Benavente, Jacinto (12 August 1866 - 14 July 1954)
Jacinto Benavente (12 August 1866 - 14 July 1954)
University of Florida
BOOKS: Teatro fantástico (Madrid: Tipografía Franco Española, 1892; revised, Madrid: Fortanet, 1905);
Vilanos (Madrid: Fortanet, 1893);
Versos (Madrid: Tipografía Franco-Española, 1893);
Cartas de mujeres: Coledonadas, first series (Madrid: Tipografía Franco-Española, 1893);
El nido ajeno: Comedia en tres actos, en prosa (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1894);
Gente conocida: Escenas de la vida moderna: Divididas en cuatro actos (Madrid: Imp. y lit. del Asilo de Huér fanos, 1896);
El marido de la Téllez: Boceto de comedia en un acto (Madrid: Administración Lírico-Dramática, 1897);
La comida de las fieras: Comedia en tres actos y un cuadro (Madrid: B. Rodríguez, 1898);
La farándula: Comedia en dos actos (Madrid: Fortanet, 1898);
Figulinas (Madrid: Fortanet, 1898);
Viaje de instrucción: arzuela en un acto y cuatro cuadros (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1900);
Despedida cruel: Comedia en un acto (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1901);
La gobernadora: Comedia en tres actos (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1901);
Modas: Sainete en un acto y en prosa (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1901);
Lo cursi: Comedia de tres actos (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1901); Cartas de mujeres, 2 volumes, second and third series (Madrid: Mazo, 1901, 1902);
El tren de los maridos: Juguete cómico en dos actos y en prosa (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1902);
Amor de amar: Comedia en dos actos y en prosa (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1902);
El primo Roman: Comedia en tres actos (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1902);
Sacrificios: Drama en tres actos (Madrid: Viuda de Tello, 1902);
Alma triunfante: Drama en tres actos (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1902);
El criado de Don Juan (Madrid: Centro Editorial Hispano-Americano, 1902);
El automóvil: Comedia en dos actos y en prosa (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1903);
La noche del sábacto: Novela escénica en dnco cuadros (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1903);
El hombrecito: Comedia en tres actos, original (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1903);
Al natural: Comedia en dos actos y en prosa (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1904);
Teatro, 38 volumes (Madrid: Fortanet, 1904-1931)-comprises volume 1, El nido ajeno, Gente conocida, El marido de la Téllez, and De alivio; volume 2, Don Juan, La farándula, La comida de la fieras, and Teatro feminista; volume 3, Cuento de amor, Operación quirúrgica, Despedida cruel, La gata de Angora, Viaje de instrucción, and Por la herida; volume 4, Modas, Lo cursi, Sin querer, and Sacrificos; volume 5, La gobernactora and El primo Román; volume 6, Amor de amar and El tren de los maridos; volume 7, Alma triunfante, El automóvil, and La noche del sábacto; volume 8, Los favoritos, El hombrecito, Mademoiselle de Belle-Lie, and Por qué se ama; volume 9, Al natural, La casa de la dicha, and El dragón defuego; volume 10, Richelieu, La princesa Bebé, and No fumactores; volume 11, Rosas de otoño and Buena boda; volume 12, El susto de la condesa, Cuento inmoral, La sobresalienta, and Los malhechores del bien; volume 13, Las cigarras hormigas and Más fuerte que el amor; volume 14, Manon Lescaut, Los búhos, and Abuela y nieta; volume 15, La princesa sin corazón, El amor asusta, La copa encantada, and Los ojos de los muertos; volume 16, La historia de Otelo, La sonrisa de Gioconda, El último minué, Todos somos unos, and Los intereses creados; volume 17, Señora ama, El marido de su viuda, and La fuerza bruta; volume 18, De pequeñas causas, Hacia la verdad, For las nubes, De cerca, and ¡ A ver qué hace un hombre! volume 19, La escuela de las princesas, La señorita se aburre, El príncipe que todo lo aprendió en los libros, and Ganarse la vida; volume 20, El nietecito, La losa de los sueños, and La malquerida; volume 21, El destino manda, El collar de estrellas, and La verdad; volume 22, La propia estimación and Campo de armiño [second edition]; volume 23, La tύnica amarilla and La ciudad alegrey confiada [second edition]; volume 24, El mal que nos hacen, Los cachorros, and Caridad; volume 25, Mefistófela and La lnmaculada de los Dolores, volume 26, La ley de los hijos, Por ser con todos leal, ser para todos traidor, and La honra de los hombres; volume 27, La vestal de occidente, Una señora, and Una pobre mujer; volume 28, La cenicienta, Más aliá de la muerte, and por qué se quitó Juan de la bebida; volume 29, Lecciones de burn amor, Un par de botas, and La otra honra; volume 30, La virtud sospechosa, Nadk sabe lo que qukre o el bailaríny el trabajactor, and ¡Si creerás tú que es por mi gusto! volume 31, Alfilerazos, Los nuevos yernos, and El suicidio de Lucerito; volume 32, La mariposa que voló sobre el mar, El hijo de Polichinela, and A laspuertas del delo; volume 33, La noche iluminada and Y va de cuento; volume 34, ¡El demonio fue antes ángel! and ¡ No quiero, no quiero! volume 35, Pepa Doncel and Para el cielo y los altares; volume 36, Vidas cruzadas and Los amigos del hombre; volume 37, Los andrajos de la pύrpura and De muy buena familia; and volume 38, Literatura and La melodía del Jazz-Band;
Rosas de otoño (Madrid: Fortanet, 1905);
Teatro rápido (Barcelona: A. López, 1906)—comprises El criado de Don Juan, Comedia italiana, Los primeros, Maternidad, Paternidad, Confidendas, Modernismo, Flirt, La cartera, En la playa, Bodas reales, Entre artis-tas, El encanto de una hora, and La senda del amor;
Los ojos de los muertos: Drama en tres actos y en prosa (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1907);
Más fuerte que el amor (Barcelona, 1907);
Todos somos unos: Sainete lírico en un acto y en prosa (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1907);
La copa encantada: Zarzuela en un acto (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1907);
Los intereses creactos: Comedia de polichinelas en dos actos, un prologo y tres cuadros (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1907);
El marido de su viuda: Comedia en un acto (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1908);
La fuerza bruta: Comedia en un acto y dos cuadros, en prosa (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1908);
