Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Lament for the Death of a Bullfighter grows out of a series of facts that help explain some of the poem’s allusions. Ignacio Sánchez Mejías, the son of a Seville doctor, was a member of García Lorca’s generation, a patron of the arts, a writer admired for his plays, and a nationally known bullfighter who had learned his art from the great García y Belmonte. Sánchez Mejías retired from bullfighting in 1922 but allowed himself to return to the ring in 1934, close to the age of forty-three. He was gored on August 11, 1934. Taken to a clinic in Madrid, gangrene set in, and he suffered a painful end, writhing on his bed. He died on August 13. The next day, his body was placed on a train to take him for burial to Seville, and a Madrid newspaper in bold headlines announced the time of the train’s departure: AT FIVE O’CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON.
García Lorca had strong thoughts on the origin and nature of the bullfight, and it is these convictions that help explain the rhetoric of the elegy on the death of his friend. The sport, if it may be called that, was connected to the Spanish character. As García Lorca noted, “Spain [was] the only country where death is the national spectacle.” Ancient Near Eastern religions deified the cow, and many primitive religions required the annual sacrifice of an animal to ensure the fertility of the crops. Bulls were bred in Spain in Roman times, and the modern art of bullfighting began in the eighteenth...
(The entire section is 941 words.)
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