31 Jan, 2023 @ 17:15
1 min read

Modern technology unearths 400-year-old comedy penned by one of Spain’s greatest playwrights

Modern Technology Unearths Comedy Classic By One Of Spain's Greatest Playwrights

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE technology at Madrid’s National Library has unearthed a previously unknown comedic play penned by one of Spain’s greatest writers, Felix Lope de Vega.

AI was being used by researchers to transcribe 1,300 uncredited manuscripts and books at the library to save many years of human work.

Another aim was to find out the authors by checking each work against a selection of words used by different writers.

After a year of verification, it has been confirmed that an uncredited manuscript was a Lope de Vega work called ‘La Francesca Laura'(Frenchwoman Laura)- written some five or six years before his death in 1635.

Opening Laura Page
FRONT PAGE(National Library image)

One of the people involved in the AI project, German Vega from Valladolid University said that it was not an original Lope de Vega manuscript, but a copy- perhaps even of the original.

It also had notes for theatre companies intending to put on the play.

The manuscript has been in the National Library since 1886 and had classified it as an ‘anonymous comedy’.

The library said the words used in the text were ‘closely aligned with Lope’s, and not with those of the other 350 playwrights who were part of the AI experiment’.

Experts then used traditional research resources to corroborate the findings.

“La Francesa Laura is a remarkable play, with the dramatic force expected of a mature Lope de Vega,” the library said.

The plot, set in France, focuses around Laura, the daughter of the Duke of Brittany and wife to Count Arnaldo.

The heir to the French throne is captivated by her, and although she rejects him, her jealous husband tries to poison her.

Ultimately, Laura’s righteousness is proven and happiness is restored.

The play will be published for everybody to read and enjoy later this year.

Alex Trelinski

Alex worked for 30 years for the BBC as a presenter, producer and manager. He covered a variety of areas specialising in sport, news and politics. After moving to the Costa Blanca over a decade ago, he edited a newspaper for 5 years and worked on local radio.

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