Los buhos: Comedia en tres actos y en prosa (Madrid: Sucesores de Hernando, 1908);
El amor asusta: Comedia en un acto y en prosa (Madrid: Suce-sores de Hernando, 1908);
El teatro del pueblo (Madrid: Fernando Fe, 1909);
La señorita se aburre: Comedia en un acto basada en una poesia de Tennyson (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1909);
El príncipe que todo lo aprendió en los libros: Cuento en dos actos y siete cuadros (Madrid: Artes Gráficas Mateu, 1910);
Obras escogidas (Madrid: Biblioteca Renacimiento, 1910);
La escuela de las princesas: Comedia en tres actos y en prosa (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1910);
El dragón defuego: Drama en tres actos y un epílogo, dividios en nueve cuadros (Barcelona: E. Domenech, 1910);
De sobremesa: Crónicas, 6 volumes (Madrid: Imp. Española, 1910-1916);
Palabras, palabras (Madrid: F. Fé, 1911);
La losa de los sueñnos: Comedia en dos actos, en prosa (Madrid: Nuevo Mundo, 1911);
Acotaciones (Madrid: Gráficas Mateu, 1914);
La gata de Angora: Comedia en cuatro actos (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1914);
Operación quirύrgka: Comedia en un acto y en prosa (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1914);
La malquerida: Drama en tres actos y en prosa (Madrid: Nuevo Mundo, 1914);
El collar de estrellas: Comedia en cuatro actos, en prosa (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1915);
Campo de armiño: Comedia en tres actos (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1916);
La ciudad alegre y confiada: Comedia en tres cuadros y un prólogo considerados como tres actos, 2a park de “Los intereses creados” (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1916);
Crónicas y diálogos (Valencia: J. Pallarés, 1916);
La propia estimación: Comedia en tres actos y enprosa (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1916);
Mis mejores escenas (Madrid: Hesperia, 1916);
La sobrasalienta: Sainete lirico (Madrid, 1916);
El mal que nos hacen: Comedia en tres actos y en prosa (Madrid: Sanz Calleja, 1917);
Los niños (Madrid: Hesperia, 1917);
Las mejores páginas de Jacinto Benavente, 2 volumes, compiled by Alejandro Miquis (Madrid: Sáenz de Jubera, 1917-1918);
Los cachorros: Comedia en tres actos, en prosa (Madrid: Sanz Calleja, 1918);
Mefistófela: Comedia-opereta en tres actos, en prosa, text by Benavente, music by Prudencio Mun̄oz (Madrid: Sanz Calleja, 1918);
La lnmaculada de los Dolores: Novela escenka en dnco cuadros, consideractos tres actos (Madrid: Sanz Calleja, 1918);
Páginas selectas (San José, Costa Rica: Falcó & Borrasé, 1918)—comprises El cantor de la miseria, Leyes santuarias, La rebeldía, El pan nuestro, Cartas de mujeres, Paternidad, Los intereses creados, La escuela de las prin-cesas, El nido ajeno, El príncipe que todo aprendió en los libros, and La losa de los sueños;
La princesa sin corazón: Cuento de hadas (Madrid: Biblioteca Estrella, 1918);
Conferencias (Madrid: Sucesores de Hernando, 1924)— comprises “La moral en el teatro,““Influencía del escritor en la vida moderna,” “Filosofia de la moda,““Psicologia del autor dramático,” “Algunas mujeres de Shakespeare,““La mujer y su mayor enemigo,” and “Algunas particularidades del teatro antiguo español”;
Lecciones de buen amor (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1924);
Cuando los hijos de Eva no son los hijos de Adán, based on Margaret Kennedy’s novel The Constant Nymph (Madrid: Hernando, 1931);
Pensamientos (Madrid: Hernando, 1931);
La moral del divorcio: Conferencia dialogada, dividida en tres partes (Madrid: Helénica, 1932);
La duquesa gitana: Comedia de magia en cinco actos divididos en diet cuadros (Madrid: Helénica, 1932);
Santa Rusia: Primera park de una trilogía (Madrid: Helénica, 1932);
La verdad inventada: Comedia en tres actos (Madrid: Artes gráficas, Sucesores de Rivadeneyra, 1933);
El rival de su mujer: Comedia en tres actosy enprosa (Madrid: Artes gráficas, Sucesores de Rivadeneyra, 1933);
La novia de nieve: Comedia en un prólogo y tres actos (Madrid: Artes gráficas, Sucesores de Rivadeneyra, 1934);
El pan comido en la mono: Comedia en tres actos (Madrid: Artes gráficas, Sucesores de Rivadeneyra, 1934);
Memorias de un madrileño, puestas en acción en dnco cuadros (Madrid: Artes gráficas, Sucesores de Rivadeneyra, 1934);
Ni al amor ni al mar: Drama en cuatro actos y un epílogo (Madrid: Artes gráficas, Sucesores de Rivadeneyra, 1934);
“No juguéis con esas cosas”: Comedia en tres actos y en prosa (Madrid: Artes gráficas, Sucesores de Rivadeneyra, 1935);
Cualquiera lo sabe: Comedia en tres actos y en prosa (Madrid: Artes gráficas, Sucesores de Rivadeneyra, 1935);
Los intereses creactos. Señora ama (Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1938);
La malquerida y La noche del sdbácto (Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1939);
Plan de estudios para una escuela de arte escénico (Madrid: Aguilar, 1940);
Obras completas, 11 volumes (Madrid: Aguilar, 1942-1958);
Así piensan los personajes de Benavente, edited by José Maria Viqueira (Madrid: Aguilar, 1958);
Recuerdos y olvidos: Memorias (Madrid: Aguilar, 1959);
Las terceras de ABC, edited by Adolfo Prego (Madrid: Prensa Española, 1976).
Editions and Collections: Los intereses creados. La malquerida, edited by José Montero Padilla (Madrid: Castalia, 1996);
Los intereses creados, edited by Francisco Javier Díaz de Castro and Almudena del Olmo Iturriarte (Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1998);
Los intereses creactos. La ciudad alegre y confiada, edited by Eduardo Galán (Madrid: Biblioteca Nueva, 1998);
Teatro fantástico. La sonrisa de Gioconda, edited by Javier Huerta Calvo and Emilio Peral Vega (Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 2001);
Señora ama. La malquerida, edited by Virtudes Serrano (Madrid: Cátedra, 2002).
Editions in English: The Smile of Mona Lisa: A Play in One Act, translated by John Armstrong Herman (Boston: R. G. Badger, 1915);
Plays, 4 volumes, edited and translated by John Garrett Underhill (New York: Scribners, 1917-1924)-comprises volume 1, His Widow’s Husband, The Bonds of Interest, The Evil Doers of Good, and La Malquerida; volume 2, No Smoking, Princess Bebé, The Governor’s Wife, and Autumnal Roses; volume 3, The Prince Who Learned Everything out of Books, Saturday Night, In the Clouds, and The Truth; and volume 4, The School of Princesses, A Lady, The Magic of an Hour, and Field of Ermine;
At Close Range: A Comedy in One Act, translated by Underhill (New York: S. French, 1936).
