties. Although Calderón may represent the plight of the Moriscos and the diversity of their communities sympathetically, he wrote from the point of view of the victors—Old Christian males—long after the Moriscos had been summarily expelled from Spain. Thus translating the play, as well as staging it today, inevitably brings up ethical questions around representation.


The dialectal speech of the gracioso Alcuzcuz—an example of the Morisco “jargon” written for the Spanish stage (Devos 101-105)—is a good example of the delicacy required in a modern production. Alcuzcuz is presented as a faithful, albeit flawed Muslim who continually evokes Islamic and Andalusi culture and customs, in what often seem to be designed as comical moments. He also mocks his Old Christian foes in an irregular Castilian that is meant to represent the imperfect acculturation of the Morisco population. This makes him a stand-in for the native Arabic speakers—as indigenous to the Iberian Peninsula as the Christian population colonizing Granada—on whom Spanish was imposed, and whose native tongue was suddenly made illegal. Not yet proficient in Castilian, the language of the conquerors, Alcuzcuz must negotiate a path between the impositions of empire and the demands of resistance.


In his struggle to speak the language of the colonizer, Alcuzcuz carries in his speech the marks of an unwanted and feared “other.” Given that he is a Muslim character—and in many ways, a caricature—in a play written by a Christian playwright in seventeenth century Spain, certain acts of ventriloquism should be expected. In the original text, for example, Alcuzcuz refers to the holy book of Islam, al-Qur’an, as “alacrán” (Coenen v. 230), a phonetically similar word that in Spanish means “scorpion.” The exchange—designed to be comical, but actually as poisonous as the arachnid in question—reinforces Alcuzcuz’s social marginality by emphasizing his ethnic and religious difference.


Yet Alcuzcuz’s speech is also a matter of social class, as is so much in this play. In the comedia, the gracioso is generally a character from the lower social classes who works as a servant for the nobility. These sidekicks often use their position to manipulate the actions of their masters, just as the playwrights often manipulate the graciosos to advance the plot. As an Arabic-speaking Muslim, Alcuzcuz is in an even more precarious position than most graciosos. It is not surprising, then, that Calderón utilizes the follies of this character to set up both the siege of Galera and Clara’s unfortunate presence in it. At the same time, Calderón also emphasizes the lack of difference between the majority of his Old and New Christian characters. Tuzaní, for instance, is of noble lineage and high social standing, as well as fully bicultural—which allows him to carry out his revenge. He infiltrates the royal forces while disguised as an Old Christian. If Tuzaní could so easily pass for an Old Christian, how different could he really be? Or was it this lack of difference that made him so dangerous?


The war against the Moriscos in the Alpujarra had, at its core, the need to legitimize the occupation of southern Spain by Christian forces, and to bring the indigenous community—and particularly its nobles—into submission. The brutality with which the uprising was quelled by the Crown profoundly influenced Calderón’s comedia. In just one of the many examples of how Calderón reveals—and in so doing, condemns—the dehumanization of Moriscos and the violence of their oppressors, the Old Christian character Mendoza, showing signs of remorse for having offended Malec, is rebuked by the soldier Garcés: “Don’t apologize. / You did well to strike Malec. / A New Christian should not think / that being old will protect him / if he dares to cross a Mendoza” (vv. 547-551). In this atmosphere of profound anti-Morisco sentiment, Garcés foreshadows the ferocity of the Christian attack against the city of Galera when he vows to take the life of every inhabitant, “…without mercy for the young, / clemency for the old, or respect for the women” (vv. 1712-1713). In fact, the emotional arc of this story revolves around Clara’s murder in Galera, a stand-in for the many Moriscas who were raped, killed, and enslaved during the rebellion.


While female characters in comedias were often victims of physical and sexual violence, as was historically the case, Calderón and his contemporaries also endowed women with a nuanced, yet extraordinary agency. In To Love, Calderón gestures toward the agency of his characters’ real-life Morisca counterparts, who actively fought for their homes and their families, both by taking up arms and advocating for peace. The character of Isabel Tuzaní is a good example: in the first act, she is a Catholic Morisca engaged in a secret love affair with Mendoza, an Old Christian who has shunned her people. In the second act, she is a renegade (a convert from Christianity to Islam) married to Fernando de Válor, the newly proclaimed king of the Moriscos. Now called Lidora and Abenhumeya, this royal couple subversively mirrors Isabella and Ferdinand, the Old Christian monarchs who conquered Granada. Despite Isabel’s apparent docility and religious fluidity, at the end of the play she proclaims herself to be a faithful Catholic who was kept in the Alpujarra and made to adhere to Islam against her will. When she surrenders the crown of Abenhumeya to the Don Juan de Austria, in one fell swoop she saves her brother, Álvaro Tuzaní, and ends the civil war.


Behind this duality of Isabel/Lidora lies the tension between early modern Christian—and, indeed, Muslim—notions of gender, which idealized women’s chastity and domesticity, and women’s ability to take on political agency, a capacity traditionally assigned to men. On the one hand, Isabel brings onto the stage a series of historical facts about Moriscos that were convenient for her Old Christian playwright: there were those who had truly converted to Christianity; those who, regardless of their private religious convictions, were loyal to the Crown; and those who were forced to rebel, whether at the hands of Morisco combatants or in self-defense against Old Christian aggressors. On the other hand, Isabel—like her namesake the Catholic Queen—demonstrates that women can transgress traditional gender roles and wield political power.


