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Federico Garcia Lorca

Born in Fuente Vaqueros near Granada in 1898, Federico Garcia Lorca was the son of a prosperous farmer and a school teacher mother. It was from Lorca’s mother that he took most influence in early life – she taught him to play music and sing – skills that would lay the foundations for the poet’s sense of rhythm and timing. In 1909 the family moved into Grenada where he would later mingle in artistic circles and wield a great influence amongst his peers. He first studied law at Grenada before moving to university in Madrid to the famous “Residencia de estudiantes” in 1919.

One year earlier, Lorca had his first collections of poems published, entitled “Impresiones y paisajes”. It enjoyed critical acclaim without much commercial success. However, now in Madrid, Lorca was to make friends with a great many influential young Spanish artists, two of the most notable being Salvadore Dalí who needs little introduction, and Luis Buńel, the groundbreaking film maker, who Lorca was to become great friends with. 1919 also saw Lorca get his first break on the stage; he wrote and staged his first play: “El Melefico de la Mariposa”. It didn’t go too well and was laughed off the stage after four shows; the incident was to sour Lorca’s feelings towards the theatre going public forever.

During the twenties, Lorca improved as a poet and playwright and became increasingly involved in the “avant garde” movement becoming a key member of “generation of 27”, a group of poets and artists keen to employ the latest techniques and theories to their medium. In this period he published another three anthologies of poetry including, probably his most well known work, “Romancero Gitano” in 1928. His second play, “Mariana Pineda” had also opened to great acclaim in 1927.

Behind his public success Lorca was struggling to keep his private life together and experienced extreme bouts of depression during this period. His friendship with Buńel and Dali was becoming strained and his attempts to hide his homosexuality from his family were becoming increasingly thin-veiled. During this period his turbulent and often one-sided relationship with sculptor Emilio Alandrén was also collapsing, adding to Lorca’s torments.

In 1930, Lorca left Spain for the USA in order to study English at Columbia University. Lorca was somewhat let down by his first experience of a modern democracy, America’s rampant commercialism and discrimination of minority groups provided Lorca with the fuel to produce some of his most challenging work. His poetry anthology “Poeta en Nueva York” and his play “El Publico” were both penned whilst Lorca was in the USA; indeed, “El Publico” wasn’t to see the light of day until the 1970’s due to the repression of his work under Franco’s dictatorship.

Garcia Lorca’s return to Spain in 1931 coincided with the fall of the Prima Rivera dictatorship and the reestablishment of the Spanish republic. Lorca was asked to head-up a government sponsored theatre company, aimed at bringing classic theatre to rural Spain. During this period Lorca created his celebrated “rural trilogy” of plays: “Bodas de Sangre”, “Yerma” and “La Casa de Bernada Alba”.

The outbreak of the Civil War in 1936 was to mean an untimely end for Garcia Lorca. Ultimately an independent and free-thinking artist, the specific reasons for his murder still remain something of a mystery. We do know that he left for Granada in 1936 where he was arrested and later murdered by Falangists (who would later go on to commit some of the greatest atrocities of the war) and thrown into an unmarked grave in or around Viznar, near Granada. Andalusia was the main stronghold of the nationalist movement and some maintain that when Lorca set out to Granada, it was more than likely he knew he’d never return alive, especially as his brother in law was the Socialist mayor of Grenada at the time.

Lorca was to become one of the great martyrs of the Civil War and in many respects epitomised the free-thinking opposition to Franco’s regime. Franco himself wouldn’t want to hear mention of the author or the circumstances of his death so Lorca’s full oeuvre hasn’t really been in print for much more than 25 years.

His undoubted talents place him in the same bracket as Cervantes and he has gone on to become Spain’s most influential literary figure of the 20th century despite his untimely and, ultimately premature, death at the age of 38.

Submitted by:

Mike McDougall

Mike McDougall has five years experience working as a travel writer and marketeer. He is currently working to provide additional content for Babylon Idiomas (http://www.babylon-idiomas.com/eng/htm/learn-spanish-spain.htm), a Spanish language school with an excellent presence in Spain and Latin America.

This work is covered by a creative commons licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/uk/





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