Calderón had a relatively short period of apprenticeship as a playwright. The speed of his rise to prominence amongst his peers and his achieving success with audiences, popular and courtly, which were the result of the consummate skills he displayed as a dramatist, helped contribute to the rapid condensing of the myth of his having been born fully formed. In this article, the author analyses Calderón’s bold engagement with Lope de Vega and some of this writer’s contemporaries as he began his life as a playwright in the early 1620s. In particular, the article builds upon the work of Erik Coenen and Germán Vega García-Luengos, who have studied the early play, Cómo se comunican dos estrellas contrarias, and its possible place in the Calderonian canon. Set in Galicia, in the aftermath of the eleventh-century division of the Christian kingdoms by King Fernando, the drama is a lyrical take on Lope’s Las almenas de Toro. Calderón’s dramatization of the same epic material as Lope anticipates some of his later aesthetic concerns and allows us to glimpse his earliest technical engagement with playwriting. It demonstrates both dependence and single-mindedness and, perhaps curiously given his later reputation, a predilection for comical and lyrical modes.

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