Fray Gabriel TUllez, who wrote under the pen-name of Tirso de Molina, is the third great dramatist (with Lope de Vega and Calder¾n) of the 17th century Spanish theatre. If Lope heads all the rest for sheer inventive vitality and Calder¾n for well-wrought poetic and intellectual substance, Tirso is supreme as a creator of character. Best known for his Trickster of Seville, the original Don Juan play, he produced others no less remarkable, of which Damned for Despair is one of the greatest. Paulo, the hermit whose obsession with his own salvation drives him to rebel against God, and Enrico, the Neapolitan gangster, drawn to repentance in spite of himself, are creations just as memorable as Don Juan Tenorio. Their strangely linked destinies make for a spiritual and psychological drama of extraordinary intensity and continuing relevance.