The Lorca landscape

 

The Spanish Civil War still retains a grip on the popular imagination, despite its political complexities,  because of the artists associated with it. Orwell, Hemingway, Auden, Picasso and, a rather different  figure, Lorca.

Federico Garcia Lorca’s plays are romantic and sensual, with female characters who are attempting to break out from restrictions  imposed by family and tradition.  Yerma yearns for a child and kills the husband who refuses to co-operate with her desire. In The House of Bernarda Alba the youngest daughter Adela seeks her own destiny rather than that imposed by parental instruction and social custom. In Blood Wedding the Bride is drawn to her previous lover Leonardo, whose family has caused violence in the community before.  In Lorca’s plays the Catholic Church and the Spanish countryside are often equally powerful forces.

At first glance, the work of contemporary  Spanish film-maker Pedro Almodóvar  seems dissimilar : much gaudier and broader. But I feel his Volver is reminiscent of Lorca : the women tending the cemeteries in the wind-swept village is a little like the scene in Yerma where Dolores and Yerma are praying in a cemetery to speed the latter’s pregnancy.  It is often said that homosexual male artists show a particular sensitivity in observing and analysing the female experience : perhaps this holds true with Lorca and Almodovar.

For full effect, productions of Lorca probably need to be kept in their historical and geographical contexts, and with a certain sense of religious ritual, such as the several Spanish productions on You Tube of The House of Bernarda Alba.

There is a great collection of Lorca plays and poetry here, and some photographs of the Andalusia where Lorca lived here :

 

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Juxtaposed Christian and Moslem features are typical of Cordoba’s Mezquita : the building which began as a mosque and has since lived an 800 year life as a Catholic cathedral with scarcely any change in its physical appearance.

 

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In Ronda, an 18th century bridge, the Puente Nuevo, joins the two halves of the town across a deep gorge.

 

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Some of the landscape viewed from Ronda’s Puente Nuevo.

 

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Part of the Alhambra complex in Granada, with the Moslem district of Albaicin in the background.

 

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An example of Moorish design inside the Alhambra.

 

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“(The Albaicin)… displays an infinite external harmony. Sweet is the dance of the houses round the mount,” wrote Lorca.

 

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A Moorish exterior in the Alhambra.

 

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In the distance, the head-like shape of the rock of La Peña de los Enamorados, as seen from the entrance to the Menga dolmen (a prehistoric burial chamber) in Antequera.

 

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An ambiguous female figure perhaps appropriate for Lorca’s home region. La Tarasca – part woman, part dragon – is a traditional feature of the Corpus Christi procession.

 

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The 16th century Royal Collegiate Church of Santa Maria la Major in Antequera, with the statue of the writer Pedro de Espinosa.

 

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Outside Antequera, a shrine to St Veronica, who, according to Christian tradition, wiped the face of Jesus as he carried the cross to his crucifixion.

 

 

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