Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Happy birthday, Federico Garcia Lorca

Federico Garcia Lorca
It is the birthday of Spanish dramatist and poet Federico Garcia Lorca (1898), who is considered one of the greatest of Spain's 20th century poets. He was assassinated at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. A collector of folk songs and lore, he was known in his lifetime for his work rooted in the Andalucia section of southern Spain. The Gypsy Ballads (1928) was translated into English in 1953. He also wrote of flamenco dancing, bullfighting, and Andalucian culture. Lorca also was known for his plays, though his career as a dramatist began rather inauspiciously. His first play, The Butterfly's Evil Spell (1920), about an unlikely love affair between a butterfly and a beetle, was laughed off the stage after only four performances. His second, however, was quite a success. Mariana Pineda (1927) told the story of a folklore heroine from Granada who famously opposed King Ferdinand VII. Salvador Dali designed the sets. The political theme proved popular throughout Spain. Garcia Lorca was associated with the artists group Generation of '27, where he met Dali and filmmaker Luis Buñuel. Garcia Lorca came to America in 1929 and stayed in New York, though he also visited Vermont and Cuba. When he returned to Spain, he ran a government-sponsored traveling theater company that presented his plays and others throughout the country. When the Spanish Civil War began in 1936, Garcia Lorca was arrested by Nationalist militia the same day his brother-in-law, who was a Socialist, was murdered and dragged through the streets of Granada. His body was never found. Scholars still investigate the circumstances of his death as well as his work, some of which has been published only recently. Garcia Lorca produced at least 14 poetry collections, 15 plays, and other writings. He also produced drawings and paintings.

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