Secrets and mysteries in the tragic shift in el caballero de Olmedo
The fascination aroused by El caballero de Olmedo is due in part to the power of attraction of the secrets it contains. Some of them are easy to penetrate, others difficult, particularly for a modern public less aware of the «public secrets» (Taussig) of seventeenth century culture. Is the distance that separates Olmedo and Medina only a physical distance don Alonso has to traverse, or does it imply socio-cultural and political distance, ethnoreligious difference, questions of wealth, class and political weight? Yet more intriguing are the supernatural mysteries that besiege Alonso. The structure of the drama is another mystery. In the middle of this «comi-tragedia» (Ruano), there is a political interlude (Fothergill-Payne) in which the king discusses habits for Calatrava and Alcántara, giving Alonso a habit, and of the attire Jews and Moors should wear to distinguish them from old Christians. Is this a way of evoking a «public secret» that traps those not aware of it? These are the questions I consider in this article.
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