PLAY PRODUCTIONS: El nido ajeno, Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia, 6 October 1894;
Gente conocida, Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia, 21 October 1896;
El marido de la Télléz, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 13 February 1897;
De alivio, Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia, 27 February 1897;
Don Juan, translated from Moliére’s play, Madrid, Teatro de la Princesa, 31 October 1897;
La farándula, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 30 November 1897;
La comida de las fieras, Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia, 7 November 1898;
Teatro feminista, text by Benavente, music by Pablo Bar-bero, Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia, 28 December 1898;
Operación quirúrgka, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 4 May 1899;
Despedida cruel, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 7 December 1899;
La gata de Angora, Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia, 31 March 1900;
Viaje de instructión, text by Benavente, music by Amadeo Vives, Madrid, Teatro Eslava, 6 April 1900;
Por la herida, Barcelona, Teatro de Novedades, 15 July 1900;
Modas, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 18 January 1901;
Lo cursi, Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia, 19 January 1901;
Sin querer, Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia, 3 March 1901;
Sacrificios, Barcelona, Teatro de Novedades, 19 July 1901;
La gobernadora, Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia, 8 October 1901;
El primo Román, Saragossa, Spain, Teatro Principal, 12 November 1901;
Amor de amar, Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia, 24 February 1902;
¡Libertad! based on Santiago Rusiñol y Prats’s play, Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia, 17 March 1902;
El tren de los maridos, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 18 April 1902;
Alma triunfante, Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia, 2 December 1902;
El automóvil, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 19 December 1902;
La noche del sábado, Madrid, Teatro Español, 17 March 1903;
Los favontos, adapted from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, Seville, Teatro de San Fernando de Sevilla, 20 March 1903;
El hombrecito, Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia, 23 March 1903;
Por queé se ama, Madrid, Teatro Español, 26 October 1903;
Mademoiselle de Belle-Isle, based on Alexandre Dumas père’s play, Vallactolid, Spain, El Gran Teatro Calderón de la Barca, 29 October 1903;
Al natural, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 20 November 1903;
La casa de la dicha, Barcelona, Teatro de las Artes, 9 December 1903;
No fumadores, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 3 March 1904;
Richelieu, based on Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s play, Mexico City, 15 March 1904;
El dragón de fuego, Madrid, Teatro Español, 16 March 1904;
Buena boda, adapted from Emile Augier’s Un beau marriage, Madrid, 1905;
Rosas de otoño, Madrid, Teatro Español, 13 April 1905;
El susto de la condesa, Barcelona, Teatro Novedades, 18 July 1905;
Cuento inmoral, Barcelona, Teatro Novedades, 22 July 1905;
Manon Lescaut, by Benavente and Alfonso Danvila, adapted from Abbe Prevost’s novel, Madrid, Teatro Español, 30 November 1905;
Los malhechores del bien, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 1 December 1905;
La sobresalienta, text by Benavente, music by Ruperto Chapí, Madrid, Teatro Español, 23 December 1905;
Las cigarras hormigas, Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia, 24 December 1905;
El encanto de una hora, Madrid, 30 December 1905;
Más fuerte que el amor, Madrid, Teatro Español, 22 February 1906;
La princesa Bebé, Madrid, 31 March 1906;
El amor asusta, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 10 January 1907;
Los búhos, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 8 February 1907;
Abuela y nieta, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 21 February 1907;
La copa encantada, adapted from Ludovico Ariosto’s story, text by Benavente, music by Vicente Lleó, Madrid, Teatro de la Zarzuela, 16 March 1907;
Todos somos unos, Madrid, Teatro Eslava, 21 September 1907;
La historia de Otelo, Madrid, Teatro Apolo, 11 October 1907;
Los ojos de los muertos, Madrid, Teatro de la Princesa, 7 November 1907;
Los intereses creados, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 9 December 1907;
Señora ama, Madrid, Teatro de la Princesa, 22 February 1908;
De pequeñas causas. . ., Madrid, Teatro de la Princesa, 14 March 1908;
El marido de su viuda, Madrid, Teatro Príncipe Alfonso, 19 October 1908;
La fuerza bruta, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 10 November 1908;
Hacia la verdad, Madrid, Teatro del Príncipe Alfonso, 23 December 1908;
Por las nubes, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 20 January 1909;
De cerca, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 10 April 1909;
La escuela de las princesas, Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia, 14 October 1909;
El último minué, Madrid, 23 October 1909;
La señorita se aburre, adapted from Alfred Tennyson’s poem, Madrid, Teatro del Principe Alfonso, 1 December 1909;
El príncipe que todo lo aprendió en los libros, Madrid, Teatro del Príncipe Alfonso, 20 December 1909;
Ganarse la vida, Madrid, Teatro del Príncipe Alfonso, 20 December 1909;
El nietecito, adapted from a Brothers Grimm story, Madrid, Teatro del Principe Alfonso, 27 January 1910;
Caridad, Madrid, 1911;
El criado de Dm Juan, Madrid, 29 March 1911;
La losa de los sueños, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 9 November 1911;
En este Madrid, Madrid, 2 April 1913;
La malquerida, Madrid, Teatro de la Princesa, 12 December 1913;
El destino manda, translated from Paul Hervieu’s Le destinest maítre, Madrîd, Teatro de la Princesa, 25 March 1914;
El collar de estrellas, Madrid, Teatro de la Princesa, 4 March 1915;
La propia estimación, Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia, 22 December 1915;
Campo de armiño, Madrid, Teatro de la Princesa, 14 February 1916;
La túnka amarilla, translated from George C. Hazelton Jr. and Harry Benrimo’s play, Madrid, Teatro de la Princesa, 22 April 1916;
La ciudad alegre y confiada, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 18 May 1916;
El mal que nos hacen, Madrid, Teatro de la Princesa, 23 March 1917;
Los cachorros, Madrid, Teatro de la Princesa, 8 March 1918;
La Meftstófela, text by Benavente, music by Prudencio Muñoz, Madrid, Teatro Reina Victoria, 29 April 1918;
La lnmaculada de los Dolores, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 30 April 1918;
La ley de los hijos, Madrid, Teatro de la Zarzuela, 23 December 1918;
La fuerza bruta, text by Benavente, music by Federico Chaves, Madrid, 1919;
La vestal de occidente, Madrid, Teatro de la Princesa, 2 March 1919;
Por ser con todos leal, ser para todos traidor, Madrid, Teatro del Centra, 5 March 1919;
La honra de los hombres, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 2 May 1919;
El audaz, adapted from Benito Pérez Galdos’s novel, Madrid, Teatro Espaiiol, 6 December 1919;
La cenicienta, adaptation of Cinderella, Madrid, Teatro Espaiiol, 20 December 1919;
Y va de cuento, Madrid, Teatro de la Princesa, 22 December 1919;
Una señora, Madrid, Teatro del Centro, 2 January 1920;
Una pobre mujer, Madrid, Teatro de la Princesa, 3 April 1920;
Más aliá de la muerte, Buenos Aires, 1920;
Por qué se quitó Juan de la bebida, Montevideo, Teatro Solís, 30 August 1922;
Lecciones de burn amor, Madrid, Teatro Español, 2 April 1924;
Un par de botas, Madrid, Teatro de la Princesa, 25 May 1924;
La otra honra, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 19 September 1924;
La virtud sospechosa, Madrid, Teatro Fontalba, 20 October 1924;
¡Si creerás tύ que es por mi gusto! Madrid, 1925;
Nadie sabe lo que quiere, o El bailarín y el trabajador, Madrid, Teatro Cómico, 14 March 1925;
Alfilerazos, Buenos Aires, Teatro Avenida, 18 June 1925; Madrid, Teatro del Centro, 5 October 1925;
El suicidio de Lucerito, Madrid, Teatro Alcázar, 17 July 1925;
Los nuevos yernos, Madrid, Teatro Fontalba, 2 October 1925;
La mariposa que voló sobre el mar, Madrid, Teatro Fontalba, 22 December 1926;
El hijo de Polkhinela, Madrid, 16 April 1927;
La noche iluminada, Madrid, Teatro Fontalba, 22 December 1927;
El demonio fue antes ángel!, Madrid, Teatro Calderón, 18 February 1928;
¡No quiero, no quiero! Madrid, Teatro Fontalba, 10 March 1928;
Pepa Doncel, Madrid, Teatro Calderón, 21 November 1928;
Vidas cruzadas, Madrid, Teatro de Reina Victoria, 30 March 1929;
Los amigos del hombre, Madrid, Teatro Avenida, 27 October 1930;
Los andrajos de la pύrpura, Madrid, Teatro Mun̄oz Seca, 6 November 1930;
De muy buena familia, Madrid, Teatro Muñoz Seca, 11 March 1931;
