The Book of Calixto and Melibea and of the Old Whore Celestina


La Celestina is undoubtedly one of the greatest bestsellers in Spanish literature. It is said to have been printed in more than 200 early editions, although fewer than half of these have survived. The work, by Fernando de Rojas (died 1541), began as a comedy in 16 acts, which was extended to 21 acts in the tragicomedy, which became the popular version. In addition to being published throughout Spain, the Spanish text was printed in Lisbon, Rome, Venice, Milan and Antwerp. Early translations into Italian, French, German, English, and Dutch attest to the great popularity of the work. This beautiful illustrated edition, published by the Seville printer Cromberger around 1518–20, is the third of a series of editions by this printer, and the only one entitled Libro de Calixto y Melibea y de la puta vieja Celestina (The book of Calixto and Melibea and of the old whore Celestina) instead of the classic Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea (The tragic-comedy of Calisto and Melibea). The most interesting aspect of Cromberger’s printing is his use, without variation, of a series of woodcut prints in all of his editions of La Celestina, which were probably made from the same printing blocks. They are found at the beginning of each act and are of two types: broad rectangular engravings that represent episodes, and another series of loose engravings showing figures of characters, trees, and buildings. These so-called factotum figures were to become characteristic of Spanish broadsheets well into the 19th century. The book presented here is an extraordinary bibliographic rarity, as it is the only surviving copy of this edition.

Date Created

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Publication Information

Jacobo Cromberger, Seville


Title in Original Language

Libro de Calixto y Melibea y de la puta vieja Celestina


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Type of Item

Physical Description

64 folios : woodcut illustrations

Last updated: May 11, 2015