The Perfect Gentleman

By Jo Labanyi

Dear David,

It is impossible to imagine Hispanism without you, but I am hoping that your retirement will give you the time to be more active than ever. Spanish 18th century studies would not be enjoying its current revival (even I am teaching it now!) had you not been able to make it so interesting and to convey your enthusiasm to others. And we have to thank you for your pioneering work on 19th century Spanish theater which reminded us—before Spanish cultural studies existed—that theater is an industry that depends on entrepreneurs and popular tastes, not to mention the craftsmen who built those stage props and created those special effects. Thanks to you, no longer is Spanish theater seen as just a collection of texts (which it was when I was a student).

Although we have not coincided personally all that often, I have taken away from those occasions an appreciation of your great generosity and sense of fun. I remember well the afternoon, during my visit to UVA, when you drove me round the local countryside, stopping off at local wineries where the conversation was as amazing (I’m tempted to say “delicious” because the gossip was the best part) as the wine. I hope you know that the word that comes to almost everyone’s mind when talking about you is “the perfect gentleman.”

May you have much enjoyment in your retirement.

Jo Labanyi