Celestina’s House — Paula Rego


Celestina’s House, 2001 by Paula Rego (b. 1935)

Few virgins (I thank God for it) have you seen in this city that I have not helped sell their wares. As soon as the girl is born, I write her down in my register and keep a catalogue of all their names to the intent that I might know how many escaped my net. Why, what did you think of me, Sempronio? Can I live by the air? Can I feed myself with wind? Do I inherit any other land? Have I any other house or vineyard? Know you of any other substance of mine besides this office? By what do I eat and drink? By what do I put clothes on my back and shoes on my feet? In this city  was I born; in it was I bred; and in it I live (though I say it) in good credit and estimation, as all the world knows. You may rest assured that he who knows not both my name and my house is a stranger in this town.

From José María Ruano de la Haza’s adaptation of Celestina. Based on the English translation by James Mabbe (1631) of the Comedia de Calisto y Melibea by Fernando de Rojas (1499).