|About the Book|
Juan Ruiz de Alarcón y Mendoza (1581?, Real de Taxco, now in Guerrero - August 4, 1639), one of the greatest Novohispanic dramatists of the Golden Age, was born in New Spain (modern Mexico).Juan Ruiz de Alarcón was born about 1581 at Real de Taxco, New Spain, where his father was superintendent of mines- his mother was descended from one of Spain’s most illustrious families, the Mendozas. He was small of stature and suffered from hunchbackedness. Besides, his red haired complexion made him an occasional object of scorn, since some sectors of the conservative catholic society in which he later lived held the prejudice that Judas Iscariot was a redhead himself. Because of this, his critics often ridiculed his appearance rather than his works.He went to Spain in 1600, where he studied law at the University of Salamanca. He continued his studies towards a Licentiate in Law—roughly equivalent to a modern Master’s degree—which he finished in 1605, without, however, taking the degree. Instead, he practiced law for a while in Seville, then in 1608 went back to Mexico, and in 1609 received the licentiate from the University of Mexico. He completed his studies for his doctorate fairly soon thereafter, but never received the degree, in all likelihood because of the rather substantial costs attached to the ceremony. He worked as a legal adviser for a while, as an advocate, and as an interim investigating judge, all the while trying repeatedly and unsuccessfully to gain a teaching chair at the University.Returning to Spain about 1611, he entered the household of the marquis de Salinas, and began a frustrating life of job-seeking at court. At the same time, purely as a way of making money apparently, he threw himself into the heady literary and theatrical life of the capital, eventually having a number of his plays performed. His first play, El semejante de sí mismo was unsuccessful, yet it attracted attention to him. By some, he was ridiculed and criticized- from others he obtained support.For ten years, he pursued this double life, until he finally secured first an interim and then a permanent appointment to the Royal Council of the Indies (1626)—rather like an appeals court for Spanish colonies in the New World. Apparently, when political success came, he all but stopped his literary efforts—although he did have two volumes of his plays published (in 1628 and 1634), perhaps because some of them had been pirated and previously published with false attributions to his theatrical rival Félix Lope de Vega. After thirteen years of legal service to the crown, he died at Madrid in 1639.