El juez de los divorcios/The Divorce Court Judge
By Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1610-1615)
Four couples seek divorce, laying out complaints before the judge, but no matter how extreme the case, the judge rules it’s better to stay together.
The first couple to appear before the judge is an old man and his wife Mariana. She complains that he is too old to satisfy her any longer, and the old man is sick of her constant moaning. The judge rules that she cannot divorce her husband simply for being old; they must work it out. The second couple, a soldier and his wife Guiomar, want a divorce on the grounds of his lack of ambition and her demands for recognition for her virtue; the judge doesn’t get a chance to rule on this one before the third couple appear, a barber-surgeon dressed as a doctor and his wife Aldonza. Aldonza feels he misrepresented himself before the wedding, saying he was a proper doctor when he’s only a barber-surgeon, who only tends to wounds and maladies that are not serious. The judge refuses to divorce them merely on the grounds that they no longer enjoy each other’s company; he says if he had to divorce all such couples, no one would stay married. Finally a coal-carrier comes along (without his wife) and seeks a divorce from the prostitute he married in order to keep a promise he made under the influence of vast amounts of wine; the judge won’t divorce anyone in the courtroom, and adjourns the session saying that everyone must submit their complaints and evidence in writing. Two musicians come along with their instruments and sing a song, the theme of which is ‘let’s stay together’.
Luces de bohemia/Bohemian Lights
By Ramón María del Valle-Inclán (c. 1920)
The Bohemian lights are fading fast in 1920s Madrid. Join the blind poet Max Estrella on the last night of his life, as he wanders through a city mired in corruption and political unrest. Watch as his bright star gradually dies, obliterated by drink, poverty and a society indifferent to literary genius.
With a few words of introduction by Dr Laura Lonsdale, Queen's College, Oxford.