Religion in the Age of Enlightenment


Enlightenment, autos sacramentales, Pedro Calderon


The first published collection of Pedro Calderon de la Barca's autos sacramentales(sacred dramas) dates from 1677, during Calderon's lifetime (1600-1681), and includes an explanation of the works penned by this great Spanish dramaturge. In his preface, recognizing that readers may be annoyed at similarities in the printed repertoire of more than seventy autos, Calderon justifies the collection: "The autos were performed but once [sic] a year, and this volume contains works which were produced at intervals over a period of more than twenty years. They were not written to be printed together and read one after another:" Calderon also cautions against their transcription, asking readers to creatively imagine the whole art of the staged production. He writes, "Paper cannot give justice to the whole work, not the sound of the music, nor the apparatus of the machinery." Calderon's preface implores us to imaginatively recreate the full experience of the autos. The works are not static words on pages; they are dynamic performances happening in real time that engage all our senses to achieve heightened devotion.