Literatura, Madrid, Teatro Alcázar, 14 April 1931;
La melodía del Jazz-Band, Madrid, Teatro Fontalba, 30 October 1931;
Cuando los hijos de Eva no son los hijos de Adán, based on Margaret Kennedy’s novel The Constant Nymph, Madrid, Teatro Calderón, 5 November 1931;
Santa Rusia, Madrid, Teatro Beatriz, 6 October 1932;
La duquesa gitana, Madrid, Teatro Fontalba, 28 October 1932;
La moral del divorcio, Madrid, Teatro Avenida, 4 November 1932;
La verdad inventada, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 27 October 1933;
El rival de su mujer, Buenos Aires, Teatro Odeón, 1933;
El pan comido en la mono, Madrid, Teatro Fontalba, 12 January 1934;
Ni al amor ni al mar, Madrid, Teatro Español, 19 January 1934;
Memorias de un madrileño, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 8 November 1934;
La novia de nieve, Madrid, Teatro Español, 29 November 1934;
“No juguéis con esas cosas,” Madrid, Teatro Eslava, 18 January 1935;
Cualquiera lo sabe, Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia, 13 February 1935;
Lo increíble, Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia, 25 October 1940;
Aves y pájaros, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 30 October 1940;
Abuelo y nieto, San Sebastián, Spain, Teatro del Príncipe, 29 August 1941;
Y amargaba, Madrid, Teatro de la Zarzuela, 19 November 1941;
La última carta, Madrid, Teatro Alcázar, 9 December 1941;
La honradez de la cerradura, Madrid, Teatro Español, April 1942;
Al fin, mujer, San Sebastián, Spain, Teatro del Príncipe, 13 September 1942;
¡Hija del alma! Madrid, Teatro Lara, 17 September 1942;
La enlutada, Saragossa, Spain, Teatro Principal, 6 October 1942;
El demonio del teatro, Madrid, Teatro Cómico, 28 October 1942;
La culpa es tuya, San Sebastián, Spain, Teatro de la Zarzuela, 16 December 1942;
Los niños perdidos en la selva, San Sebastián, Spain, Teatro Principal, 14 January 1944;
Don Magín, el de las magias, Barcelona, Teatro Barcelona, 16 March 1944;
Espejo de grandes, Teatro Escuela de Arte, Penal del Dueso, Cantabria, Spain, 12 October 1944; Madrid, Teatro Lara, 11 June 1946;
Nieve en mayo, Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia, 19 January 1945;
La ciudad doliente, Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia, 14 April 1945;
Titania, Buenos Aires, 25 September 1945;
La infanzona, Buenos Aires, 6 December 1945; Madrid, 10 January 1947;
Al servicio de su Majestad Imperial, Madrid, 1947;
Abdicación, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 27 March 1948;
Divorcio de almas, Madrid, Teatro Fontalba, 30 September 1948;
Actoración, Madrid, Teatro Cómico, 3 December 1948;
Al amor hay que mandarlo al colegio, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 29 September 1950;
Su amante esposa, Madrid, Teatro Infanta Isabel, 20 October 1950;
Tú una vez y el diablo diez, Vallactolid, Spain, Teatro Lope de Vega, 23 October 1950;
Mater Imperatrix, Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia, 29 November 1950;
La vida en verso, Madrid, Teatro Infanta Isabel, 9 November 1951;
Ha llegado Don Juan, Barcelona, Teatro Comedia, 12 April 1952;
El lebrel del cielo, inspired by Francis Thompson’s The Hound of Heaven, Madrid, Teatro Calderón, 25 April 1952;
Servir, Madrid, Teatro Nacional María Guerrero, 22 January 1953;
El alfiler en la boca, Madrid, Teatro Infanta Isabel, 13 February 1953;
Almas prisioneras, Madrid, Teatro Alvarez Quintero, 26 February 1953;
Caperucita asusta al lobo, Madrid, Teatro Infanta Isabel, 23 September 1953;
Hijos, padres de sus padres, Madrid, Teatro Lara, 11 February 1954;
El marido de bronce, Madrid, Teatro Infanta Isabel, 23 April 1954;
Por salvar su amor, Madrid, Teatro Calderon, 2 November 1954;
El bufón de Hamlet, Madrid, Teatro Goya, 1958.
OTHER: Lope de Vega, Four Plays, introduction by Benavente, translated by John Garrett Underhill (New York: Scribners, 1936).
TRANSLATIONS: William Shakespeare, Cuento de amor: Comedia fantástka de Shakespeare (Madrid: Revista Nueva, 1899);
Alexandra Dumas père, Mademoiselle de Belle-Isle: Comediaen cinco actos y en prosa de Alejandro Dumas (padre) (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1903);
Moliére, Don Juan: Comedia de Molière en cinco actos (Madrid: Fortanet, 1904);
Paul Hervieu, El destino manda: Drama en dos actos, original y en prosa (Madrid: R. Velasco, 1914);
George C. Hazelton jr. and Harry Benrimo, La túnka amarilla: Leyenda china en tres actos, en prosa (Madrid: Sanz Calleja, 1916).
Jacinto Benavente, the author of more than 170 plays, dominated the Spanish stage for half a century. He achieved fame and official recognition in his long career, but also had many detractors. After he received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1922, his place in the literary canon was firmly established; but the decline of his creativity had already started by then and became more pronounced in the following decades. For a large part of the twentieth century, he was simultaneously the most revered and the most criticized playwright in Spain. He had great success with the Spanish public in commercial theaters and inspired many imitators; but despite his popularity and influence, a large group of respected intellectuals and critics maintained negative views about his plays and his impact on contemporary Spanish theater. These critics, including Ramón Pérez de Ayala, considered Benavente’s work outdated and unworthy of praise. Pérez de Ayala later rectified his position, but other critics still blamed Benavente for the perceived crisis of Spanish theater. They believed that he was too self-complacent because of his success with the Spanish middle-class public. After being attacked by critics and almost forgotten by the theatergoing public since the 1970s, Benavente’s disputed place in the canon has been seriously revised by scholars. Since the 1990s, his most important plays and his early works have reappeared in critical editions, and a younger generation of academics is evaluating his role in the renovation of the Spanish stage from new perspectives.
Jacinto Benavente y Martínez was born in Madrid on 12 August 1866. He was the youngest child of Venancia Martínez and Mariano Benavente, a respected doctor who is considered a pioneer in the field of pediatric medicine in Spain. The couple, who had two more sons, enjoyed a privileged place in Madrid society because of the doctor’s reputation. Among his patients and friends were well-known actors and writers, including the first Spanish winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, dramatist Jose Echegaray. The family had the opportunity to attend premieres and go to the theaters regularly.
Young Jacinto learned how to read at home and was ready to start his primary education at age five. Beginning in 1871, he attended Colegio San José, a municipal school affiliated with San Isidoro High School. During his childhood and early teenage years, he built several toy theaters and performed puppet shows for his friends and neighbors and the household maids. His first play was a fairy tale in one act, “El gato pardo” (The Leopard). He wrote and performed more plays for his puppet theater, such as the spectacle “Los cazadores de leones” (The Lion Hunters) and an adaptation of Nitre-Dame de Paris (1831, translated as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1833) by Victor Hugo. He even wrote an ambitious full-length play, “Las mil y una noches” (Arabian Nights), in his last year in high school, but it was never produced and none of these adolescent works were ever published. Besides original plays, he memorized and recited for his admiring audience scenes from classic and contemporary authors, including William Shakespeare, Molière, Friedrich Schiller, and the Spanish playwrights Lope de Vega, Pedro Calderón de la Barca, and José Zorrilla.
Benavente started to go to the theaters with his family at an early age; later on he insisted that he could vividly remember all the plays and musicals he attended between ages four and twelve. He also read plays by both Spanish and foreign authors, especially Shakespeare, whom his father admired greatly. Because the young man studied French, English, Italian, and some Latin in his high-school years, he was able to read many plays in their original languages. He read Hamlet (circa 1600-1601) in translation at first, in Spanish and French, but was able to read it in English at age sixteen. He also attended the performances of Echegaray’s plays, including his biggest success, El gran Galeoto (The Great Galeoto), produced in 1881, when Benavente was fifteen. He said in his memoirs (published in volume eleven of his Obras completas [Complete Works], 1942-1958) that he had always admired Echegaray, who later became unpopular with the young intellectuals of the early twentieth century because they considered him outdated.
