“Whatever will Be will certainly Be” in Spanish Plays

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

When you are fluent in a language, you can still make mistakes. This is what occurred to the netherlands playwright Theodore Rodenburgh as soon as he embraced his life’s motto “Chi sara sara”.

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Theodore Rodenburgh (1574-1644) was a abundant playwright who adapted four plays native Spanish, number of plays indigenous English, and also a couple of plays from Italian. He, furthermore, adopted the motto “Chi sara sara” roughly 1617 come express his life’s philosophy. That explicitly included the motto come the forewords that his three 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 dig Prospero (1617), and also Jaloersche studenten (1617) respectively. All three forewords through Rodenburgh are ended by the exact same motto written as “Chi sara sara”. Rather of signing his own name come the adaptations, Rodenburgh included this motto to suggest that he to be the author. Anyone in the literary one of Amsterdam knew the he supplied this expression specifically. And also so, it to be a kind of joke.

As a abundant adaptor of Spanish plays and having lived in Madrid for numerous years, it would certainly not it is in strange that Rodenburgh would usage a motto native the Spanish language to describe his own work. With this motto, he could also express that the plays that he composed subscribed to a particular sustained morality.

There is, however, a difficulty 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, us would intend the expression to review “Que sera sera”, such as in the tune of the very same title in the 1956 movie The guy Who Knew too Much and also popularized through Doris day afterwards. This is additionally how most human being know the phrase today. However what go Rodenburgh perform 350 year earlier? Did he mistakenly select the Italian form? That would be strange because that someone that was expert in in ~ least 4 languages, consisting of Italian and Spanish. And it gets even stranger.


Doris Day, Que Sera Sera (1956)

If one bring away a closer look at the phrase, it seems that Rodenburgh’s motto “Chi sara sara” and its Spanish different “Que sera sera” are neither Italian nor Spanish after ~ all. Rodenburgh did not only choose a expression from the not correct language, he made a grammar mistake together well.

What is in reality the matter? The slogan, both in its Spanish spelling—que sera sera—and in the form used through Rodenburgh—chi sara sara—is grammar incorrect. In 2013, Lee Hartman has actually demonstrated exactly how most speakers of germanic languages will know the Spanish “que” in the motto “que sera sera” as a complimentary relative pronoun, character by “that which” or “the point that”. This is, in fact, difficult in romance languages. In French, Italian, and also Spanish, the interrogative duty of “what” is a solitary 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 also French ce qui because that the topic of a clause, or ce que for the straight object”.

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

I think not. It seems that the background behind the phrase “que sera sera” and also “che sara sara” is more complicated and have the right to actually it is in retraced come Elizabethan England. In fact, Hartman discovered that the earliest citation of the motto appears in Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus (written in between 1589–1592, released in 1604) with the Italian spelling “Che sera sera” (Doctor Faustus 1604, I.i.). It appears that the Italian order is even much more frequent until the 1950s, return both the Spanish and Italian spellings room evident, serving both heraldic and expressive functions. The an initial 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 pat Cupid’s Whirligig, wherein the character Nucome says “Well, because tis thus, thus foorth ile loue thee euer, for que sera, sera, gainst what plots therefore euer” (Sharpham 1607, n.p.).

So Rodenburgh had the possibility to adopt the motto from at the very least one the these 2 sources. Though, the did not pick the Spanish assignment in Cupid’s Whirligig but he desired the Italian one in Doctor Faustus instead. Why walk he, however, look at the English and not come the Spanish literary works to acquire inspiration because that a new motto? Wouter Abrahamse has discussed that Rodenburgh was together a polyglot interested in every kinds the literary traditions from roughly Europe, including the Spanish, English, and Italian literatures. Rodenburgh must have actually come throughout the expression in among the English sources and also must have actually thought the it would certainly serve the well as his life’s motto.

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

Then, over there is tho one concern left to answer. Why did Rodenburgh pick the Italian and also not the Spanish spelling? return we deserve to never it is in sure as to what moved Rodenburgh’s decision, that is feasible to market one suggestion. In the early seventeenth century, Italian literary works from the Renaissance was an ext fashionable with literary examples, such as Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarca, and Matteo Bandello. Everyone who can afford the went ~ above Grand tour to Italy and marvelled in ~ the Renaissance buildings in Tuscany and at the old wonders in Rome. As such, choosing the Italian order attests come a type of self-fashioning: pretend to be together Italian as possible, because this will gain you places.

Moreover, Spain was likewise officially tho the arch-enemy the the newly created Dutch Republic. Reflecting that you were sympathetic to develops of Spanish society could it is in dangerous to your literary or otherwise expert career. Thus, Rodenburgh additionally carefully concealed any reference to the Spanish origins of the 3 Lope adaptations. The three plays fairly seemed adaptations directly from Bandello’s Novelle, 보다 recasts native the Spanish comedias. It was Rodenburgh’s literary strategy to hide his sympathy because that Spanish culture but to use this culture at the very same time to score through the basic public.

And Doris Day? She scored with the Spanish assignment of the same phrase. In 350 years’ time, Spanish has become cooler than Italian. And so everyone states “que sera sera”, although it is still in reality incorrect. However who cares? it is a quite catchphrase.

Further reading

Marion, Olga valve & Tim Vergeer, ‘Spain’s Dramatic conquest of the dutch Republic. Rodenburgh as a literary 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 valve Theodore Rodenburgh. Amsterdam 1997.