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Martinez Sierra, Gregorio 1881-1947

Martinez Sierra, Gregorio 1881-1947

PERSONAL:

Born May 6, 1881, in Madrid, Spain; died of cancer, October 1, 1947, in Madrid, Spain; married María de la O'LeJárraga (a writer), 1900.

CAREER:

Theater producer, editor, critic, and author; editor of periodicals in Madrid, Spain; Eslava Theater, Madrid, Spain, director, 1917-28. Founder and director of Compania Lirico Dramatica; operator of Renacimiento (publishing house).

WRITINGS:


El poema del trabajo, E. Sánchez (Mexico), 1899.

Flores de escarcha (poems), 1900.

La casa de la primavera (poems), 1907.

(Translator) Alphonse Daudet, El hermano, Poveda (Madrid, Spain), 1918.

(Translator) William Shakespeare, Romeo y Julieta, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1918.

(Translator) William Shakespeare, La tragedia de Hamlet, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1918.

(Translator) Alexandre Dumas, La dama de las camelias, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1918.

Un teatro de arte en España (nonfiction), 1926.

WITH WIFE, MARIA MARTINEZ SIERRA; ALL UNDER HIS NAME


Diálogos fantástícos (prose poems), 1899.

Sol de la tarde (short stories), 1904, 2nd edition, Renacimiento (Madrid, Spain), 1911.

Teatro de ensueño (dialogues), 1905, reprinted, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1926.

Motivos, Garnier Hermanos (Paris, France), 1906.

La humilde verdad (novella), 2nd edition, Renacimiento (Madrid, Spain), 1915.

El diablo se ríe (novellas), Renacimiento (Madrid, Spain), 1916.

La vida inquieta. glosario espiritual, 2nd edition, Renacimiento (Madrid, Spain), 1917.

Cartas a las mujeres de España, 2nd edition, Renacimiento (Madrid, Spain), 1918.

Pascua florida, P. Salvat (Barcelona, Spain), 1919.

Tú eres la paz (novella), 1906, reprinted, Renacimiento (Madrid, Spain), 1918, translated as Ana María, R.G. Badger (Boston, MA), 1921.

El peregrino ilusiondado, illustrated by Laura Albeniz, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1921.

Feminismo, femindidad, españolismo (essays), 1920.

La feria de Neuilly, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1920.

Obras completas (complete works), fourteen volumes, 1920-30.

Nuevas cartas a las mujeres, Renacimiento (Madrid, Spain), 1932.

Cartas a las mujeres de América (essays), 1941.

(Author of libretto) José María Usandizaga, Las golondrinas: ópera en tres actos, Instituto Complutense de Ciencias Musicales (Madrid, Spain), 1999.

(Author of libretto) Joaguín Turina, Margot: comedia lírica en dos actos, Instituto Complutense de Ciencias Musicales (Madrid, Spain), 2001.

PLAYS; WITH WIFE, MARIA MARTINEZ SIERRA; ALL UNDER HIS NAME


(With Santiago Rusinol y Prats) Vida y dulzura (also see below), 1907.

El amor catedrático, 1907, reprinted, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1926.

La sombra del padre (also see below), 1909.

El ama de la casa (also see below), 1910, reprinted, B.H. Sanborn (New York, NY), 1926.

Canción de cuna: comedia en dos actos y en prosa, R. Velasco (Madrid, Spain), 1911, translated as The Cradle Song (also see below), 1917, translated by John Garrett Underhill as The Cradle Song, Comedy in Two Acts with an Interlude in Verse, Samuel French (New York, NY), 1934.

Lirio entre espinas, 1911, translated as A Lily among Thorns, 1930.

Primavera en otoño, 1911, translated as Spring in Autumn, 1933.

Mamá: comedia en tres actos (also see below), Renacimiento (Madrid, Spain), 1912.

Madrigal (also see below), 1913.

Madame Pepita (also see below), 1913.

Los pastores; comedia en dos actos, original de Gregorio Martínez Sierra, R. Velasco (Madrid, Spain), 1913, translated as The Two Shepherds (also see below).

La mujer del héroe; sainete en dos actos, el segundo dividido en dos cuadros (also see below), R. Velasco (Madrid, Spain), 1914, translated as Wife to a Famous Man (also see below).

