Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Fri, September 29, 2017 10:40:28
WHO KILLED LORCA? AND WHY? AND WHERE DID
THEY DUMP THE BODY?
Shortly after the nationalist uprising
against the democratic republic of Spain on 18 July 1936, the poet Federico García
Lorca was seized by the local authorities and disappeared. He was taken to the
nearby village of Víznar and shot. This killing was one among many and, as in
many of the other cases, the circumstances around it are still unclear after
eighty years, largely because the people involved refused to talk, lied, or
forgot. Yet, Miguel Caballero Pérez seems confident to know the definitive
answers to these unanswered questions as the bold title of his investigation
findings Las trece últimas horas en la
vida de García Lorca (The Last Thirteen Hours in the Life of Garcia Lorca),
published in 2011, would suggest.
His thesis is that there was ‘una
concatenación de causas’ (p25; note 1), a whole constellation of interrelated
causes, which, he insists, had their origin not in political differences but in
inter-family and internecine disputes and rivalries that had festered over half
a century. Lorca, himself, was unpolitical, he reminds us, with a circle of
friends from a wide social and political spectrum. Having demonstrated the
poet’s political neutrality, Caballero concludes that the real causes of his
death (p27) need to be looked for on the Vega of Granada, where the economic
and local political conflicts between his and rival families were played out.
Indeed, Granada-based composer and family
friend Manuel de Falla is on record as saying Lorca's death was an act of
personal revenge; he knew who was responsible, but his conscience forbade him
me from revealing names. (2) Local flamenco artist, Rafael Amargo, was less
discrete and happy to put it this bluntly: ‘Everyone knows it was his cousin
who did it’.(3)
This is broadly speaking Caballero`s view,
too. The main villain of the piece turns out to be cousin Horacio, son of
Alejandro Roldán Benavides (p30), contemporary and rival of Lorca’s father,
Federico García Rodriguez. Horacio had reason enough to believe his own
prospects in life had been obstructed by advantages that their father had
secured for his sons, Federico and Francisco, at his expense. Roldán Benavides
had suffered socially and economically at the hands of Lorca’s father, being
outmanoeuvred and outwitted in economic and business affairs time and again
going back to the 1880s. Caballero points to how three important families
rooted in Valderrubio (then Asquerosa) competed for economic supremacy and the
expansion of the land they exploited, often involving complicated patterns of
inter-marriage. The third of these families was the Alba family, famous for
being a sort of model for Lorca’s late work La
casa de Bernarda Alba, first published and performed years after the poet’s
death but known among relevant sections of the local bourgeoisie though a
public reading just a few days prior to the nationalist coup (p32). Not only
was Bernarda supposedly recognisably based on Frasquita Alba, who had in fact
died many years before the play was written, the character Pepe el Romano,
secret suitor to two of the Alba daughters, was said to be modelled on José
Benavides Peña, Horacio Roldán’s uncle, who was still very much alive.
José Benavides, along with nephew, Horacio,
were two of the gang of men from Asquerosa on the Vega of Granada who turned up
at the Huerta de San Vicente, the summer home where the poet’s family were
intending to spend a couple of peaceful months together, accusing their
housekeeper Gabriel Perea Ruiz of being involved in the killing of two local
men on 20 July, possibly in skirmishes related to the uprising. This unwelcome
visit occurred on 9 August and led to Lorca seeking refuge in the house of the
Falange-supporting Rosales family, from where he was seized and disappeared a
week later. Caballero makes the point that housekeeper Perea, having been
carted off or questioning, was then promptly set free, having had nothing to do
with crime; this episode at the Huerta was in all likelihood a show of strength
put on for Lorca and his father.
Anyway, this episode at the Huerta gave a
hint of what was to come; it was the first step in a chain of events that ended
with Lorca facing a firing squad on the roadside outside the village of Víznar
a week later.
