desglosada ☜☞ desglosada

The third and fourth definitions of the verb desglosar in the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española read as follows: “Separar un impreso de otros con los cuales está encuadernado” and “Separar algo de un todo, para estudiarlo o considerarlo por separado.”

The word “desglosada” therefore translates into English as “a printed work separated from others with which it was bound” and “something separated from a whole to study it or consider it on its own.” The term desglosada is integral to the study of sueltas and has no exact equivalent in English. “Disbound” is not an adequate translation, as it may simply refer to something removed from its binding without the notion of having been separated from other items (such as other plays in a collection of dramatic works) in that binding. A desglosada, therefore, began its life as part of, or was intended to be part of, a collected volume known as a parte (see in Miscellanies) or some other fancifully named collection of works*, either by a single Golden-Age playwright or several playwrights. A great many of these volumes, printed from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, had the normal arrangement of caption title, continuous pagination, sequential signatures, and running headers corresponding to the play. A clever printer might not print page (or folio) numbers to take advantage of the opportunity of selling individual titles without binding them into the intended volume. The specific name for these items is desglosable. Except in early volumes, each play started on a recto and ended on a verso. If considerable blank space remained below FIN, a handsome woodblock would complete the design. (A play ending on a recto would normally have a blank verso.)

In the normal sequence of events, the plays were bound in the multivolume collected works. Chance, perhaps in the form of greedy people, would cause them to have their bindings removed and the single plays sold separately (a higher profit could be made selling sueltas as single items rather than a bound volume; this is analogous to the practice of breaking up books with illustrated plates.) These are the desglosadas; they have been disbound as well as separated from their companions; their telltale signs are ornaments (headpieces & tailpieces) used by printers of the collected works, odd signatures, and perhaps pagination.

Desglosadas are found in most library collections of sueltas. Their accurate cataloguing, tracing each one back to its origin, requires in-depth knowledge of Spanish Golden-Age literature, printing practices, intimate recognition of typefaces, and a keen memory. This level of scholarship cannot be expected of cataloguers, even in the best of Special Collections.

The playwrights whose works were most frequently printed and reprinted were Pedro Calderón de la Barca and Agustín Moreto, and with few exceptions, the high percentage of Calderón plays within all the collections reflect this. The desglosadas in this database have been examined and traced back to their source by Don W. Cruickshank, professor emeritus University College, Dublin, Spanish Golden-Age scholar, author of Don Pedro Calderón, Cambridge UP, 2009.

For an in-depth discussion of Partes and Escogidas see entries in Miscellanies.

* Many of these collected works had the word "escogidas" in their title, others tried to be more poetic: Norte de la poesia española illvstrado del sol de doze comedias...(Felipe May, 1616) Verdores del Parnaso en diferentes entremeses, bayles y mojigangas Gil de Armesto y Castro, 1697), Jardín ameno de varias y hermosas flores (in 28 volumes); Ramillete de entremses de diferentes autores (Pamplona 1700)

See also: disbound
See Partes in Miscellanies
  • The final page of this play has all the hallmarks of a desglosada. Note the high page number, 545, and the signature mark, Ll4, which indicate this being the part of a larger work. Additionally, note the catchword "COME-" at the bottom right, indicating the beginning of the caption title of the next suelta, COMEDIA.

    La hija del aire (2a pte.)

    [Oberlin College]