El palacio triste (also see below), Renacimiento (Madrid, Spain), 1914.

El amor brujo, music by Manuel de Falla, 1915.

La pasión; comedia en dos actos y en prosa, R. Velasco (Madrid, Spain), 1915.

Amanecer (three-act), R. Velasco (Madrid, Spain), 1915.

El reino de Dios, 1915, reprinted, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1922, translated as The Kingdom of God (also see below).

El sombrero de tres picos, music by Manuel de Falla, 1916.

Esperanza nuestra, 1917.

La adúltera penitente; adaptación libre de la comedia del título original de Moreto, Cáncer, y Matos, Renacimiento (Madrid, Spain), 1917.

Sueño de una noche de agosto; novela cómica en tres partes, Renacimiento (Madrid, Spain), 1918, translated as The Romantic Young Lady (also see below).

Rosina es frágil, comedia en un acto, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1918.

No hay burlas con el amor. La noche veneciana, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1918.

La felicidad de Antonieta: comedia en tres actos, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1919.

Mamá, Madrigal, El pobrecito Juan, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1920.

La mujer moderna, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1920.

Don Juan de España, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1921.

Kodak romantico, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1921.

La selva muda, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1921.

The Cradle Song and Other Plays, translated by John Garrett Underhill, E.P. Dutton (New York, NY), 1922.

The Kingdom of God and Other Plays (contains The Two Shepherds, Wife to a Famous Man, The Kingdom of God, and The Romantic Young Lady), translated by Helen Granville-Barker, E.P. Dutton (New York, NY), 1922.

El corazón ciego, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1922.

The Plays of Gregorio Martínez Sierra, two volumes, translated by John Garrett Underhill, essay by H. Granville Barker, E.P. Dutton (New York, NY), 1923.

Para hacerse amar locamente, Margot, El palacio triste, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1923.

Madame Pepita, La mujer del héroe, La suerte de Isabelita, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1923.

Mujer, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1925.

El hombre que guiere comer, comedia en tres actos, L. Rubio (Madrid, Spain), 1925.

Aventura, Todo es uno y lo mismo, Cada uno y su vida, Rosas mustias, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1926.

Vida y dulzura. La sombra del padre. El ama de la casa, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1926.

Holy Night: A Miracle Play in Three Scenes, translated by Philip Hereford, engravings by Gabriel Pippet, E.P. Dutton (New York, NY), 1928.

Horas del sol, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1930.

Seamos felices, Torre de marfil, comedias, Renacimiento (Madrid, Spain), 1930.

Three One-Act Plays: La suerte de Isabelita. Rosina es frágil. Cada uno y su vida, Holt (New York, NY), 1930.

Triangulo [y] La hora del diablo, Renacimiento (Madrid, Spain), 1930.

Triángulo, 1930, translated as Take Two from One: A Farce in Three Acts, Sidgwick & Jackson (London, England), 1931.

El amor y la muerta, Estrella (Madrid, Spain), 1933.

SIDELIGHTS:

Gregorio Martínez Sierra and his wife, María, were Spanish writers who had an unusual literary partnership. They began to write together in 1897, when Gregorio was only sixteen and María was twenty-three. The couple got married three years after the start of their collaboration. Many scholars today believe that it was María who did the bulk of the creative writing, while Gregorio's contribution lay mostly in his editing. However, at María's insistence, everything she wrote, either with Gregorio or without, was published under her husband's name so that it is now nearly impossible to decipher exactly how much credit should be given to either party.

Although both Gregorio and María wrote poetry, stories, and essays, as well as translating several literary works, they are best remembered for their dramas. Their Teatro de ensueño was an early attempt that was not intended to be performed. Instead, this work is a collection of dialogues that are full of symbolism and fantastic imagery.

A number of the couple's plays focus on strong, independent female characters and communicate a belief in equal rights for women, which is one reason literary critics attribute them to María's hand. However, Gregorio's contemporaries, who did not understand his wife's role in the creative process, consequently criticized the works for lacking a masculine perspective. The couple's works also have a strong moral tone, promoting conservative Christian values despite the plays' forward-looking views on women. These values put limits on the type of lifestyle the female characters can enjoy, a trait that is exemplified in the play Mamá: comedia en tres actos. A reaction to Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, Mamá reveals the Martínez Sierras' belief that while women deserve equality, they should not go so far as to abandon their families in search of their own individuality. Instead, women should share equal relationships with their spouses within the confines of the roles of wife and mother.

