Federico Garcia Lorca
A Spanish musician, painter, poet, and dramatist, Federico Garcia Lorca is without a doubt one among the most famed and loved of Hispanic writers after Cervantes. He was born on June 5, 1898, near Granada, in a liberal bourgeois family from Andalusia. Early on, Garcia Lorca devoted himself to painting, music, and poetry. After high-school, he read law and literature in college at the University of Granada and at the University of Madrid. Around that time, he befriended Salvador Dali, Luis Bunuel, and Rafael Alberti, and quickly shared their fascination for the rise of surrealism.
At 20, he wrote and created his first play, in verse, The Butterfly’s Evil Spell (1919). The play was not very well received, which prompted its author to temporarily abandon theater. That same year, he published his first book, Impressions and Landscape, and moved to Madrid. Giving up on academic study, he became a full-time poet and painter.
Some of his early poems, such as Songs (1921) and Romancero Gitano (1928), artfully mixing traditional Andalus themes with complex poetry, brought him considerable acclaim.
In 1929, he left Spain to travel around the Americas, discovering the United States (1929), Cuba (1929-1932), then Argentine and Uruguay (1933-1934). His Poema del Cante Jondo (1931) was a prime example of his lyrical style, nuanced by surrealist and Gitano influences. His travels to the New World infused him with experiences he used to enrich and renew his poetry, as demonstrated in the almost excessive lyricism of his Poet in New York (1932).
After moving back to Spain, Garcia Lorca returned to theater, and founded La Baracca, a student theater group with which he travelled all around Spain to perform some of the country’s greatest plays. He also had the company perform some of his own earlier plays, such as The Love of Don Perlimplin and Belisa in the Garden (written in 1931), The Shoemaker’s Prodigious Wife (1929-1933), or Doña Rosita the Spinster (1930). La Baracca also produced a trilogy of tragedies considered to be among the playwright’s greatest works: Blood Wedding (1933), Yerma (1935) and The House of Bernada Alba (1936).
As civil war broke out in 1936, Federico Garcia Lorca took the risk of returning to his conservative hometown of Granada. A known leftist, Garcia Lorca was arrested in the very first days of the war by anti-Republican rebels, and was executed by firing squad along with other left-wing sympathizers on August 19, 1936, by the Franquist guard, near Viznar. His books were forbidden and publicly burned.
Despite his premature death, Federico Garcia Lorca left behind him a considerably body of works and a great many readers. At the Universal Exposition of Paris, in 1937, French writer Jean Cassou delivered a moving eulogy for the poet: through Garcia Lorca, he said, Spain reached the universal, as it reached the universal through the dances of the Gitano women and the genius of its eternal people, among “the noblest and deepest races of the world.”
His friend Enrique Amorim erected a monument in his memory in 1956 in Salto (Uruguay). His legacy could not be properly honored in Spain until Franco’s 1975 death. A few years later, a statue of Garcia Lorca was erected on the Plaza Santa Ana, in Madrid.
This great national poet of Spain, who tirelessly fought on behalf of the marginalized and was among the Spanish Republic’s most iconic writers, remains in Spain a symbol of the atrocities of dictatorship.
- Federico Garcia Lorca by Magali Negroni (1997)
(by Margaux MIGNARD)