Authors: Federico García Lorca

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Last reviewed: June 2017

Spanish poet, playwright, and theater director.

June 5, 1898

Fuente Vaqueros, Spain

August 19, 1936

near Alfacar, Spain


Due at least in part to his death at the hands of the Falangists in the early days of the Spanish Civil War but more importantly because of his literary achievements, Federico García Lorca has come to be regarded as one of the most outstanding Spanish poets of the modern period. He was educated at the University of Granada, where he studied law and literature. By 1919 he had settled in Madrid, and by 1927 had become well known as a poet through his Libro de poemas (1921; Book of Poems, partial, 2004) and Canciones (1927; Songs, 1976). In 1929 he spent a year in New York, where he became intrigued by Harlem and the life of African Americans there, an experience that greatly affected some of his later work. Upon returning to Spain, he turned his attention to drama, writing plays and directing a traveling theater. In August 1936, by a road near the town of Alfacar, he was shot by the adherents of Francisco Franco, apparently on the order of the authorities in Granada. So great was the esteem in which García Lorca was held outside his native country that it has been claimed that his murder, more than any other act of Franco’s government, lost it much of the sympathy of the Spanish-speaking world.

The admirers of García Lorca’s poetry have particularly stressed the beauty and the originality of his metaphorical language. The poet himself told of his delight in the spontaneous metaphors of the peasants of his province—metaphors drawn from nature as experienced by the peasant. His writing also expressed his love for Spanish folk songs. The influences of folk speech and folk poetry are evident in his verse, modernized by the poet’s deliberate effort to revivify language by seeking new and startling images. The similes are derived through the physical senses; they are “realistic” yet often strained, as though the poet were pushing language to its limits. This technique is characteristic of much modern verse, but García Lorca’s work differs in the degree to which his images spring from the violence and tragedy in the lives of the Spanish peasants and gitanos (Spanish Romani). There is peasant naïveté (the Archangel Gabriel is described as wearing an embroidered jacket and patent-leather shoes), and yet there is an astonishing preoccupation with blood and horror. In this respect, García Lorca’s verse represents a reaction against the highly intellectual poetry of the previous thirty years.

Closeup cutout from Image:Garcialorca madrid lou



By DionysosProteus (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The plays he wrote contain this same deliberate primitivism. The obvious comparison here is with Irish dramatist and poet John Millington Synge, as both sought to break away from nineteenth century realism and to restore poetic tragedy by returning to the life of the peasant. However interesting it may be, Bodas de sangre (1933; Blood Wedding, 1939) nevertheless falls short of great tragedy because the characters are not sufficiently individualized. Still, the drama contains the same strange yet hauntingly beautiful language as do the poems.