This contradiction is also visible in the character of Clara Malec, though in a more subversive manner. In the beginning, when she discovers that Mendoza dishonored her father, and that a daughter cannot avenge him, Clara complains that women “can deprive father and husband / of their honor,” presumably through their sexual transgressions, “yet never grant it to them” (vv. 245-246). She goes on to proclaim, “Had I been born a man, / Granada and the whole world would see / whether that Mendoza would be / as arrogant and daring / to a young man as to an old one” (vv. 247-251). While technically correct—though any social or sexual deviance by women could ruin a family’s name, the law precluded them from seeking redress—Clara decides to marry Mendoza so she can get close to him and kill him in revenge. This means knowingly sacrificing her own life and happiness—and any future hope of marrying her true love, Tuzaní—for her family’s honor.


Although Clara’s plan would not come to fruition, the idea that women can, indeed, affect honor is pursued through two different avenues at the very moment of her death. First, when she believes she is talking to her killer, Clara insults his honor by accusing him of having “neither pity nor resolve— / no pity, because you wounded me, / no resolve, because you won’t end my life” (vv. 2114-2116). Then, when Clara realizes she is speaking to a Morisco (but does not yet know it is her husband, Tuzaní), she exposes the true motives behind her murder and, by extension, much of the violence perpetrated by Old Christians in the Alpujarra: money. Neither religion nor politics—and in this case, not even sexual desire or the desire for power through sex—lead to the murder of Clara. She is killed, quite simply, to satisfy Garcés’s greed. With her final breaths, rather than confessing her sins, Clara testifies against her killer, ensuring that her death will be avenged. 


To Love Beyond Death dramatizes a civil war driven as much by religious and ethnic differences as by political and economic motivations. The defeat of the uprising played a key role in the consolidation of Spain’s identity and its imperial expansion. While Philip II, self-proclaimed defender of the Church against heretics and infidels, promoted a national myth of “pure” Christian heritage, historians systematically occluded Spain’s Moorish past and promoted instead ancient Gothic and Roman roots. The Moriscos themselves came to be seen by many as a threat to State and Church authority—one that needed to be swiftly and completely eradicated. For these reasons, recuperating the voices and representing the stories of Moriscos was a powerful gesture in Calderón’s day, and continues to be so in our own.




While the specific historical context of To Love may be new to some of our readers, much of its rhetoric is unfortunately familiar. In recent years, Islamophobic rhetoric has openly and purposefully been employed in many Western nations, with devastating results for Muslims, their families, and their communities. To Love contests early modern Islamophobia by placing on stage the bodies and perspectives of the vanquished and the displaced, yet it can also be employed to open up dialogues about interfaith and interethnic relations today. Indeed, this has already occurred through two productions in Spain.


Apparently unproduced through most of the twentieth century, To Love returned in 1993 with a production by Teatro Corsario of Valladolid. During a time of unprecedented immigration to Spain from North Africa, the company presented their production as a direct response to xenophobia in Spanish society, as well as to violent inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflicts beyond the Peninsula (Urdiales 4). However, Corsario also evoked Spain’s longstanding colonial presence in North Africa by setting their production—through set, props, and costumes—in late nineteenth-century Morocco, when Spain quashed another uprising, and confirmed its military control over the cities of Ceuta and Melilla. The relevance of this dramaturgical decision is clear: Ceuta and Melilla remain sites of political conflict and large-scale immigration crises today.


In 2005, Madrid’s Compañía Nacional de Teatro Clásico (CNTC) also pointed to xenophobia as a perennial issue that they hoped to address through their production of To Love (Vasco 7, Pallín 9-10). Theirs was an especially tense moment in Spain, as the performances took place the year following a devastating terrorist attack in Madrid: on March 11, 2004, nearly 200 people died and another 2,000 were injured when Islamic extremists detonated explosives on four commuter trains during the morning rush-hour. Al-Andalus—as an integral part of Spain’s identity on the one hand, and as an inspiration for jihad on the other—featured all too prominently in the national conversation. The CNTC opted to magnify the presence of Muslim characters and Islamic practices onstage, even when absent from Calderón’s text, thus presenting an implicit plea not to repeat a discriminatory and reactionary history in the face of a national tragedy.


Both Teatro Corsario and the CNTC’s productions of To Love were widely received as appropriate and constructive responses to Spain’s long history of ethno-religious strife. They also point to how racializing discourses can be used to obscure the political and economic motives behind domestic and international conflicts. We hope that our translation will afford English-language artists and audiences the opportunity to explore and reflect upon these themes as well.




Our translation is based on Erik Coenen’s 2008 critical edition of the play. There is considerable confusion and debate around the date of the play’s composition, as well as the authenticity, content, and even the titles of its earliest editions (Coenen 47-62). While we don’t know when Calderón wrote Amar, Coenen dates it sometime before 1650. He also cites evidence that To Love may have been performed in or around 1660, but explains that this production would not have been its premiere. Calderón himself condemned the 1677 El Tuzaní de la Alpujarra, which was published twice that year without his permission or collaboration, and with important defects. In publishing a posthumous 1691 edition titled Amar después de la muerte, Juan Vera Tassis greatly improved upon that earlier text, but it is not known whether he worked from a version of the play that has since been lost, or if the revisions were his own. Still, the Vera Tassis version lacks key passages present in the 1677 editions and, in some cases, offers inferior emendations. Therefore, while Coenen bases his edition in the 1691 publication by Vera Tassis, he incorporates aspects of the 1677 editions as well.


It should also be noted that there are two extant English translations of Amar, both titled Love After Death. The first is Denis Florence McCarthy’s, published in London in 1853. The second is Roy Campbell’s, edited and prepared by Eric Bentley after the translator’s death, and published in 1959. While both translations are admirable, they are also both constricted by the translators’ decision to adhere strictly to rhyme and meter. We believe that To Love, which is both timely and timeless, deserves this new translation.