CELESTINA, a novel in dialogue form that ranks as one of Spain’s greatest literary masterpieces. The oldest extant published version of the book (Burgos 1499 ) bears the title Comedia de Calisto y Melibea, but there almost certainly was an earlier version. Fernando de Rojas (died 1541?) wrote most of La Celestina, but studies of its sources, themes, and syntax support the belief that the first part was written by an unknown author before 1499.
The diabolic bawd Celestina is the central character. Through guile, a perceptive grasp of psychology, and a talent for persuasion, she is able to arrange the tragic love affair between the young aristocrat Calisto and the beautiful Melibea. The lovers die—Calisto by accident, Melibea by suicide.
Influences on La Celestina include Roman (especially Terentian) comedy, Petrarch, medieval Spanish literature, notably the Libro de buen amor by Juan Ruiz. Markedly medieval are La Celestina s moral purpose and the mores and language of Celestina and her companions. A realistic work, La Celestina is a forerunner of the picaresque novel.