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Federico García Lorca

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In Search of Duende by García Lorca
New Directions

García Lorca’s life:

Federico García Lorca was the son of a well-to-do farmer, born in a village outside the Moorish city of Granada in 1899. He studied music and law in Madrid, and was a talented visual artist as well as poet and playwright. He was a part of the avant-garde of the 1920s, knew Buñuel and Dali, spent 1929-1930 in New York City, travelled to Cuba and then returned to Spain. During the last ten years of his life, Lorca kept a summer house in Granada, where he wrote most of his major works. He was arrested and murdered by Nationalist soldiers near there, at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in 1936.

García Lorca’s poetry:

Passion, pride, love and tragedy are the markers of Federico García Lorca’s work, in which folk themes and fables combine with a modernist sensibility of despair and the depth of soul or heart that is known as duende. Anguish and exaltation, the lyric “I” exclaiming, odes to Salvador Dali, Walt Whitman and the holy sacrament, love sonnets of the most exquisite beauty and suffering addressed to his homosexual lover... these are the poems of a young genius who was not allowed to grow old.

García Lorca’s plays:

García Lorca was an avant-gardist in drama also. He eschewed the commercial theater, made use of folk mythologies and technical experimentation, and founded a traveling theatrical troupe that brought plays to people outside the major cities of Spain. His best-known plays are Blood Wedding (1933) and The House of Bernarda Alba (1940).

Books by García Lorca (in translation):

The poems, always the poems, and then move on to his plays and essays, especially “Play and Theory of the Duende,” in which Lorca evokes and explains the poetic magic Emily Dickinson was speaking of when she said a poem lifted the top of her head off.
  • Collected Poems: A Bilingual Edition (ed. Christopher Maurer, trans. Angela Jaffray, Robert Nasatir, Jerome Rothenberg, Galway Kinnell, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2002)
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  • Selected Poems (ed. Donald M. Allen, many translators, New Directions, first published in 1988, reissued with an introduction by W.S. Merwin in 2005)
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  • Poet in New York (bilingual edition, ed. Christopher Maurer, Noonday press, 1998)
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  • The Cricket Sings: Poems and Songs for Children (New Directions, 1980)
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  • Three Plays: Blood Wedding/Yerma/the House of Bernarda Alba (trans. Michael Dewell/Carmen Zapata, Noonday Press, 1993)
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  • In Search of Duende (essays, speeches and bilingual poems, trans. including Stephen Spender, Edwin Honig, New Directions, 1998, 2nd edition 2010)
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