Ruiz de Alarcón y Mendoza, Juan (1581?–1639)

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Ruiz de Alarcón y Mendoza, Juan (1581?–1639)

Juan Ruiz de Alarcón y Mendoza (b. 1581?; d. 4 August 1639), one of the four great dramatists of the Spanish Golden Age, which reached its peak in the first half of the seventeenth century. Born in Mexico City to an illustrious family, Ruiz de Alarcón studied canon and civil law at the Royal Pontifical University of Mexico (1596–1600) and at the University of Salamanca in Spain (1600–1605). As a lawyer, Alarcón served as assistant to the corregidor (mayor) in Mexico City and advisor to the city council. He litigated at the royal court in Madrid and the Audiencia of Mexico, sought and obtained public offices, was financial adviser to those in debt, and in 1610 investigating judge in Veracruz, Mexico. He crossed the Atlantic three times, but he lived most of his life in Spain. He died in Madrid.

Alarcón wrote drama mainly for his own enjoyment, but it was lucrative. Las paredes oyen was first performed in 1617. Envious of the success of his plays, his rivals ridiculed him for his physical deformity as a hunchback with bow legs. The Spanish critic Mendéndez y Pelayo described Alarcón as the classic dramatist of a romantic theater. His plays are humorous, subdued, and clever and illustrate moral truths. La verdad sospechosa (1619) condemns lying, Las paredes oyen (1617) illustrates the evils of slander, and Mudarse para mejorarse (1622) deals with inconstancy in love. Alarcón wrote twenty-four plays published under Parte primera de las comedias de don Juan Ruiz de Alarcón y Mendoza (1628) and Parte segunda de las comedias del Licenciado Don Juan Ruiz de Alarcón (1634). La prueba de las promesas is considered by many to be Alarcón's masterpiece, along with Las paredes oyen and La verdad sospechosa. Alarcón's plays influenced Corneille, Molière, and Goldoni.

See alsoTheater .


Agustín Millares Carlo, ed., Obras completas de Don Juan Ruiz de Alarcón, 3 vols. (1957).

Walter Poesse, Juan Ruiz de Alarcón (1972).

Margarita Peña, Juan Ruiz de Alarcón, semejante asi mismo (1992).

Cynthia Leone Halpern, The Political Theatre of Seventeenth-Century Spain, with Special Reference to Juan Ruiz de Alarcón (1993).

Additional Bibliography

Josa, Lola. El arte dramático de Juan Ruiz de Alarcón. Kassel: Edition Reichenberger, 2002.

Revueltas, Eugenia. El discurso de Juan Ruiz de Alarcón: Texto y representación. Zamora: Colegio de Michoacán, 1999.

Whicker, Jules. The Plays of Juan Ruiz de Alarcón. Rochester, U.K.: Tamesis, 2003.

                              Georgette Magassy Dorn

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Ruiz de Alarcón y Mendoza, Juan (1581?–1639)

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