One of the Martínez Sierras' most famous works is Canción de cuna: comedia en dos actos y en prosa, which was translated as The Cradle Song. In this play, a baby is abandoned on the steps of a convent. The repressed motherly instincts of the nuns who find her come alive as they take in and raise the child. However, by the end of the play, the child has grown up and reached the stage when it is time for her to go out into the world. She leaves the convent and marries. Explaining the themes of this drama in his introduction to Contemporary Spanish Dramatists, Charles Alfred Turrell wrote: "It is semi-romantic, but with many realistic touches, and the appeal is a universal one. The thesis of mother-love versus the convent life is real to the Spaniard, and Martínez Sierra shows the unrest that must arise from the crushing of the greatest longing of the woman-heart—motherhood."

The plays Amanecer and Sueño de una noche de agosto depict a husband and wife collaborating professionally. Many of Gregorio and María's writings promote the idea that women should work and shoulder part of the responsibility of financially supporting the family. In these plays in particular the Martínez Sierras hold up a collaborative professional relationship like the one they enjoyed as the ideal. In addition to exploring the role of professional women, Amanecer deals with socialist ideals. This comedy depicts a family suffering from poverty when the father abandons them after his business failure. A portrait of a determined young woman, the play is an example of the authors' penchant for creating strong female characters.

Many of the couple's works have been translated into English, including in the collection The Kingdom of God and Other Plays. The title play here follows the spiritual development of a woman over sixty years. In the beginning, she becomes a nun; then, to satisfy her motherly instincts, she devotes her time to a maternity home and then an orphanage. Reviewing the work in Nation and Athenaeum, critic Francis Birrell asserted: "The play is, perhaps, almost too ‘beautiful.’ Still you go away feeling that Sierra is worth all the boulevardiers put together, so far does a little sensibility throw its beams into this naughty world."

During the early 1930s, the couple went their separate ways. María remained in Spain to work for the Socialists, while Gregorio moved to Hollywood to write screenplays. Later, the marriage ended when he became involved with Catalina Barcena, an actress who had toured with his Compania Lirico Dramatica. After his death from cancer in 1947, María continued to write short stories and essays for many years.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:


BOOKS


Boyd, Ernest, Studies from Ten Literatures, Scribner (New York, NY), 1925, pp. 114-119.

Contemporary Spanish Dramatists, translated by Charles Alfred Turrell, Gorham Press, 1919, pp. 7-22.

Corrigan, Robert W., Masterpieces of the Modern Spanish Theatre, Macmillan/Collier Books, 1967, pp. 275-350.

O'Connor, Patricia Walker, Women in the Theater of Gregorio Martínez Sierra, American Press, 1966.

O'Connor, Patricia Walker, Gregorio and María Martínez Sierra, Twayne (Boston, MA), 1977.

Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Volume 6, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1982, pp. 272-288.

Warren, L.A., Modern Spanish Literature: A Comprehensive Survey of the Novelists, Poets, Dramatists and Essayists from the Eighteenth Century to the Present Day, Volume 2, Brentano's, 1929, pp. 577-584.

Young, Stark, Immortal Shadows: A Book of Dramatic Criticism, Scribner (New York, NY), 1948, pp. 101-105.

PERIODICALS


Contemporary Review, February, 1924, Walter Starkie, "Gregorio Martínez Sierra and the Modern Spanish Drama," pp. 198-205.

Hispania, November, 1922, Frances Douglas, "Gregorio Martínez Sierra: I. Stylist and Romantic Interpreter," pp. 257-268; February, 1923, Frances Douglas, "Gregorio Martínez Sierra: II. Stylist and Romantic Interpreter," pp. 1-13.

Nation and Athenaeum, November 5, 1927, Francis Birrell, review of The Kingdom of God and Other Plays.

New Statesman and Nation, July 30, 1932, Desmond MacCarthy, "Three Modern Spanish Dramatists," pp. 129-130.

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