Benavente’s father was concerned that his youngest son spent too much time and energy rehearsing and performing plays instead of studying, so he told him to stop these activities. Benavente was disappointed, since he wanted to be an actor. He confessed in his memoirs that acting was “toda la ilusión de mi vida” (the big dream of my life). He was so affected by his father’s decision that he became depressed, and he considered that moment the end of his childhood. His father, who wanted him to become an engineer, convinced him that he should attend college. He enrolled in the University of Madrid in 1882 but was not interested in academics. He often skipped class, was not a brilliant student, and switched from engineering to law after the first year because he disliked mathematics. When his father died in 1885, Benavente dropped out of college without hesitation and devoted himself to reading, writing, and traveling abroad between 1885 and 1892. His family’s position allowed him to enjoy a comfortable life and avoid the precarious bohemian lifestyle that characterized other writers of the late nineteenth century.
Benavente attended the tertulia literaria (literary gatherings, with poetry readings and informal book discussions) at the Café Iberia, where he met established writers such as the poet Gaspar Núñez de Arce. He later joined a circle of young intellectuals who were highly critical of the status quo. He spent most of his time writing comedies and poems at home and reading the classics: Homer, Aeschylus, Virgil, Dante, Miguel de Cervantes, Alfred de Musset, and Giacomo Leo-pardi. He also read the works of contemporary Spanish writers such as the novelists Benito Pérez Galdós and Juan Valera, and the poets Ramón de Campoamor and Núñez de Arce. One of Benavente’s older brothers, Mariano, encouraged him to continue writing.
Benavente had a close relationship with his mother, with whom he lived as an adult until her death in 1922. It appears that he never had a significant emotional relationship with anyone else. He prided himself on being a confirmed bachelor. Biographer Ángel Lázaro states that “Nadie le ha conocido novia en su juventud, y él niega que haya estacto enamorado jamáas” (No one knows of any sweetheart from his youth, and he denies that he has ever been in love). Lázaro goes on to assert that no one has ever been able to identify any woman as Benavente’s lover, and no actress ever bragged of being the object of his affections.
Critics such as Eduardo Galán have wondered about the fact that there is so little available information about the private life of such a famous writer. Even in his memoirs, Benavente mostly tells anecdotes of the people he knew and the city where he lived, and only talks in detail about his childhood. There have always been persistent but unconfirmed rumors, mostly in theatrical circles, about his alleged homosexuality. When he was told about rumors regarding “ciertas anomalías fisiológicas“(certain physiological anomalies), the writer simply shrugged; he also ignored malicious whisperings about his sexual orientation. Lázaro wonders if Benavente is “el hombre despreocupado que quiere asustar a los moralistas o el escéptico que se considera más allá del Bien y del Mal” (the carefree man who wants to scare moralists or the skeptic who considers himself beyond Good and Evil). Homosexuality was taboo in Spanish society at that time and, for a large part of the twentieth century, was penalized as a crime.
Traditionally, Benavente’s biographers have avoided the topic, for the most part, or addressed it in a rather indirect manner. Only late-twentieth-century studies approach the subject more openly, but they, with few exceptions, reach no definite conclusions. Since the late 1990s, there have been alternate readings of his work, uncovering homoerotic currents. Gérard Dufour was the first one to discuss the ambiguities in Leandro, one of the main characters in Benavente’s most famous play, Los intereses creados (1907, The Bonds of Interest). Others have perceived homoerotic undertones in the friendship between Leandro and Crispín in that play. Echoing the opinion of the critics Francisco Javier Diaz de Castro and Almudena del Olmo Iturriarte in a 1998 edition of Los intereses creactos, Javier Huerta Calvo and Emilio Peral Vega assert in a 2003 article that there are many references to homosexuality in Benavente’s life as well as in his plays. They state that Benavente’s short story from 1938, “Ganimedes” (included in Obras completas), a sensual retelling of the classic myth of Ganymede, the handsome ephebus who became Zeus’s lover, offers a hidden confession of his alleged tendencies.
Huerta Calvo and Peral Vega also find manifestations of “ideales heterodoxos en materias de amor” (heterodox ideals regarding love) in other works by Benavente, mostly in his early plays, published in the volume Teatro fantástico (1892, Fantasy Theater). They see these ideals at work particularly in Cuento de primavera (Spring Story), an unproduced work that seems to follow the spirit of Shakespeare’s comedies. Benavente was familiar with sixteenth- and seventeenth-century classic plays with cross-dressing roles from England and Spain, and they may have inspired him to portray characters of ambiguous sexual identity in his early works and beyond. In Cuento de primavera, one of the main characters is Ganimedes (Ganymede), a poet and page in the royal court who is described with androgynous characteristics but assumed to be male. After some ambiguous situations involving mistaken identities and cross-dressing, the ending of the play seems to reinforce traditional expecations about heterosexual attraction, but the plot twists are loaded with destabilizing ironies. Adding another layer to the ambiguities of the play, Ganimedes’s role is supposed to be played by an actress, as revealed in the prologue.
Teatro fantdstico was a compilation of unproduced short plays published in 1892 and again in 1905 in a revised, expanded edition. Besides Cuento de primavera, the 1892 edition also included three more plays: El encanto de una hora (The Magic of an Hour), Amor de artista (Artist’s Love), and Los favorites (The Favorites). The latter, based on Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing (circa 1598-1599), was produced in Seville in 1903. El encanto de una hora was produced in Madrid in 1905, shortly after the second edition was published. The other two plays from the first edition of Teatro fantástko have never been performed. All of them have one act only, except Cuento de primavera, which is a two-act comedy. The 1905 edition omitted Los favoritos and added two more one-act plays: Comedia italiana (Italian Comedy) and El criado de Don Juan (Don Juan’s Servant). In addition, it included a puppet play, La senda del amor (The Path of Love); the plot for a mime’s act, La blancura de Pierrot (The Whiteness of Pierrot); and a dialogue, Modernismo (Modernism). Of the new plays added in 1905, only El criacto de Don Juan was ever produced; it was performed in Madrid in 1911.
Most critics tend to consider El nido ajeno (Another’s Nest), produced in 1894, as the beginning of Benavente’s career as a dramatist, while dismissing or ignoring his early plays entirely. One of the few exceptions among the critics of his time was the Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío, who, in an article published in España Contemporánea, praised Teatro fantástko as an outstanding example of “la joven literatura” (the young literature) and even compared it to Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1611) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (circa 1595-1596). Huerta Calvo and Peral Vega have paid close attention to Benavente’s fantasy plays, which they consider highly innovative and an important part of modernist theater. They view Teatro fantdstko as the foundation of symbolist theater in Spain, which had an important influence on the most innovative Spanish playwrights of the twentieth century, such as Federico García Lorca and Ramón del Valle-Inclán. In their view, Benavente anticipates avant-garde trends later developed in Europe by such writers as Gordon Craig. This anticipation is especially apparent in El encanto de una hora, with its antirealistic premise and its explicit reaction against a mimetic imitation of ordinary life.
In 1893 Benavente expanded his literary output and published three books: a collection of sketches, Vilanos (The Down of the Thistle), reprinted in 1905; Versos (Verses); and a series of fictional letters, Cartas de mujeres (Women’s Letters), which became a commercial success and was also praised by critics; the second and third series followed in 1901 and 1902. His early poems from Versos have been consistently considered mediocre, even by the author himself. He never published another poetry book during his lifetime, although more than one hundred poems, found among his papers, appeared posthumously in the appendix to volume ten of Obras completas. Marcelino C. Peñuelas finds them similar to Benavente’s early Versos in their themes, tone, and quality.
