A Translation of Leandro Fernandez De Moratín’s El Sí de las Niñas / An Innocent Girl’s Consent

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Following the Wars of the Spanish Succession in the early years of the eighteenth century, France sent a prince to become King Felipe V of Spain. With him came French Neo-Classicism into the Spanish court, an effect lasting into the nineteenth century. During this period the dramatists in Spain most often wrote translations of French plays, or their own, according to the strict Neo-Classical rules of time, place and action.

Leandro Fernández de Moratín was schooled by his father and the father’s friends in the Neo-Classic traditions, but he felt the differences between the French sense of good taste and the Spanish spirit that appreciates, even thrives on, the pleasures and sorrows of our human drama.

In the play El sí de las niñas, Moratín adheres to the Neo-Classical rules. The action of the play takes place in one location during the course of one night. The main characters are all of the same social class in spite of significant economic differences.

The play is a delightful farce, although in the early nineteenth century it was seen and even banned as sacrilegious by Spain’s Catholic Church. It is a love story about an older man, never married, who hopes to wed a young girl who will love and care for him in his dotage. His wealth will sustain not only the girl, but her impoverished mother who favors the marriage for her own benefits. Without the mother’s knowledge the girl has met and fallen in love with a handsome young army officer who gave her a false name. In fact, he is the nephew and presumed heir of the older man.

For a work of the early nineteenth century, El sí de las niñas was much more lively and popular than others, and, even today and in translation it is a very vibrant play.


A Young Girl’s Consent-El sí de las niñas is one of the most popular plays of 19th-Century Spanish literature. The current translation by Dr. Robert Trimble is an outstanding version in English, faithful to the historical background of its time and, at the same time, written in a vivid, clear and approachable style ... [this] translation is an excellent edition of what is probably Moratín’s best play. The plot is very accessible and the translation work is very well done based on accuracy and a solid work on lexicon, phraseology and syntax. All remaining now is to invite the reader to enter this interesting 19th-century drama and enjoy the world of Neo-classical tensions between tradition and modernity, love and passion, honor and pride, all with a fortunate happy ending.” – (from the Preface) Professor Alberto Egea Fernández-Montesinos, Centro de Estudios Andaluces, Seville, Spain

“Dr. Trimble’s introduction provides an interesting and thorough outline of Spanish political and social history, starting as far back as the fifteenth century. His reader is better able to understand the worldview of Moratín’s characters and the issues of social class underlying their actions ... Although this play is Moratín’s best-known work and represents the pinnacle of Neoclassic Spanish Theater, I am aware of just one other translation, published over forty years ago. In Spanish literature studies, Golden Age and Romantic Theater often tend to overshadow eighteenth-century work. Thus, I am very pleased that after more than forty years, this work is being retranslated into English ... I highly recommend this translation as a welcome update for today’s reader.” – Professor Carlos Valencia, University of Richmond

“This English translation expresses in lively language Moratín’s exploration of the social mores and of sentimental preoccupations that riveted the early nineteenth-century Spaniards. This play captures the wit, the irreverent humor, and the social satire that amused, as well as occasionally aggravated, the author’s contemporaries ... Dr. Trimble’s translation of this major play in Spanish literary history is a welcome aid to university students of Spanish literature, as well as an essential tool for students of comparative literature. Moreover, the availability of this play is an opportunity to expand the theatre repertoire of period-acting enthusiasts, who can now present Moratín’s entertaining masterpiece to English-speaking audiences.” – Professor Sanda Munjic, University of Toronto

Table of Contents

Works Consulted
Title Page with List of Characters
Act I
Act II

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