So was then the poet’s death the
consequence of family feuding, with little direct connection to the political
landscape? Caballero’s detailed, minutious investigation contradicts his own thesis
at almost every step. The political motivation of the identified actors comes
across clearly on every page. For the truth of the matter is that, although Lorca constantly claimed
to be unpolitical and would have liked to be everybody’s friend, his fame and
his artistic success were inextricably tied up with the progressive forces of
the Republic. As his brother Francisco said: ‘The atmosphere immediately
preceding the Civil War had politicised all of Spain in one direction or the
other. You had to take a stand and my brother Federico's, standpoint was very
clear’, and he lists the evidence of Lorca’s commitment to the aims and ideas
of the liberal Republic. (4)
So even if he didn’t want to be, Lorca was
seen by the conservative nationalists as a ‘red’ (= communist), as was
virtually anyone who did not subscribe to their reactionary views. And, while denying the poet’s political engagement, Caballero does concede
that he did enjoy many of the freedoms offered by republican democracy, - and only
by republican democracy, one might add.
numbers refer to Las trece últimas horas en la vida de García Lorca
, published in 2011 by La Esfera de los
Guarnido, Federico García Lorca y su mundo (Buenos Aires: Losada, 1958),
in the documentary Lorca. El mar déjà de
moverse.2006. Directed by Emilio R.
Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Fri, June 09, 2017 19:10:27
Lorca fought with some determination to
establish himself as a poet and found himself frustrated in his mid-twenties
when his play Mariana Pineda ran into
trouble with Primo de Rivero’s censorship. The end of the summer 1926 finds Lorca
at an impasse. His father is angry with him for what he sees as the lack of
direction in his son’s life, with little apparent promise of any artistic
success. He threatens to put an end to his idle versifying. “Summer is coming
to an end and I’m left stranded without the least sign of any start to my work
as a dramatic poet in which I have so much faith and which would bring me such happiness,”
he writes to the theatre empresario Eduardo Marquina in the hope that this man might
yet rescue Mariana Pineda for him.
Such is his desperation that he begins to toy
with the idea of getting a proper job. At the beginning of September, he writes
to his friend Jorge Guillén that he has decided to do the exams for the Chair
of Literature. He tries hard to convince himself that he has a vocation for the
academic life. "Tell me what I have to do,” he asks Guillén, who has just
been appointed to the Chair of Literature in Murcia. “Remember I'm neither
intelligent nor hard-working. A lazy-bones!"
Guillén’s good humoured and humorous reply
seems to be designed to put the aspiring poet off from embarking on any
academic career. “First, you must read a lot”, he says. “Not only poetry and
prose, but also all the books that have been written about those poetry and
prose works. And you must make notes of what you have read.” “But that’s not half so bad,” he continues,
“for then you need to keep a file so that you can find all the notes that you
have written. As a first step, buy a box to file your notes. That will impress
your father no end and show him you are serious about your new academic bent.”
Salvador Dalí, for his part, is equally
scathing about his friend’s new-found academic ambition. “Dear Federico, you’re
not going to do exams for anything,” (he
wrote laconically). “Persuade your father to leave you in peace to publish your
books, that is what will make you famous ... “
were to be performed, I would win over my father once and for all,” Lorca
predicted. And indeed he was right. The success of Mariana Pineda, when it was performed in Barcelona in June 1927,
combined with the publication of Canciones
also in 1927, and then followed by the extraordinary success of the First Gypsy Ballad Book, published in
1928, marked the literary break-through Lorca was seeking and after that
parental pressure let up. Lorca’s father came to accept his son's literary
vocation, and the poet was spared further traumas of having to look for a
Final note: As with other books published in
his lifetime, Lorca gave all his friends and family copies of The Gypsy Ballad Book with a dedication
inside the front cover. In the copy he gave to his parents, and only in theirs,
he added in brackets after his signature the word “poet”, a telling gesture,
asserting his finally achieved independence as a creative writer.
The Lorca PrizePosted by Simon Fri, June 09, 2017 18:58:43
The other night I was at the Lorca Centre to
attend the prize-giving ceremony for the City of Granada-Federico García Lorca
International Prize for Poetry, to give it its full title. The winner was a
Uruguayan poet called Ida Vitale, at 93 the oldest award winner yet, a close contemporary
of Mario Benedetti (1920-2009).
Choosing such an old woman might have seemed
like a bit of a risk if it were not for the obvious vitality of the prize-winner.
For the Prize organisers consider it absolutely crucial that the poet selected
for the award be present at the official ceremony. This is because the whole
occasion is set up to promote the city culturally, so when Blanca Varela
(winner in 2006) was too unwell to attend, they decided henceforth to withhold
the quite considerable prize money in the case of the winner not coming to
collect it. Indeed, in 2011, the Cuban poet Fina García Marruz, aged 88 at the
time, was also not well enough to attend, so I wonder if she had to forgo the
cash prize? Sounds a bit hard, doesn’t it?
average age of the prize-winning poets is now well over 80. This is because the
Lorca Prize is expressly awarded in recognition of a poet’s entire life’s work.
