The Colgate Scene
May 1999
Table of contents

  Ocho poemas satíricos de Quevedo
Pamplona: Ediciones Universidad de Navarra, 1997

La primer flor del Carmelo
By Pedro Calderón de la Barca, Kassel-Pamplona: Edition Reichenberger-Universidad de Navarra, 1998.

Edited by Assistant Professor of Spanish Fernando Plata Parga

by Robert L. Hathaway

To declare that the Ocho poemas satíricos by Francisco de Quevedo (1580-1645) require a major interpretive effort due to the complicated network of allusions and ambiguities upon which it is constructed, which makes difficult its literal understanding and necessary its study and annotation (19), understates the case. This is a specialist's book, to be sure; its erudition is extensive (not to say mindboggling) and its detective work begs Watsonian chronicling. Seven poems are minutely studied here for the first time; the transmissions of all in their variants are traced from inception to the present critical edition.

Be forewarned: given Quevedo's insistent relishing of the satirical-burlesque, his themes and concepts are not for the fastidious or fainthearted, for his is a world in which human failings are derided; glory is sexually, not divinely climactic; and woman, when not parlously reified, can be implacably reviled. The opacity one encounters at first blush soon yields to Plata's rigorous elucidations, however, and the assiduous reader will be rewarded with much wit, however acerbic.

La primer flor del Carmelo is an auto sacramental by Calderon (1600-1684), the master of this dramatic subgenre in celebration of the Eucharist. Performed on Corpus Christi, such plays featured stage machinery to impress the audience with remarkable physical representations coordinated with allegorical expositions couched primarily in popular metrical forms.

Borrowing from 1 Samuel 25, in 1565 lines Calderón portrays David and Abigail, wife to churlish Nabal of Maon, as, respectively, Christ, Mary, and the World denied redemption in its ignorance; they are variously beset by Avarice and Lasciviousness at the behest of Luzbel, or abetted by Generosity and Chastity. Nabal's intransigence in denial of God's charity incarnate in Abigail/Mary is powerfully dramatic, but the text, though didactic, does not lack humor, for the shepherd Simplicio has his comic moments and a Sanchopanzesque peasant shrewdness.

This is the 22nd in the complete series of 75 autos being prepared by an international team laboring to provide the most exhaustive and authoritative critical editions; thus, Plata cites patristic and contemporary religious and secular texts and cross-references themes and topics as he magisterially lays bare Calderón's conceptual artistry in another display of his exemplary scholarship.

Robert L. Hathaway is the Drake Professor of the Humanities, Emeritus
Crazy for Rivers
By Bill Barich '65, The Lyons Press, New York, 1999. 90 pp.

In a slim and handsome book, Bill Barich recounts his journey as a fisherman, from contemptuous teen to smitten novice to a grateful middle ager perilously close to enlightenment.

It would be misleading to call Crazy for Rivers an adventure story, but only slightly. Barich leads us through what is essentially a rite of passage, complete with missteps (sheer canyon walls and submerged Mustangs only make the quest for trout more fascinating) and wonderful images of wild western rivers.

It is a lyrical passage, too, without being precious. Barich conveys the feel of the land, the concert of nature stirred by the seasons and its inhabitants. He is also a magnet for characters -- beaten cowboys, love's refugees and wily old flycasters.

Vicarious life is good with Bill Barich. He is laid back, insightful and funny. His musing is steadfastly interesting and he writes beautiful prose. Barich on his first experiment with fishing during the blissed out days of San Francisco: "One afternoon, I woke before my girlfriend and stood looking at the river, so low and clear I could count the pebbles of the streambed. Trout in there? I doubted it, but I rigged up the rod for fun, rolled up my jeans, and waded barefooted into the water. I could see the sun glinting off the spoon I'd bought at the resort's store and could hear some Steller's jays bickering in the tall trees, and I drifted so far away from Stuart Fork that when a fish hit my lure, it had the effect of yanking me out of the clouds and back into my body.

"High up leaped a silvery little rainbow, as hooked in the moment as I was."

Crazy for Rivers is contagious. JH

CD by the Colgate Resolutions, 1998

The Resolutions, Colgate's male and female a cappella group, have recorded 15 tracks, ranging from modern rock to jazz to oldies. There's Paula Cole's "I Don't Want to Wait," the Eric Clapton hit, "Change the World," and the Eagles' "Seven Bridges Road." There is also a "Colgate Medley."

On only their second CD, the Resolutions have incorporated more complex arrangements and introduced different styles while maintaining their energy and humor.

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