“Whatever will Be will certainly Be” in Spanish Plays

November 28, 2019 • Medieval and Early contemporary Studies•5min read

When you space fluent in a language, you deserve to still do mistakes. This is what occurred to the dutch playwright Theodore Rodenburgh as soon as he adopted his life’s motto “Chi sara sara”.

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Theodore Rodenburgh (1574-1644) was a productive playwright who adjusted four plays native Spanish, numerous plays from English, and also a few plays from Italian. He, furthermore, adopted the motto “Chi sara sara” about 1617 come express his life’s philosophy. That explicitly included the motto come the forewords of his 3 adaptations native Spanish. Lope de Vega’s El perseguido (1603), El molino (1604), and La escolástica celosa became Hertoginne Casandra en Karel Baldeus (1617), Hertoginne Celia en tomb Prospero (1617), and also Jaloersche studenten (1617) respectively. All 3 forewords through Rodenburgh are ended by the same motto composed as “Chi sara sara”. Instead of signing his very own name to the adaptations, Rodenburgh included this motto to suggest that he to be the author. Anyone in the literary one of Amsterdam knew that he offered this expression specifically. And so, it was a type of joke.

As a fertile adaptor of Spanish plays and also having lived in Madrid for several years, it would not be strange the Rodenburgh would usage a motto indigenous the Spanish language to describe his very own work. Through this motto, the could also express that the plays the he created subscribed to a certain sustained morality.

There is, however, a problem with the motto “Chi sara sara” (or together it is written much more often: “Che sara sara”). It appears to it is in Italian and also not Spanish. In Spanish, we would suppose the phrase to review “Que sera sera”, such as in the tune of the exact same title in the 1956 movie The guy Who Knew too Much and also popularized through Doris day afterwards. This is also how most world know the phrase today. Yet what walk Rodenburgh do 350 years earlier? Did he mistakenly choose the Italian form? That would be strange because that someone who was fluently in in ~ least four languages, including Italian and also Spanish. And also it gets also stranger.


Doris Day, Que Sera Sera (1956)

If one take away a closer look in ~ the phrase, it seems that Rodenburgh’s motto “Chi sara sara” and also its Spanish variant “Que sera sera” space neither Italian nor Spanish ~ all. Rodenburgh did no only choose a phrase from the not correct language, that made a grammar mistake as well.

What is actually the matter? The slogan, both in that is Spanish spelling—que sera sera—and in the kind used by Rodenburgh—chi sara sara—is grammatically incorrect. In 2013, Lee Hartman has demonstrated exactly how most speakers of german languages will know the Spanish “que” in the motto “que sera sera” together a complimentary relative pronoun, paraphrased by “that which” or “the point that”. This is, in fact, difficult in romantic languages. In French, Italian, and Spanish, the interrogative duty of “what” is a single word (Spanish qué, Italian che, and French que). Hartman writes that “the cost-free relative is a two-word expression—Spanish lo que; Italian ciò che, quello che, or quel che, interchangeably; and French ce qui because that the subject of a clause, or ce que because that the straight object”.

Thus, if Rodenburgh had actually been observant that should have written “Quel che sarà sarà” if selecting the Italian kind or “Lo que será será” if he wanted the Spanish spelling. Instead, he supplied a strange kind in between. Walk this mean that Gerbrand Adriaensz Bredero and Samuel Coster were ideal after all, as soon as they said that Rodenburgh blundered considerably with his verses?

I think not. It seems that the history behind the expression “que sera sera” and also “che sara sara” is more facility and can actually be retraced to Elizabethan England. In fact, Hartman uncovered that the earliest citation of the motto appears in Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus (written between 1589–1592, released in 1604) v the Italian order “Che sera sera” (Doctor Faustus 1604, I.i.). It seems that the Italian spelling is even more frequent until the 1950s, back both the Spanish and also Italian spellings are evident, serving both heraldic and expressive functions. The first purely expressive usage of the motto appears, however, (with the Spanish spelling) soon after its quote in Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus. Hartman writes that we have to look in ~ Edward Sharpham’s beat Cupid’s Whirligig, wherein the character Nucome claims “Well, since tis thus, hence foorth ile loue thee euer, because that que sera, sera, gainst what plots for this reason euer” (Sharpham 1607, n.p.).

So Rodenburgh had the chance to take on the motto from at the very least one that these two sources. Though, he did not choose the Spanish spelling in Cupid’s Whirligig but he desired the Italian one in Doctor Faustus instead. Why did he, however, look at the English and also not to the Spanish literary works to obtain inspiration because that a brand-new motto? Wouter Abrahamse has questioned that Rodenburgh was as a polyglot interested in all kinds that literary traditions from around Europe, consisting of the Spanish, English, and also Italian literatures. Rodenburgh must have come across the phrase in one of the English sources and also must have actually thought that it would serve that well as his life’s motto.

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Portrait of Theodore Rodenburgh pull in Spanish fashion (source: Beeldbank Amsterdam)

Then, over there is tho one inquiry left to answer. Why go Rodenburgh select the Italian and also not the Spanish spelling? return we have the right to never be sure regarding what relocated Rodenburgh’s decision, it is possible to market one suggestion. In the beforehand seventeenth century, Italian literature from the Renaissance was much more fashionable with literary examples, such together Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarca, and Matteo Bandello. Anyone who can afford the went on Grand tour to Italy and also marvelled at the Renaissance buildings in Tuscany and also at the old wonders in Rome. Together such, choosing the Italian spelling attests come a form of self-fashioning: pretend come be together Italian together possible, because this will acquire you places.

Moreover, Spain was also officially quiet the arch-enemy that the newly created Dutch Republic. Mirroring that you were sympathetic to forms of Spanish society could it is in dangerous to your literary or otherwise skilled career. Thus, Rodenburgh also carefully concealed any type of reference to the Spanish origins of the three Lope adaptations. The 3 plays quite seemed adaptations straight from Bandello’s Novelle, than recasts native the Spanish comedias. It to be Rodenburgh’s literature strategy come hide his sympathy for Spanish culture but to use this culture at the exact same time come score through the basic public.

And Doris Day? She scored v the Spanish order of the same phrase. In 350 years’ time, Spanish has become cooler 보다 Italian. And also so everyone claims “que sera sera”, although the is still in reality incorrect. But who cares? it is a quite catchphrase.

Further reading

Marion, Olga valve & Tim Vergeer, ‘Spain’s Dramatic conquest of the netherlands Republic. Rodenburgh as a literature Mediator the Spanish Theatre’, De Zeventiende Eeuw. Cultuur in de Nederlanden in Interdisciplinair Perspectief 32.1 (2016): 40-60.

Hartman, Lee, ‘“Que sera sera”: The English root of a Pseudo-Spanish Proverb’, Proverbium, 30 (2013): 51-104.

Marlowe, Christopher, Doctor Faustus. London: 1604.

Sharpham, Edward (1607). Cupid’s Whirligig. London: E. Allde. Cambridge 1996.

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Abrahamse, Wouter, Het toneel van Theodore Rodenburgh. Amsterdam 1997.