The idea is that the occasion will be of mutual benefit to both city and poet,
in that on the one hand the poet’s established reputation is further enhanced
by being associated with the city that was home to Andalusia’s greatest twentieth
century poet (?), while the city is allowed to bask for a while in the fame and
glory of that particular year’s prize-winner.
The City of Granada-Federico García Lorca
International Prize for Poetry is a subject I have blogged on on a number of
occasions previously, though not since September 2015. I have commented
primarily on the advanced age of the award winners and secondly on the
delicately maintained balance between Spanish and Latin American poets. Indeed,
if we count Tomas Segovia as half Mexican and half Spanish (he was born in
Valencia), six-and-a-half of the winners have been from the Iberian peninsula
and six-and-a-half from America.
Another common denominator is winning the Reina
Sofia before or after the Lorca. I think nine of the thirteen Lorcas have won
both. While not wanting to talk of a ‘copycat’ syndrome, there is no doubt that
the two prizes are fishing in the same waters.
lastly, before Ida Vitale, only three of the winners had been lady poets. Member
of council for culture Rosa Aguilar made use of her place on the podium to
criticise this fact. The award going to Vitale is recognition of the value of
poetry made by women, something said counsellor is keen to promote.
While not denying the great contribution made
by these prestigious winners of a prestigious prize, I have to express some
regret that the Lorca Prize is not granted in a rather more adventurous spirit.
Thinking of the struggle it took Lorca to establish himself as a poet and win
economic independence to pursue his chosen vocation, the idea of a Poetry Prize
named after him seems like a good one. Lorca came close at one time to giving
up and knuckling under, tempted to apply for a proper job to please his
exasperated father, who saw no future in his son’s poetic bent and lack of conventional
professional ambition. (See my following post.) A little formal recognition at
the beginning of his literary career in the form of a cash award would have
helped him on his way and relieved him of some years’ anxiety and freed him
from an at times humiliating dependence on his father.
The City of Granada International Poetry
Prize, however, is not that kind of award. Worth 30,000 Euros (reduced from
50,000 when times got hard and money short during the Crisis), the city is not
interested in taking risks and seeks its winners exclusively among well
established poets who in return for the dosh can lend the city something of
their achieved acclaim and glory.
granadaPosted by Simon Wed, May 31, 2017 13:40:19
A number of my posts on Granada have been
prompted by a passage from Paraíso
cerrado para muchos, jardines abiertos para pocos (Paradise closed to the
many, gardens open to the few) in which Lorca discusses what he sees as the
essential indigenous aesthetic of the city. I quote, selectively:
Granada ( he says) is a city of leisure, a
city for contemplation and imagination, a city where a person in love writes
the name of his loved one in the earth better than anywhere else in the world.
Time stands still in Granada. The hours are longer and more enjoyable. There is
no reason to hurry. Let the city feed your imagination, and your senses.
You may say that these conditions are ideal
for philosophers. But philosophy, Lorca counters, requires discipline and
intellectual rigour and consistency and mathematical balance, things which are
difficult to find in Granada. Granada nourishes dreams and day-dreaming,
bordering on the mystical/things that are difficult to put into words.
Besides, there is a big and important difference between dreaming
and thinking, says Lorca. Granada is full of initiatives, but what it
lacks is decision.
Elsewhere, I think it is Lorca who writes
that two and two never get to equal four in Granada, but remain two-and-two
forever, a never realised potential.
Examples of this suggested difficulty in
turning dreams into reality that Lorca suggests is an essential granadino trait have been a constant
theme of my observations during the time I have spent in the city's thrall: the delays in infrastructure projects such as the Metro and
the Ave (High-Speed Train); the limited success of the supposedly international
airport that bears the poet’s name; the city’s irregular development as a
tourist destination; bringing Lorca’s physical legacy from the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid to Granada;
and the inauguration of the Lorca Centre which was built to house this legacy.
And last but not least, the localisation of the poet’s unmarked grave. (He was
disappeared at the outset of the Civil War in 1936.)
All this I hope to be dealing with in the
coming weeks or months.
For those who read Spanish, I am copying
here the relevant extract from Paraíso
cerrado para muchos, jardines abiertos para pocos.
