Habemus new comedy by Lope de Vega. Researchers from the universities of Valladolid and Vienna have discovered in the collection of theatrical manuscripts of the National Library of Spain a work of his entitled ‘La francesa Laura’, written five or six years before his death.
As reported on Tuesday by the BNEthe discovery was made possible thanks to their collaboration with the ETSO project: Stylometry applied to the Golden Age Theater, directed by Álvaro Cuéllar and Germán Vega, the researchers responsible for the discovery, and which has up to 150 collaborators dedicated to the application of computer analysis to the theatrical literature of the Golden Age to unravel its authorship problems.
“The Artificial intelligence It has revealed itself as a great ally for the historical-philological discipline, an aid for solving problems and for optimizing time and processes, with an unprecedented processing power, which has managed to discover a needle in a haystack: a new comedy written by Lope de Vega from among thousands of printed and handwritten documents”, according to the BNE.
A new genuine comedy from the playwright in which a glimpse of the political context in which it was written thanks to the presence and “flattering” treatment of the French, which the title already highlights, and which seems to indicate that it was composed in the short period in which the crown of the neighboring country allied with the Spanish against the English in the late twenties.
‘The French Laura’
The plot takes place in France and revolves around Laura, daughter of the Duke of Brittany and married to Count Arnaldo. The Dauphin, heir to the French throne, falls in love with her and sets out to woo her at any cost. But the protagonist resists the prince’s attacks and the suspicions of her husband who, in a fit of jealousy and fear of public dishonor, even tries to end the life of her wife with a powerful poison.
Finally, Laura’s integrity is proven and happiness is restored to the couple. In addition, the work presents at its start a decided defense of women, from which these verses can be extracted: “Besides, women have so many feats left over that they cause men to envy in arms and letters.” Lope’s “delicate” hand is also found in his description of love in Spain, which, according to him, is the “most tender” nation when it comes to falling in love: “I have not seen two people who love each other like the two. It is luckily what they love and requite, that they seem Spanish, that, although it is such a severe nation, when it comes to falling in love it is the most tender of all “.
In addition to the research work of Álvaro Cuéllar (University of Vienna) and Germán Vega (University of Valladolid), the PROLOPE group, from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), has also participated in editing and studying the work of lope; as well as the application of the “Transkribus” tool, which has allowed the automatic and “accurate” transcription of this manuscript after being trained for this task.
“Among the 1,300 comedies transcribed automatically (by this tool), ‘La francesa Laura’ was classified as written by Lope de Vega (…) the lexical uses of the work closely aligned with his own, and did not do so with the another 350 playwrights of the time who were included in the experiment”, they explained. Of course, the researchers did not “just” stay with this computer result and carried out other tests such as the study of versification (how Lope habitually used metrics in his works), or orthology (how he pronounced words and used diphthongs, hiatus or sinalefas).
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