Federico Garcia Lorca
Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion
Medium: Literature, Theater
Artist: Federico Garcia Lorca
Confronting Bodies: Franco regime
Dates of Action: 1936, 1944, 1945
Description of Artwork: Garcia Lorca is one of the premier literary figures, not only in Spain, but throughout the world. His work consists of various novels, short stories, and poetry as well as painting and drawing. Lorca's poetry and plays combine "elements of Andalusion folklore with sophisticated and often surrealistic poetic techniques, cut across all social and educational barriers". Works include: Thus Five Years Pass, The Public, Dona Rosita. He is toted to have succeeded in the creation of a viable poetic idiom for the stage, superior to the works of his contemporaries, Yeats, Eliot and Claudel.
The Incident: "August 19, 1936, Falangist soldiers dragged the Spanish poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca into a field, shot him and tossed his body into an unmarked grave... Franco's government tried to obliterate Lorca's memory. His books were prohibited, his name forbidden." Though it is known that the order was given by Ramon Ruiz Alonso, under whose command he was acting remains a mystery. Lorca was accused of subversive activity, however evidence today suggests that it was a hate crime in response to his homosexuality. His works were anti-fascist and seen as obscene by the fascist party and Franco. His work was largely censored during the years that Franco was in power.
In 1944 a production in the Canary Islands of the play Bodas de Sangre (Blood Wedding) was not permitted.
In 1945 a proposed production of one of Lorca's other plays was prohibited for fear of "public disturbance".
Results of Incident: "One of the first and most famous casualties of the Spanish Civil War, Lorca quickly became an almost mythical figure, a symbol of all the victims of political oppression and fascist tyranny." His books were printed in Spanish only outside of Spain, in Argentina and the United States. As time went on however, even Franco and the fascists came to be more accepting of Lorca's work and some private performances of his plays were permitted. People began speaking publicly about Lorca again in the late 1940's, and The House of Barnardo Alba was the first of his plays to be produced in Spain (1950), since his death and since the end of the war. Though foreign influence helped to loosen the Franco regimes control over Lorca's work, bans were still placed as late as 1971. Due to public outcry however, Lorca's work was produced. His entire body of work remained censored until Franco's death in 1975. This did not, however, prevent him from becoming one of the most widely read writers in the world.
"Lorca's reconquest of the Spanish public, and his growing prestige among scholars is a relatively recent phenomenon. When his works began to recirculate freely, many people who knew only the Gypsy Ballads and two or three of the more popular plays considered Lorca a poet of limited interest and local color.
"When his later poetry and experimental plays such as The Public came to be better known and understood, attitudes changed. 'Today,' observed Jose Luis Cano, a literary critic and biographer of Lorca, 'Lorca's reputation and popularity have soared, and they are based primarily on Poet in New York, Lorca's harrowing account of the year he spent in America. It is now recognized as one of the great monuments of 20th-century poetry'."
Source: Kiki Haralambides