Benavente’s first experiences with the stage were far more important for his future career as a respected writer than his early experiments in poetry, which he soon abandoned. In 1890 he finally realized his lifelong dream and joined the Maria Tubeau theater company as an actor. There he met La Bella Geraldine (Geraldine the Beautiful), a strikingly attractive English actress and circus artist who was popular with Madrid audiences. He later toured several provincial towns in Spain as an impresario of her show. His fascination for the circus world is reflected in the settings of several plays, such as La noche del sábacto (1903, Saturday Night), Los cachorros (1918, The Cubs), and La fuerza bruta (1919, Brute Force).
Benavente loved the backstage atmosphere. In an interview quoted by Lázaro, he confessed to a journalist that if he could not have been a playwright, he would have liked to have been a full-time actor, impresario, or stagehand. When he was a well-known playwright, he still enjoyed interpreting roles in his own plays; he liked to play Crispin’s role in Los intereses creados, for instance. Occasionally, he also played parts in productions of other authors’ plays, such as the leading role in a production of Zorrilla’s Don Juan Tenorio (1844), a famous drama that was performed annually in Spain in early November. In 1899 he performed a role in the premiere of Cenizas (Ashes), the first play produced by Valle-Inclán, who eventually replaced Benavente as the major figure in the canon of the early-twentieth-century theater in Spain.
In the late years of the nineteenth century, Benavente participated actively in the intellectual life of Madrid and joined the writers who were associated with the modernist movement and the so-called Generation of 1898. He collaborated on the modernist journal Helios and attended the tertulia literaria of Café de Madrid, along with well-known writers such as Dario, Valle-Inclan, Gregorio Martinez Sierra, and the novelist Pio Baroja and his brother, the painter Ricardo Baroja. Because of differences in personalities and styles, the tertulia split into two groups in the early twentieth century, and Benavente, his friends and admirers started their own tertulia in the Cervecería Inglesa (English Brewery), while Valle-Inclan and his followers chose to go to the Horchateria Candela. (Benavente and Valle-Inclan nevertheless remained friends.) At the turn of the century, Benavente also traveled to France and Italy and acquired more cosmopolitan views, which are reflected in his first successful plays, especially in La noche del sdbacto, which is set in a summer resort for the European elite.
While he was establishing himself in the intellectual scene, Benavente tried to convince a family friend, Emilio Mario, who was the respected impresario of Teatro de la Comedia (Comedy Theater) in Madrid, to perform one of his early plays. For six or seven years, Benavente brought Mario about a dozen plays until Mario finally accepted one of them, El nido ajeno. It premiered on 6 October 1894 and was performed by a well-established company of actors, including Carmen Cobeña and Emilio Thuiller. Despite the impeccable credentials of the impresario and the lead actors, Benavente’s first produced play was a resounding failure. It was poorly received by the public, and the majority of the critics wrote negative reviews. Most scholars attribute the failure of the play to the public’s rejection of the thesis behind the plot, which offers a moral justification for a hypothetical case of adultery that is never consummated. There were loud complaints against the alleged immorality of the play. After the three performances stipulated by law as the minimum at that time, it was replaced by another play.
In appearance, the plot may have reminded the public of late-nineteenth-century dramas, including those by the popular Echegaray; but there are key differences that anticipate characteristics that are more fully developed in Benavente’s later plays and that mark the advent of naturalist theater in Spain, as opposed to the post-Romantic melodramas to which the Spanish public had grown accustomed. Galán has pointed out the main innovative aspects of El nido ajeno: the use of prose instead of verse, the effective use of dialogue, the predominance of dramatic tension over action, the development of the characters’ psychological complexity, the lack of violence and outbursts of passion, and the realistic tone that prevails in the play. In addition to its formal innovations, El nido ajeno also takes a subversive approach to the classic topic developed for centuries in Spanish “dramas de honor” (dramas in which the hero’s loss of reputation results in crimes of passion to restore his honor). Benavente questions the conventions of the subgenre and denounces the oppressive situation of married women in Spanish society.
The public’s and critics’ adverse reactions to his first produced play undoubtedly affected young Benavente and forced him to be more cautious in his criticism of society’s values. From then on, his theater is a balancing act: his subsequent plays offered social satire as long as it could be tolerated by the middle-class audience that filled the theaters at the time. He was fully aware of the limits imposed by the expectations of the theatergoing public and by the structure of commercial theater, and he did not cross that invisible line. He offered a type of criticism that was easy to agree with and condemned the vices of contemporary society such as excessive ambition or greed. Over time, his theater showed a marked tendency toward moralizing that the author himself regretted.
Benavente combined his early theatrical activities with the practice of journalism. He wrote his first article for La Epoca in 1895. Over his long career he wrote hundreds of newspaper articles that were collected later in Obras completas (volumes seven, nine, and eleven). In 1898 he edited the satirical magazine Madrid Cómico (Funny Madrid), whose chief editor was the prestigious novelist and critic Clarín (Leopoldo Alas). At the turn of the century he also contributed to Germinal, Electra, Vida Nueva (New Life), Revista Nueva (New Magazine), Alma Espanola (Spanish Soul), La Ledura (The Reading), La llustración Española (The Spanish Enlightment), and El Arte del Teatro (The Art of Theater). He contributed a regular column, “Notas de un lector” (A Reader’s Notes), to the respected Revista Contemporánea (Contemporary Magazine). He eventually stopped this frantic pace, although he resumed his journalistic activities at the beginning of the twentieth century. He later confessed in an interview included in volume eleven of Obras completas that he was tired of meeting deadlines. In 1899 Benavente was the first editor of the journal Vida literaria (Literary Life), which was considered a platform for a new generation of writers. Benavente left his post the following year, stating that it distracted him from writing plays, a task that he never abandoned, despite the failure of his first play.
Two years after the disastrous and brief run of El nido ajeno, Benavente managed to convince the theater company of Cobeña and Thuiller to give him another chance with his comedy Gente conocida (People of Importance), which he had written before his first produced play. Gente conocida premiered in 1896, and the public liked the sharp, witty dialogue and the contemporary situations presented. It was his first success, to be followed by many more.
For his third produced play, performed in 1897, El marido de la Télkz (The Tellez Woman’s Husband), Benavente took advantage of a recent society event that was much talked about in Madrid: the marriage of leading lady María Guerrero, who had been the impresario of Teatro Espan̄ol (Spanish Theater) since 1895 and was actored by the Spanish public, and leading man Fernando Díaz Mendoza. The public enjoyed the exercise of decoding the possible parallels between the plot of the play and real life, and the comedy was successful. Guerrero later played the lead in many plays by Benavente. Her acting style was particularly well suited for the naturalistic tone that was the trademark of the author’s early plays, in contrast with the old-fashioned declamatory style that prevailed in the nineteenth century. One of the most famous roles of her illustrious acting career was as Raimunda, the protagonist of Benavente’s rural drama La malquerida (1913, The Passion Flower).
Critics agree that the talented Spanish actresses of the early twentieth century contributed greatly to the success of Benavente’s plays. Benavente himself said that actress and director Rosario Pino was the ideal interpreter of many of his plays. It is also true that many actresses became popular because of their leading roles in his plays. Pino, for instance, was remembered in particular for her role as the protagonist of Rosas de otoño (1905, Autumnal Roses). Besides Pino and Guerrero, who dominated the Spanish stages in the early years of the twentieth century, a new generation of actresses displayed their acting talent in Benavente’s plays in the 1920s and 1930s. Lola Membrives and Margarita Xirgu are among this distinguished group. Like Guerrero, they both directed their own theater companies and toured Spain and Latin America with other plays by Benavente in their repertoire, besides the ones that they premiered.
