Unicaja Foundation: ‘The Goddess Reason’: the rescued play by the Machado brothers | Babelia

The military uprising of July 1936 left Manuel and Antonio Machado on both sides of the war divide: Manuel, in Burgos, where he would make common cause with the rebels; Antonio, in republican Madrid, from where he would stumble (Rocafort, Barcelona) until he reached Collioure. They never met again. In those bitter days, several joint projects of the brothers were suspended, including The goddess Reason, drama of which there was vague news. Between 1934 and 1936 the authors reiterated their intention to stage the story of Teresa Cabarrús or Madame Tallien, in a five-act play in verse and prose. Finally, it was written only in prose, and of the five planned acts we only have three, copied by José Machado, brother of the previous ones and his secretary in fact, probably as a clean support so that the authors, with tangled calligraphy, could review and continue writing. The drama was part of the funds acquired in 2018 by the Unicaja Foundation from the heirs, after successively passing through the hands of Manuel Machado (the only one of the five brothers who remained in Spain after the war), his widow, nephews, children of these.

The editors, Rafael Alarcón and Antonio Rodríguez Almodóvar, whose work of purging and scrutiny must have been unsatisfactory, think that the two tables of the third act correspond, in reality, to two acts, with which there would be four in total, to which They have added a fifth reconstructed from scattered drafts, notes and notes. The volume makes available to the reader a work of which a diplomatic edition has also been made for the use of specialists and the enjoyment of collectors, and of which some samples are offered in an appendix.

Between 1934 and 1936 the authors reiterated their intention to stage the story of Teresa Cabarrús or Madame Tallien, in a five-act play in verse and prose

The text addresses the captivating personality and political performance of Teresa Cabarrús (1773-1835), here called Susana Montalbán (perhaps to maneuver with greater ease in the entanglement of historical truth and literary fiction, and to rid the character of her label as a prostitute of high rank). The Spanish Teresa, known in France as Our Lady of Thermidor And with a leading role that places her in the fall of Robespierre and in Josefina’s inner circle, she met all the requirements to be one of the splendid Machado women: beautiful, intelligent, with three husbands, many more lovers and ten children by different parents. Its historical substance was, moreover, trite in memoirs of contemporaries, biographies, novels, fanciful recreations … The action is limited to the period between 1786 and 1799, which allows a glimpse of the French Revolution, Terror, the restitution of order, the Napoleonic coup. The first act begins with the marriage pact that her father, Francisco Cabarrús, here called Carlos de Montalbán agrees to for Susana; and the fifth closes with an aide-de-camp announcing Bonaparte: an end without a proper clasp. Shortly before, there had been a dispute between Susana and Tallien, her former husband, when the latter, who asks her fidelity to revolutionary principles, affirms that the Revolution was Freedom, and she corrects him: “It was nothing more than the guillotine. The people without a guide, who only know how to destroy ”.

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The temporal annotations specified by José Machado do not conform to the historical chronology, which has led the editors to reorder the materials. They have also added names of the speakers, whose speeches were sometimes introduced by a simple script, and omitted some authentic fragment, as inconsistent with the argument already developed (which implies “fixing” oversights by the authors). His intervention, necessary to make the text understandable, opens up too many questions about it, which must be read as the unfinished and lacking draft of a work that promises more than it gives: the only one of the Machado, by the way, based outside of Spain although applicable to Spain. However, it is not appropriate to carry out a reading in a national key, as perhaps it will be done, and to exaggerate the correlation with the drift of the Republic in the radical-cedista government, when the bugles of the Civil War were already sounding in which it ended up stranding this purpose.

Manuel and Antonio Machado
Editing by Rafael Alarcón Sierra and Antonio Rodríguez Almodóvar
Alliance / Unicaja Foundation. Madrid, 2021
160 pages. 16 euros

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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