Sunday, 17 February 2013

Friend of Faustus, The German Valdes or Germán Valdés

I have recently been reading in some depth the play "Doctor Faustus" by Christopher Marlowe as part of my studies for course AA100: The Arts Past and Present. I was intrigued by the numerous references to the Spanish. At the beginning of the drama, Faustus seeks the advice of two friends who are well experienced in the black arts. One is named Cornelius, and the other is "The German Valdes." This might not have arouse much curiosity on the part of most readers, as the play is set in Germany and it would be unremarkable that one of the characters be German. Except that most of the characters are, too. So why single out Valdes to be described as German?

However, being well acquainted with the Spanish language, to me the name leaps off the page. "Germán" is a popular forename in Spanish-speaking cultures. I haven't read any printed analyses of the play, and searching on the Web has proved fruitless because of the quantity of published copies of the text. so maybe someone has written about this before, in which case I would like to hear about it.

The Wikipedia article about the name Germán gives a list of famous people with the name. The most famous was the Mexican film star Germán Valdés.