Author Works Poetry: Libro de poemas, 1921 (Book of Poems, partial selection, 2004 Canciones, 1921–1924, 1927 (Songs, 1976) Romancero gitano, 1924–1927, 1928 (The Gypsy Ballads of García Lorca, 1951, 1953) Poema del cante jondo, 1931 (Poem of the Gypsy Seguidilla, 1967) Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías, 1935 (Lament for the Death of a Bullfighter, 1937, 1939) Primeras canciones, 1936 Poeta en Nueva York, 1940 (Poet in New York, 1940, 1955) Diván del Tamarit, 1940 (The Divan at the Tamarit, 1944) Drama: El maleficio de la mariposa, pr. 1920 (The Butterfly’s Evil Spell, 1963) Mariana Pineda, pr. 1927 (English translation, 1950) Los títeres de Cachiporra: La tragicomedia de don Cristóbal y la señá Rosita, wr. 1928, pr. 1937 (The Tragicomedy of Don Cristóbal and Doña Rosita, 1955) El paseo de Buster Keaton, pb. 1928 (Buster Keaton’s Promenade, 1957) La doncella, el marinero y el estudiante, pb. 1928 (The Virgin, the Sailor, and the Student, 1957) Quimera, wr. 1928, pb. 1938 (Chimera, 1944) El público, wr. 1930, pb. 1976 (fragment; The Audience, 1958) La zapatera prodigiosa, pr. 1930 (The Shoemaker’s Prodigious Wife, 1941) Así que pasen cinco años, wr. 1931, pb. 1937 (When Five Years Pass, 1941) El amor de don Perlimplín con Belisa en su jardín, pr. 1933 (The Love of Don Perlimplín for Belisa in His Garden, 1941) Bodas de sangre, pr. 1933 (Blood Wedding, 1939) Yerma, pr. 1934 (English translation, 1941) Doña Rosita la soltera o el lenguaje de las flores, pr. 1935 (Doña Rosita the Spinster; or, The Language of the Flowers, 1941) El retablillo de don Cristóbal, pr. 1935 (In the Frame of Don Cristóbal, 1944) La casa de Bernarda Alba,wr. 1936, pr., pb. 1945 (The House of Bernarda Alba, 1947) Nonfiction: Impresiones y paisajes, 1918 Miscellaneous: Obras completas, 1938–46 (8 volumes) Bibliography Allen, Rupert C. The Symbolic World of Federico García Lorca. U of New Mexico P, 1972. Focuses on García Lorca’s work from the point of view of relationships to modern (particularly Jungian) psychological theory and symbology. Anderson, Reed. Federico García Lorca. Grove Press, 1984. Focuses on García Lorca’s dramatic art. Includes a fine overview of García Lorca’s relationship to Spanish literature in general and insightful discussions of the early as well as the mature dramas. Binding, Paul. Lorca: The Gay Imagination. GMP Publishers, 1985. Focuses on García Lorca’s work as informed by his sexuality. Bonaddio, Federico, editor. A Companion to Federico García Lorca. Tamesis, 2007. A critical look at García Lorca’s works, including his poetry, novels, screenplays, music, and drawings. Essays offer discussions of gender, religion, sexuality, and politics, as well as a study of the critical perceptions of García Lorca. Campbell, Roy. Lorca: An Appreciation of His Poetry. 1952. Haskell House Publishers, 1970. Concisely traces the growth of García Lorca’s poetic genius from his early regional works to his final publications. Includes long passages of the poetry in translation. Cobb, Carl W. Federico García Lorca. Twayne Publishers, 1967. A chronological study of the poetry and drama, containing good readings of the poetry and drama as well as discussions of biographical and personal matters that influenced García Lorca’s work and career. Includes a summary chapter highlighting García Lorca’s influence on other writers. Cueto, Ronald. Souls in Anguish: Religion and Spirituality in Lorca’s Theatre. Trinity and All Saints, U of Leeds, 1994. A look at the function of religion and spirituality in the plays of García Lorca. Bibliography. Edwards, Gwynne. Lorca: The Theatre beneath the Sand. Marion Boyars, 1980. A solid study examining García Lorca’s career as a dramatist that provides literary readings and conveys a sense of the performances of the dramas. Most chapters include details of performance histories. García Lorca, Francisco. In the Green Morning: Memories of Federico. Translated by Christopher Maurer, prologue by Mario Hernández., New Directions, 1986. A reminiscence by García Lorca’s brother, covering the brothers’ early life and influences as well as García Lorca’s engagement with the theater and dramatic art. Gibson, Ian. Federico García Lorca: A Life. New York: Pantheon Books, 1989. A monumental biography that meticulously reconstructs the poet’s periods in New York, Havana, and Buenos Aires and vividly re-creates the café life of Spain in the 1930s and the artistic talents that were nurtured there. Evokes the landscapes of Granada, Almeria, Cuba, and Argentina celebrated in the poetry. Johnston, David. Federico García Lorca. Absolute Press, 1998. Asserts that García Lorca was more concerned with deconstructing, rather than celebrating, the essentials of Spain’s culture of difference. Claims that the poet’s most radical ultimate intention was the deconstruction of a civilization and the redefinition of the individual’s right to be, not through the language of ethics or of the law but in terms of a natural imperative. Kiosses, James T. The Dynamics of the Imagery in the Theater of Federico García Lorca. UP of America, 1999. Examines the symbolism and imagery in the dramatic works of García Lorca. Bibliography and index. Morris, C. Brian. Son of Andalusia: The Lyrical Landscapes of Federico García Lorca. Vanderbilt UP, 1997. Identifies the presence of Andalusian legends, traditions, songs, and beliefs in García Lorca’s life and works. Newton, Candelas. Understanding Federico García Lorca. U of South Carolina P, 1995. Contains chapters on García Lorca’s major and lesser-known plays. Bibliography and index. Smith, Paul Julian. The Theatre of García Lorca: Text, Performance, Psychoanalysis. Cambridge UP, 1998. A critical analysis of the works of García Lorca that focuses on his plays, particularly their stage history. Bibliography and index. Soufas, C. Christopher. Audience and Authority in the Modernist Theater of Federico García Lorca. U of Alabama P, 1996. A systematic study of all García Lorca’s finished plays and provisional sketches presented in chronological order with attention to their effect on the viewing public. Relates Lorca’s work to that of other avant-garde dramatists of the 1920s and 1930s. Stainton, Leslie. Lorca, a Dream of Life. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999. Focuses on García Lorca’s homosexuality, his left-wing political views, and his artistic convictions. Stainton’s detailed account is strictly chronological. García Lorca’s work is described but not analyzed. Wright, Sarah. The Trickster-Function in the Theatre of García Lorca. Tamesis, 2000. An examination of the role of the trickster in the dramatic works of García Lorca. Bibliography and index.

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