After Pino starred in El marido de la Téllez in 1897, Benavente’s presence on the Spanish stage was almost constant for the next fifty-seven years. Until his death in 1954, he produced at least two or three new plays a year, and often four or five. Sometimes as many as seven or eight of his plays were performed in a single year, not including reruns. As early as 1901, he had six new plays produced in the same year: four premiered in Madrid, one in Barcelona, and one in Saragossa. Some of the critics who had attacked him so harshly in his first attempts as a playwright praised him enthusiastically a few years later.
Benavente reached his creative peak and also achieved his status as the most visible author on the Spanish stage in the first decade of the twentieth century, a position consolidated at the beginning of the next decade with the spectacular success of La malque-rida in 1913. Several plays received uniform critical acclaim in the early 1900s. Among them, La noche del sábacto marked the definite recognition of Benavente as the leading Spanish playwright of his time. It is considered one of the highlights in his career, and the author held it in great esteem. Others also consider Rosas de otóo one of Benavente’s most memorable plays. He produced six other new plays and published four unproduced plays that same year. Another play that earned both popular success and the critics’ praise was Los malhechores del bien (1905, The Evildoers of Good), despite the fact that the play was perceived as anti-Catholic in some conservative circles because of its denunciation of religious hypocrisy.
In the early years of the twentieth century, Benavente also devoted himself to journalism, a common activity for Spanish intellectuals at the time. From 1906 to 1908 and from 1914 to 1916, he published weekly articles in “Los Lunes del Imparcial“(Mondays of The Impartial), the literary section of El Impartial, one of Madrid’s leading newspapers. In 1912 and 1913 he wrote regularly for the popular magazine Blanco y Negro (Black and White). His column was titled “Sobremesa” (After-Dinner Conversations). In addition, he contributed to ABC, a well-known conservative newspaper from Madrid, in a regular column called “La tercera” (The Third One).
In this period, Benavente managed to combine his active career in journalism with resounding and undisputed success on the Spanish stage. He wrote and produced his most aclaimed plays between 1907 and 1913: Los intereses creados, Sen̄ora ama (1908, A Lady), and La malquerida. The first one, considered his masterpiece, remained popular through the entire twentieth century, as attested by the number of performances and editions of the play and the ample corpus of critical studies devoted to it. The other two, considered the best of his rural dramas, also achieved enduring success and have attracted considerable critical attention.
Los intereses creactos, subtitled “comedia de polichinelas” (puppet show), premiered in Teatro Lara in Madrid on 9 December 1907. The setting is an imaginary country at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Some of the characters are inspired in the tradition of the Italian commedia dell’arte, as stated in the prologue. The main characters and the plot are inspired by the tradition of Spanish classic literature. Crispin, the central character, recalls the figure of the picaro, the antihero in a subversive subgenre of the Spanish Golden Age novel. The archetypical friendship of the idealistic Leandro and the commonsensical Crispin also evokes that of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza and the relationship of masters and servants as represented in seventeenth-century Spanish theater. Leandro is a penniless youth who falls in love with beautiful Silvia, who also loves him, but her rich father, Polichinela, opposes the marriage. Crispin, a consummate trickster, poses as Leandro’s servant and convinces everyone in town that Leandro is an important gentleman on a secret mission. Both of them are actually drifters who are fleeing from the law. When the truth is exposed and they are brought to trial by those they cheated, Crispin shows the other characters that it is in their best interest to drop all the charges and allow the wedding of Leandro and Silvia, so that Leandro can repay his debts. The father is forced by the others to accept the marriage, since the arrangement benefits everyone else. Thus, the story has a happy ending, proving Crispin’s cynical point that “mejor que crear afectos es crear intereses” (it is better to create bonds of interest rather than bonds of love). Like a skilled puppeteer, Crispin masterfully manipulates all the threads of the plot. In the play, his determination to take advantage of others’ foolishness, based on his knowledge of human nature, is far more convincing and engaging than Leandro’s groundless idealistic attitude. At the end, although it may seem that love conquers all, the moral lesson conveys a deep skepticism and a pessimistic view of humankind.
Los intereses creactos has received uniform praise, even by those critics who generally dislike Benavente’s plays. Francisco Ruiz Ramón, one of the most influential historians of contemporary Spanish drama, considers Los intereses creactos one of the masterpieces of twentieth-century Spanish theater. It is one of the few plays by Benavente that is still staged in Spain, and it has gone through many editions. The public and critics of the time reacted with enthusiasm when it was premiered, and theater scholars have always praised it highly. The Spanish Royal Academy awarded the Premio Piquer (Piquer Award) to this play in 1912. In a 1930 poll, fifty thousand people chose it as the best comedy by Benavente. In “Orientaciones para el montaje” (Suggestions for Staging the Play), included in the 1998 edition of Los intereses creactos. La ciudad alegre y confiada, the playwright José Luis Alonso de Santos has placed Los intereses creactos among the most important and significant Spanish plays of all time. Its sequel, La ciudad alegrey confiada (The Happy and Confident City), which premiered in 1916, is a lesser play that provoked scandal and achieved momentary success because of the political circumstances. Critics considered it a justification of Benavente’s support of Germany in World War I, an uncommon position among Spanish intellectuals that earned the author many enemies and the scorn of fellow writers.
In February 1908, just two months after the triumphant premiere of Los intereses creactos, Benavente temporarily set aside his trademark urban comedies to produce his first drama in a rural setting, Señora ama. By then he was the most sought-after playwright in Spain. He was still in his early forties and had already produced more than fifty plays. Señora ama was a striking departure from the cynical world of his “puppet show”. The inspiration for the story and the main characters came to the author in one of his stays in Aldeancabo, a small village near Toledo, in Castile. In the early part of the twentieth century, he used to rest in his country house there and visit his godchild, Rosario, a little girl who lived in the village. There he met a woman who condoned the behavior of her notoriously philandering husband and even seemed to take pride in it. Benavente modeled Dominica, the protagonist of Senora ama, after her. In the play, the childless Dominica is proud of the attraction that her unfaithful husband, Feliciano, exerts over other women, and even concerns herself with the welfare of his former lovers and the illegitimate children that he has had with them. Once she discovers that she is pregnant, however, Dominica changes her attitude completely; she becomes consumed by jealousy and decides she will not tolerate her husband’s infidelity anymore. Her sudden transformation almost leads to a tragedy when she suspects Feliciano may be having an affair with his brother’s wife. Finally, the misunderstanding is cleared up, and Feliciano rejoices at the news that Dominica will give him a legitimate heir.
Most critics have praised Señora ama and tend to place it at the level of La malquerida, Benavente’s best-known drama; the author himself said that it was his favorite among all the plays he wrote. Peñuelas, however, considers it “mediocre” and “second rate” because of the lack of dramatic action and the relative weakness of the main character. Benavente avoids the tragic ending that would have been the logical development of the conflict. Virtudes Serrano, by contrast, sets out to prove in her introduction to a 2002 edition of the play that Dominica is a great character and that there is true dramatic conflict in the play.
