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News and comments and events relating to Granada, 'the city where anything is possible, Granada, 'la bella y la bestia, and Federico Garcia Lorca's complicated love-hate relationship with the city, etc

Emilia Llanos Medina

Historic GranadaPosted by Simon Fri, January 25, 2019 17:32:15
At the end of calle Elvira where it joins Plaza Nueva, on the second floor, the last four windows in calle Elvira and the first three in Plaza Nueva, was the home of Emilia Llanos Medina, a life-long and intimate friend of poet Federico García Lorca. She was quite a lot older than him, born in 1885, and they were introduced by the painter Ismael de la Serna at the end of August 1918. Lorca was very impressed by Emilia Llanos, as de la Serna expected him to be. He gave her a copy of his first book Impressions and Landscapes (for which de la Serna had done the cover) and dated it 29th August 1918 with the dedication "To the marvellous Emilia Llanos, spiritual treasure among the women of Granada; divine emblem of the 20th Century; with all my fervour and admiration.” - - The marvellous Emilia Llanos

From then on, Lorca was a frequent visitor to this flat, Dolores Cebrián, Emilia's maid, informs us. He came and went with a degree of familiarity; it was a sort of home from home for him.

Llanos maintained a life-long friendship with Ismael de la Serna, mostly by correspondence, as the painter spent most of the 20s and 30s in Paris. She was also a close friend of Manuel de Falla's, and of his sister Carmen.

On one occasion, Falla urged Emilia to use her influence to persuade Lorca to break off his contact with a certain ‘wretched group of young men’ whose company he was known to enjoy. He was of course referring to a certain section of the city’s semi-submerged homosexual milieu. It was her duty as a friend, he argued, to lead the poet onto the path of righteousness. Emilia’s response was indeed marvellous. “Federico is a wonderful person and we should love him as he is, with his virtues and with his defects.” It wasn't for them to judge him.

Who did judge him were the gentlemen of the Tribunal of Political Responsibilites who in July 1941 reached the verdict that Lorca’s public life had been ‘questionable’ (dudosa) and that he had been ‘free’ in his choice of friendships (amistades libres). He was assumed to be a homosexual, although for obvious reasons it was impossible to present concrete evidence for this assertion.

17 August 1936, the day after the poet’s arrest: his mother begged Emilia to go and ask Falla to intervene on her son's behalf, as his life was clearly in danger. Emilia set off but in the Cuesta de Gomérez she met Antonio Gallego Burín, who advised her: "Don't go, don't go. Federico is already dead. You'll only get Falla into trouble." "I swear," relates Emilia, "that if I had suspected there was a chance that Federico was still alive I would have gone myself, on my own, to the Civil Government." (Evidence suggests Lorca was held overnight in the Civil Government building in calle Duquesa before being transferred to Víznar.) When later Emilia told this to Falla, he made an enormous scene. "He made me cry. Your duty was to have come immediately with the message, no matter what anyone told you." The day after news of Lorca's death got out, she went to a friend's house (Cristina Gómez Contreras), terribly upset, pale, and crying bitterly.

She never got over the death of the poet, for whom she harboured intense feelings of affection all her life. She was also convinced that she had not done enough among her influential social contacts to prevent it. In the last years of her life she talked to him as if he were present, on one of his once customary visits, and would insist a place was laid out for ‘the boy’ at mealtimes. She died on 29 August at the age of 82.

Leer más, en español: Lola Manjón. Emilia Llanos Medina. Una mujer en la Granada de Federico García Lorca. Comares 2017.
To my charming Emilia Llanos . With affection and admiration from your devoted Federico 1931

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