Granada es una
ciudad de ocio, una ciudad para la contemplación y la fantasia, una ciudad
donde el enamorado escribe mejor que en ninguna otra parte el nombre de su amor
en el suelo. Las horas son allí más largas y sabrosas que en ninguna ciudad de
España. Tiene crepúsculas complicados de luces constantemente inéditas que
parece no terminan nunca. Sostenemos con los amigos largas conversaciones en
medio de sus calles. (81) Vive con la fantasia. Está llena de iniciativas, pero
falta de acción. Solo en una ciudad de ocios y tranquilidades puede haber
exquisitos catadores de aguas, de temperaturas y de crepúsculos, como los hay
en Granada. El granadino está rodeado de la naturaleza más espléndida, pero no
va a ella. Los paisajes son extraordinarios, pero el granadino prefiere
mirarlas desde su ventana. (...) Es hombre de pocos amigos. (No es proverbial
en Andalucía la reserve de Granada?) De esta manera mira y se fija amorosamente
en los objetos que lo rodean. Además no tiene prisa. (...) Se me puede decir
que éstas son las condiciones más aptas para producirse una filosofía. Pero una
filosofía necesita una disciplina y un esfuerzo de dolor querido, necesita una
constancia y un equilibrio matemático bastante difícil en Granada. Granada es
apta para el sueño y el ensueño. Por todas partes limita con lo inefable. Y
haymucha diferencia entre sonar y pensar, aunque las actitudes sean gemelas.
completas III. Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de
Lectores. 1997. Pp 81/82.
Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Mon, February 20, 2017 14:13:05
Of all the projects that have been undertaken in Granada but failed to
come to fruition in the many years I have been living here, probably the most astonishing
of them all has been the unsuccessful search for the remains of the poet
Federico Lorca, murdered outside Viznar, a village just to the north of the
city, in August 1936, shortly after Franco’s nationalist uprising against the
Second Republic started. In the ‘Fable of the Three Friends’ in the Poet in New York collection Lorca famously
I realised they had murdered me.
They searched through the cafés, the cemeteries, and the churches,
they opened barrels and cupboards,
they destroyed three skeletons to tear out their gold teeth.
But they didn't find me.
They didn't find me?
No. They didn't find me.
The latest systematic search ended on 20 October last year, 2016, when the
lead being followed by Miguel Caballero and Javier Navarro drew a blank. They
have recently presented a report on their failure to the authorities and to the
Although the findings of
the search are inconclusive, the evidence, circumstantial as it is, strongly
suggests that the poet was shot and buried at the site indicated by Eduardo
Molina Fajardo’s account – Los últimos días de Garcá Lorca (Lorca’s LastDays)
published in 1983 - but then his body was dug up shortly afterwards and
reburied elsewhere. This hypothesis corresponds with what Antonio Gallego Burín
told Emilia Lanos and she told Agustín Penón in the mid-50s: the shock waves
caused by Lorca’s murder were such that his remains were secretly moved to a
mass grave nearby to make it harder for them to be found and identified.
Caballero and Navarro’s investigations conclude that Lorca was indeed
killed at the Peñón del Colorado, on 17 or 18 August, and
buried along with fellow victims schoolteacher Dióscoro Galindo and
bullfighters Francisco Galadí and Joaquín Arcollas. Later all four bodies were
transferred to the mass grave at Víznar which was opened a few weeks after
their death. To throw further light on the matter it is vital that the police
report on Lorca’s death drawn up by José Mingorance on Franco’s behest be
found, says Caballero.
G. Cappa. Granada Hoy, 16 Febrero, 2017 http://www.granadahoy.com/granada/excavacion-lorquiana-Gallego-Burin-traslado_0_1109589350.html
And I'm not here, either!
MetroPosted by Simon Mon, February 13, 2017 04:03:16
inauguration of the Metro in Granada for March this year (see post 55, 2 Feb 17), - it looks as if it’s
going to happen, but in a scaled-down form. That is, like the High Speed AVE
was reduced to a Low Speed version, and then a No Speed service (see post 54, 30 Jan 17), at least for
2017, the Metro it appears is going to be introduced as a trial service at
first, running from just 9am to 3pm, and that with only one train an hour. A
further delay in the full inauguration to autumn or beyond the end of the year
is not inconceivable.
