ALARCON, JUAN RUIZ DE (1518?-1639), Spanish dramatist, was born about 1581 at Tlacho (Mexico), where his father was superintendent of mines. He came to Europe in 1600, studied law at Salamanca, and in 1608 went back to Mexico to compete for a professorial chair. Returning to Spain in 1611, he entered the household of the marquis de Salinas, became a successful dramatist, and was nominated a member of the council of the Indies in 1623. He died at Madrid on the 4th of August 1639. His plays were published in 1628 and 1634; the most famous of these is La Verdad sospechosa, which was adapted by Corneille as the Menteur. Alarcon had the misfortune to be a hunchback, to be embittered by his deformity, and to be constantly engaged in personal quarrels with his rivals; but his attitude in these polemics is always dignified, and his crushing retort to Lope de Vega in Los pechos privilegiados is an unsurpassable example of cold, scornful invective. More than any other Spanish dramatist, Alarcon is preoccupied with ethical aims, and his gift of dramatic presentation is as brilliant as his dialogue is natural and vivacious. It has been alleged that his foreign origin is noticeable in his plays, and there is some foundation for the criticism; but his workmanship is exceptionally conscientious, and in El Tejedor de Segovia he had produced a masterpiece of national art, national sentiment and national expression.
Source: 1911 encyclopedia.
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