«This book attempts to lay a stubborn ghost. The ghost I refer to is the critical notion, long maintained both inside and outside Spain, that the great playwrights of the Golden Age never produced tragedy. I have never been persuaded of this view myself, but persuading myself on the one hand and persuading other people are two very different things. The essays newly written here represent a final effort on my part not merely to establish the real existence of Spanish tragic drama which critical opinion in recent times seems more readily disposed to accept but also to spell out in detail the answers to a far more intransigent conundrum: how did Spanish tragedy function in its own right as indigenous genre modified by the affective substance of Aristotles Poetics in order to achieve the tragic effect? The task before us, therefore, may be said to be twofold: 1) to draw up a corpus of early seventeenth-century dramas from the pens of Lope de Vega, Vélez de Guevara, Tirso de Molina, Calderón de la Barca and others which may with confidence be classified in the tragic category, and 2) to show step by step how this tragic corpus functioned according to Spanish rules and aesthetic conventions of its own, enabling us thereby to arrive at last at a definition of the genre.» Henry W. Sullivan, Preface.