If you think
that’s bad enough, better not look at the cost, which has risen so far from an
initial budget of 260m to over 558m euros. This might suggest that those
responsible for calculating the costs are incredibly dim, or something funny is
going on. We know who’s paying for all this, but do we know who’s profiting?
is from Antonio Cambril’s opinion piece in Granada Hoy, 12 Feb 2017 (Calendario flamenco). I have left out
the scorn he pours on the political parties, as I take that for given. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Lorca CentrePosted by Simon Sun, February 05, 2017 20:10:02
inauguration of the Lorca Centre was planned with great pomp and ceremony for
2011. A fantastic programme was announced, which I don’t like to think about
now. Have a look, for example, at #post16, dated 30 Jan 2011. The
declared aim was to make the Centre ‘one of the most important cultural assets’
in Spain with ‘a programme of activities of international relevance’.
Thanks to the fraudulent actions of Juan
Tomás, it was not to be. (See previous #post57.) When the Centre
was finally opened in 2015, it was a low-key affair without pomp, without
ceremony, and without the legacy.
the meantime, it has organised some quite interesting events, of which I would
like to mention a couple I have attended.
27 October to 15 December 2016 they ran a Silent Movie Cycle. I managed to get
to see for my first time Carl Theodor Dreyer’s La passion de Jeanne d’Arc of 1928, with live piano accompaniment
by Jose Ignacio Hernandez. Brilliant! This was originally shown at the Residencia de Estudiantes Film Club, its
third and final session, on 14 December 1928.
missed Le Chien Andalou (1929) which
I’ve seen a couple of times anyway. But it was on in a double bill with Jean
Renoir’s 1924 film La fille de l’eau.
I have loved the Renoir films that I have seen and would have liked to have
seen this one.
did see the Charlie Chaplin double bill The Immigrant (1917) and The Gold Rush
(1925) which both lived up to their reputation. This was part of the sixth
session of the Spanish Film Club, shown at the Goya Cinema on 4 May 1929.
Tuesday 7 February I’m going to see a showing of Omega
, a documentary about the making of the album of the same name
recorded in 1996 by flamenco singer Enrique Morente and the local rock band
Lagartija Nick featuring songs and poems by Lorca and Leonard Cohen with an
amazing supporting line-up of musicians. The album is a milestone in the
history of the fusion of flamenco and rock. It looks very promising.
The Lorca CentrePosted by Simon Sun, February 05, 2017 15:39:53
We have talked
about the Granada Metro, the AVE (high-speed train), and the international
airport as fairly ambitious projects that are taking rather a long time to realise.
What we haven’t discussed is the time it’s taking for Lorca’s ‘Legacy’ to
arrive in his native city. Lorca’s Legacy refers to an archive consisting of over
2,000 sheets of original manuscripts, thousands of other documents, original
drawings, musical scores and photographs, all of them relating to the poet’s
work and life. This archive has been until now safely looked after at the Residencia
de Estudiantes in Madrid.
This archive, we
are assured, will be transferred from Madrid to the purpose-built Lorca Centre
in time for the 119th anniversary of the poet’s birth on 5 June 2017.
last time I referred to the Lorca Centre was on 24 October 2013,
#post41, when I reported: ‘The workmen have moved in. To finish the job.
It's actually happening.’ An agreement had finally been reached between the
State (Spain), the Autonomous Region (Andalusia), the City of Granada, and the Province
as to how to finance the 4.5 million euros overspent above and beyond the original
budget. These additional costs, we were told, corresponded to ‘unforeseen
expenses’ which arose during the execution of the work between 2007 and 2013.
million euro deficit that delayed the opening of the Centre for such a long
time corresponds pretty exactly to the amount that was embezzled by the Lorca
Foundation’s secretary Juan Tomás Martín, who had been entrusted to handle the
finances by the president, Laura García, the poet’s neice, daughter of brother
might say that it was because of this Juan Tomás that the inauguration of the
Centre was delayed from 2008 till 2015.
Pictures: con-man and victim
Does it bode
well for the transfer of Lorca’s Legacy from the Residence of Students in
Madrid where they have remained safe since 1986 to the Lorca Centre in
Granada where corruPSOE crooks like Juan Tomás are on the lookout to take
advantage of the gullible to fill their own pockets? My gut
feeling is: leave it there, where it has been safe for so long. I cannot say I feel
overconfident about this invaluable legacy being held in what still seems to be
the land of the ‘chavico’.
Ángles Peñalver Ideal Granada 4 Mar 2016; R. G. Sevilla, Granada Hoy 18 Jan 2017