Sunday, June 5, 2016

Pride Month Profiles: Federico Garcia Lorca

Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca (1898-1936)
Poet, playwright, artist, theatrical director

I know that my outline will be tranquil in the north-wind of a sky without reflections, mercury of watching, chaste mirror where the pulse of my spirit is broken. Because if ivy and the coolness of linen are the law of the body I leave behind, my outline in the sand will be the ancient unembarrassed silence of the crocodile. And though my tongue of frozen doves will never hold the flavour of flame, only the lost taste of broom, I’ll be the free mark of oppressed laws on the neck of the stiff branch and on the endless aching dahlias.

Trained as a classical pianist, Lorca turned to poetry in 1916. Influences on his worked were rich and varied, from Andalusian folk song to the music of de Falla to the work of Surrealists like Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali, with whom Lorca had an intense personal relationship in 1925-28. The end of that relationship, combined with the collapse of another- with a sculptor- and the loss of privacy that came with the sudden popularity of his work, led him into a deep depression he sought to assuage with extended travel in the US and Cuba, 1929-30.

Lorca’s New York experiences deepened the populist vein in his work; on his return to Spain, he moved, triumphantly, into theater with a series of provocative works that won him wide praise and ill-concealed enmity from the forces of the right. Shortly after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, a group of Nationalist troops, tracked Lorca down, placed him in confinement, then, after several days, executed him. The reasons why have never been settled his remains have never been found.

Having transformed Spanish writing and theater in a career lasting only nineteen years, the dead Lorca was almost more trouble than he had been alive (“A dead man in Spain is more alive than a dead man anywhere in the world,” he wrote in 1933). Franco, the Spanish dictator, banned Lorca’s work until 1953; after that only limited, censored versions were allowed in print. Since Franco’s death, Lorca has become a symbol of Spain literary greatness, as well as the need to deal with the horrors of the dictatorship.

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