Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: García Lorca is celebrated as a poet and dramatist who was able to weave traditional and folk elements of Spanish literature and culture into highly imaginative and original works. His poems and dramas are replete with startling metaphors and images that are both personal and universal in their focus on life and death, sexual identity, and the conflicts of fantasy and reality.
Federico García Lorca was born in rural Andalusia near the city of Granada. His father, Don Federico García, was a wealthy landowner. His mother, Vicenta Lorca, was a woman of artistic sentiments and a teacher who nurtured young García Lorca’s poetic sensibilities. Indeed, as a child, he entertained relatives and friends with his own puppet show dramas. Encouraged by his mother’s intense religious mysticism, the creative child took great delight in saying Mass for his family as if he were their priest.
By 1909, the family had moved to Granada, where García Lorca’s secondary education would take place. Though he had wanted to study music to become a composer, his practical father wanted his son to pursue a legal career. García Lorca was enrolled in the College of the Sacred Heart to prepare for such study at the University of Granada. At the college he was taught in the traditional Scholastic system of Saint Thomas Aquinas, which sought to merge intellectually the material with the spiritual. The young, thoughtful García Lorca, however, felt the clash between the medieval worldview of harmony portrayed in his formal studies and the modern world of enlightened scientific and social ideas then proliferating in Spain.
Graduating in 1914, García Lorca was enrolled in the University of Granada. While studying law there, he continued to pursue his interests in music and the rest of the liberal arts. By 1916, he was associating at cafés with fellow intellectuals and aesthetes who, like himself, found the everyday world in which they had to live boring, unimaginative, and, to use García Lorca’s own word, “putrefied.” During this period in his life, García Lorca was influenced by the respected musician Manuel de Falla, whose music was often characterized by its modern treatment of Spanish folk themes. He also became a follower of Don Fernando de los Ríos, who helped foster the modern intellectual, artistic, and political mood in Spain that challenged traditional values and authority.
Though he finally completed his law degree in 1923, in 1919 García Lorca moved to Madrid to study at the university there and lived in the Residencia de Estudiantes, a student residence that was a hotbed of radical, new thinking. While in Madrid, remarkable friendships with such literary figures as Menéndez Pidal, José Ortega y Gasset, and Juan Ramón Jiménez inspired in him a commitment to pursue a career as a writer. He also associated with the likes of Luis Buñuel, Pepín Bello, and perhaps most significantly, Salvador Dalí. Furthermore, he became a friend of Gregorio Martínez Sierra, a director of the Eslava Theater, who eventually produced Lorca’s first play.
García Lorca’s first publication, Impresiones y paisajes (1918), a melancholy collection of lyrics describing his impressions of ancient Spanish life as it resonated in decaying churches and monasteries, and Libro de poemas (1921), poems composed before García Lorca’s Madrid experience, gained little attention outside his intellectual circle of friends. Though Canciones, 1921-1924 (1927; Songs, 1976) demonstrated García Lorca’s genius for merging traditional themes and images of Spain into contemporary modes of poetic expression, it was the publication of Romancero gitano (1928; The Gypsy Ballads of García Lorca, 1951, 1953) that brought him international attention. This book took more than five years to complete, and some have called it his finest single collection of poetry. In these poems, García Lorca incorporates the popular, rurally primitive spirit of Spain with the wildness and passion of his imagination. The gypsy culture provides the backdrop to the poet’s portrayal of the mystery of an alien society surviving in the dominant culture. Furthermore, he explores, with surprising metaphors and unusual word order, the existential and personal themes of dangerously repressed sexual instincts that are ever ready to erupt into the surface life, sometimes in the throes of violence and death. In fact, with haunting, lyrical beauty, the poems explore the full spectrum of sexual experience from the “normal” to the hidden impulses toward incest and homosexuality. The collection rightly brought García Lorca the title of “gypsy poet.”
By the 1930’s, while continuing to suffer emotional strife and bouts of depression, García Lorca turned his creative talents to the drama. With Bodas de sangre (1933; Blood Wedding, 1939), Yerma (1934; English translation, 1941), and later La casa de Bernarda Alba (1945; The House of Bernarda Alba, 1947), he created a dramatic trilogy that portrays characters struggling with their instinctual passions as well as their interlocking fates. Yerma, for example,...
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Biography (eNotes Publishing)
Federico Garcia Lorca was the Kurt Cobain of early-twentieth-century literature. Misunderstood, depressive, and dead at far too young an age, he remains an important and tragic figure in Spanish drama and poetry. Lorca was part of a group of artists and poets known as the Generation of ’27, whose defining aesthetic remains difficult to grasp in part because of the diversity of its membership. What ultimately united the group, however, was a focus on the avant-garde and a rejection of traditional forms of expression, both of which Lorca incorporated into his writing. Along with his dark and haunting love sonnets, Lorca’s most enduring work is a trilogy of “rural tragedies”: Blood Wedding, Yerma, and The House of Bernarda Alba. The third play, which allegorizes and criticizes dictatorial rule, was not performed for nearly a decade after his death.
- Lorca was part of an artistic circle of some of the most influential and creative thinkers of early-twentieth-century Spain, including Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali.
- Lorca’s first play, The Butterfly’s Evil Spell, was a symbolist work that depicted the thwarted love affair between a butterfly and a cockroach.
- A homosexual in a climate of extreme intolerance, Lorca suffered from severe depression throughout his short life.