In 1909, one year after the premiere of Señora ama, Benavente founded the Teatro para Niños (Theater for Children) with the impresario Fernando Porredón. With this project he intended to promote quality plays for children, performed in the Teatro Príncipe Alfonso in Madrid. He wrote sketches for puppet shows, and in some cases he was also the puppeteer. He also wrote plays for this project such as Ganarse la vida (1909, Earning a Living). The best known of his children’s plays is El príncipe que todo lo aprendió en los libros (The Prince Who Learned Everything from Books), which premiered in 1909. As part of the project, he produced plays written by Modernist playwrights such as Santiago Rusin̄ol, Eduardo Marquina, Martinez Sierra, and even Valle-Inclan, who contributed Farsa infantil de la cabeza del dragon (Children’s Farce of the Dragon’s Head) in 1910. This play was the last one performed for the Teatro para Niiios. Benavente was enthusiastic about the project but soon encountered difficulties; he did not have all the necessary resources, and the public did not respond with much interest. He abandoned Teatro para Niiios in 1910 but continued writing children’s plays on occasion. In 1919 he wrote two children’s plays: La cenicienta (Cinderella) and Y va de cuento (And Once Upon a Time). Years later, in 1934, he premiered La novia de nieve (The Snow Bride), his last experiment in that genre. For Linda S. Glaze, these three plays are “outstanding examples of the modern comedia de magia” or magic play, a subgenre that originated in the early eighteenth century and survived until the early twentieth century.
Benavente’s interest in the renovation of the Spanish stage and the education of the public was not limited to his efforts to promote children’s theater. As early as 1899, while he was building his reputation as a successful playwright, he was involved in another project, Teatro Artístico (Artistic Theater). It was an attempt to bring to the Spanish public alternative plays, productions different from those usually seen in the commercial theaters. He directed the plays and occasionally played roles in them, as he did in Valle-Inclán’s Cenizas. He premiered one of his own plays, Despedida cruel (Cruel Farewell), in Teatro Lara for the first performance of Teatro Artistíco in 1899. Subsequent productions included plays by classic and contemporary authors, such as Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew (1594) and joaquín Dicenta’s Juan José (1895).
Benavente’s contributions to Spanish theater were awarded not only with immense popularity in his lifetime but also with public recognition and official honors. In 1912 he was elected to the Real Academia Española, or RAE (Spanish Royal Academy), to replace the respected scholar Marcelino Menéndez Pelayo, who had died.
In 1920, Benavente was named director of Teatro Español (the Spanish National Theater). In 1922, ten years after his nomination to the RAE, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature, becoming the second Spaniard to receive the honor. Benavente’s reputation was enhanced among the public, but not necessarily among the critics. The hostile atmosphere against him among Spanish intellectuals and the negative criticism spurred by Perez de Ayala’s reviews did not disappear after Benavente received the Nobel Prize. Perez de Ayala, however, did decide to participate in an homage to Benavente in the mid 1930s.
Benavente could not attend the Nobel award ceremony because he was in Argentina at that time participating in a theatrical tour with Membrives’s company, an opportunity he had welcomed in order to cope with his grief over his mother’s death earlier that year. It was his second trip to South America; he had gone with Guerrero’s company to Argentina in 1906. After he was awarded the Nobel Prize, he visited Mexico, Cuba, and the United States, receiving more honors along the way. He was named an honorary citizen of New York City, for instance. It was really a victory tour for the author, who was then in the zenith of his career. Upon his return to Spain, he received the Great Cross of Alfonso el Sabio (King Alfonso the Wise), and the City Council of Madrid named him Favorite Son of the city in 1924.
Benavente’s third and last transatlantic tour took place under different circumstances, more than twenty years later, in 1945, when he was in his late seventies. That year, he went to Argentina and premiered his last rural drama, La infanzona (The Noble Woman), in Buenos Aires. At that time, Argentina’s capital was an important center for Spanish theater and also had a large community of Spanish refugees. Several famous actresses who had played leads in Benavente’s plays, such as Membrives, Xirgu, and Catalina Barcena, went to South America as exiles after the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s. Benavente, however, chose to stay in Spain.
In 1947 Benavente resumed his contributions to Madrid’s conservative newspaper ABC. In one of his first articles in this stage of his journalistic career, “Al dictado” (Taking Dictation), he defended Marshal Phillipe Petain, the disgraced French military leader who had been imprisoned for treason in 1945 for cooperating with the Vichy government during World War II. The article had a considerable impact in Spain, then ruled by General Francisco Franco. In 1948 Benavente won the coveted Mariano de Cavia Prize in journalism for “Al dictacto.” Both the article and the award may have been politically motivated, considering that by the end of the Spanish Civil War, Benavente had moved from his defense of the loyalist cause in favor of the Spanish Republic to an apology for Franco’s government, a former ally of the Axis powers.
Benavente’s attempts to ingratiate himself with the Franco regime were nevertheless deemed insincere. Because of his reputation as a liberal and his initial endorsement of the Spanish Republic, he was blacklisted by Franco’s government in the 1940s. His name could not appear in the Spanish press, which was controlled by rigid government censors. Instead, he had to be referred to in theatrical reviews as “the author of La malquerida.” Even the ads and the playbills for his plays could not use his name.
Despite the problems with censorship, Benavente’s plays were not banned, and the Spanish public continued to hold him in high esteem. When he died in Madrid on 14 July 1954, at age eighty-seven, he was still active on the Spanish stage. Two of his new plays were produced that year, and another one premiered posthumously in the same year. Ten years earlier, in 1944, tributes to Benavente had taken place in Spanish cities to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the premiere of El nido ajeno, and there were reruns of his most famous plays. Many intellectuals, however, had distanced themselves from him because of his defense of the German cause during World War I in his controversial play La ciudad alegre y conftada in 1916. Moreover, his apology for Franco’s regime in lesser plays such as Aves y pájaros (1940, Birds and Fowl) or Abuelo y nkto (1941, Grandfather and Grandson) and in several newspaper articles did little to reconcile him with his peers. Even after his death, ideological biases have often tainted the appreciation of Jacinto Benavente’s contributions to Spanish theater for half a century.
Ángel Lázaro, Vida y obra de Benavente (Madrid: A. Aguado, 1964).
Gérald G. Brown, Historia de la literatura española. El siglo XX, ninth edition (Barcelona: Ariel, 1981), pp. 176-182;
Gérard Dufour, “Note sur le personnage de Leandro dans Los intereses creactos de Jacinto Benavente,” Cahier d’Etudes Romanes, 7 (1982): 85-92;
Eduardo Galán, ’Jacinto Benavente y el drama burgués,” in Galán and others, Teatro y pensamiento en la regeneracion del 98 (Madrid: Fundacion Pro-RESAD, 1998), pp. 149-206;
Linda S. Glaze, “The Tradition of the Comedia de Magia in Jacinto Benavente’s Theater for Children,” Hispania, 76, no. 2 (1993): 213-223;
Javier Huerta Calvo and Emilio Peral Vega, “Benavente y otros autores,” in Historia del teatro espanol. Del sigh XVIII a la época actual, volume 2, edited by Fernando Doménech Rico and Peral Vega (Madrid: Gredos, 2003), pp. 2272-2310;
Ana Mariscal, Cincuenta años de teatro en Madrid (Madrid: El Avapiés, 1984);
Carmen Menéndez Onrubia, “Don̄a María la Brava,” in Autoras y adrices en la historia del teatro español, edited by Luciano García Lorenzo (Murcia: Uni-versidad de Murcia, 2000), pp. 155-177;
César Oliva, Teatro español del sigh XX (Madrid: Síntesis, 2004), pp. 33-37;
Marcelino C. Peñuelas, Jacinto Benavente (New York: Twayne, 1968);
Francisco Ruiz Ramon, Historia del teatro espanol sigh XX, fourth edition (Madrid: Catedra, 1980), pp. 21-38.