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The forms and definitions of tragedy have been a frequent preoccupation for James Parr over the course of his distinguished career. One of his more influential articles was "El príncipe constante and the Issue of Christian Tragedy," published in 1986. Parr's approach was primarily ethical and formalist, dealing with the Aristotelian requirements of tragedy: areté, hubris, catharsis. He countered the long and distinguished scholarship that maintains that Christian tragedy is an impossibility by reconsidering, even redefining, hamartia and anagnorisis, and essentially ignoring peripeteia. Hamartia, in his reading, is much more than a flaw or an error. Instead, relying on the work of Peter Alexander, Parr asserted that hamartia involves the responsibility of the protagonist, who brings his misfortune upon himself. Regarding anagnorisis, that moment when the protagonist realizes what he has done, Parr accepted that a Christian martyr would experience no such moment of insight, and thus made anagnorisis a function of the reader or spectator. By adopting this different model, and by paying much more attention to matters such as suffering and justice, he was able to conclude that, despite its differences from Oedipus and Antigone, Calderón's martyr play should be considered tragedy.


Barbara Simerka, Amy R. Williamsen, & Shannon Polchow


Bucknell University Press





Publication Information

Critical Reflections: Essays on Golden Age Spanish Literature in Honor of James A. Parr