- Lorca’s works were banned or censored for almost four decades after his death. Only in the mid-1970s, after General Franco died, were Lorca’s works again published in his homeland.
- Lorca was executed at the young age of 38 at the onset of the Spanish Civil War.
Biography (Critical Survey of Drama, Second Revised Edition)
Federico García Lorca was born in 1898 in a small Andalusian village about fifteen miles from Granada. His father was a prosperous landowner and his mother a sometime teacher. All four of their children grew up in comfortable circumstances with the advantages of a good formal education and the prolonged leisure to pursue the delights of music and literature. Indeed, García Lorca’s interest in the theater was apparent from a very early age in the puppet-theater shows that he designed and directed to entertain the household. In 1909, the family moved to Granada, where García Lorca went to school and attended university. The move was significant: The rich and varied cultural life there fired the young García Lorca’s ambition to write, while the city itself provided him with the subject matter of some of his most important works. Moreover, at the conservatory in Granada, García Lorca’s considerable musical ability brought him to the attention of Manuel de Falla. Their long friendship and occasional professional collaboration was based on a mutual interest in traditional Spanish music and folklore. In 1919, García Lorca left for Madrid and began a ten-year stay at the Residencia de Estudiantes that proved of great consequence to his artistic career. There, García Lorca kept company with the senior Spanish residents, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Gregorio Martínez Sierra, Antonio Machado; made friends with Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel; and enjoyed the frequent visits of famous European contemporaries of the stature of H. G. Wells, François Mauriac, Igor Stravinsky, Paul Valéry, and Albert Einstein. Above all, García Lorca found at the Residencia an audience that listened with intellectual acuity and sensitive appreciation to...
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Biography (Critical Survey of Poetry)
Other Literary Forms
The publisher Aguilar of Madrid issued a one-volume edition of Federico García Lorca’s works, compiled and annotated by Arturo del Hoyo, with a prologue by Jorge Guillén and an epilogue by Vicente Aleixandre. In addition to the poetry, it includes García Lorca’s plays, of which the tragic rural trilogy Bodas de sangre (pr. 1933, pb. 1935; Blood Wedding, 1939), Yerma (pr. 1934; English translation, 1941), and La casa de Bernarda Alba (wr. 1936; pr., pb. 1945; The House of Bernarda Alba, 1947) are world famous and represent García Lorca’s best achievement as a poet become director-playwright. In order to portray all the facets of García...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
The son of a well-to-do landholder, Federico García Rodriguez, and a former schoolteacher, Vicenta Lorca, Federico García Lorca (gahr-SEE-ah LAWR-kah) was born in the small village of Fuentevaqueros, Spain, near the Andalusian city of Granada on June 5, 1898. Legend has it that García Lorca was a slow walker and talker, but his mother and brother remembered that he was normal in his development. He did, however, display at an early age a vivid imagination and a strong creative flair. He was fond of staging puppet shows written and costumed by him for an audience composed of the family servants. He also liked to play the role of priest at impromptu masses. These childhood interests foretold his success as a playwright, director,...
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Partly, at least, because of 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 (gahr-SEE-ah LAWR-kah) 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 (book of poems) and Songs. 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,...
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Federico García Lorca was born on June 5,1898, in the small town of Fuente Vaqueros, near the city of Granada, in Spain. He grew up in comfortable and pleasant circumstances, cultivating his tastes and talents for music (piano) and writing. By 1909 his family had moved to Granada, and by 1914 Lorca was enrolled in the University of Granada studying the liberal arts and law. He published a first book of collected articles and essays in 1918.
This first book whetted Lorca's appetite for more ambitious literary forays. In 1919, Lorca moved to the Residence of University Students in Madrid, where he believed he would encounter and benefit from a greater concentration of cultural activity than Granada, at the time, could offer. In Madrid, Lorca became acquainted with and established close, lifelong associations with Salvador Dalí, the surrealist artist, and Manuel de Falla, the orchestral composer, amongst others.
While Lorca wrote some dramatic pieces in his early writing years, he began his literary career most notably as a poet. However, while he was writing this poetry, he was also involved in a theatrical group of which he was the director. It was in the late 1920s that Lorca began to concentrate on drama. His famous trilogy of rural plays, of which Blood Wedding is one, was written between 1933-1936. Two of them were also staged during these years. (This trilogy includes Yerma and The House of Bernarda Alba.)
Lorca's short life was busy and full. He wrote a great deal, he was feted and admired, and he traveled extensively (for example, to the United States, Cuba, and South America). While Lorca's public life is well documented, biographers are less certain about precise details concerning Lorca's private life. The reason for this is that Lorca was gay, and the frank disclosure of such a fact during his time would have substantially endangered his career and social position.
Lorca was assassinated in 1936 just outside of Granada. The Spain of the early 1930s was a country uneasily negotiating the shift from monarchical, parliamentary traditionalism to full democracy and cultural liberalism. The political and social situation in Spain was as beleaguered and chaotic as that which characterized European politics and society, in general, at the time. The continent as a whole was struggling with the effects of lingering post-WW I economic depression as well as the rise of fascism in Italy, Germany, and Spain. The fascist army general Francisco Franco was gaining support in Spain, primarily from those who feared substantive change in either cultural or political terms. It was supporters of right-wing leaders such as Franco who saw Lorca and others as threats to the traditionalism and dictatorial society and law they wished to impose upon the Spanish nation. Lorca was arrested on August 16, 1936, and shot on either August 18th or 19th.