Critical Overview

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Last Updated on May 11, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 390

Lorca’s execution cast a long shadow over the critical reaction to The Diván at Tamarit, and because of Francisco Franco’s oppressive regime, it was decades before the poems could be openly discussed in Spain. As Andrew Anderson writes in his 1990 study Lorca’s Late Poetry: A Critical Study, “much of...

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Lorca’s execution cast a long shadow over the critical reaction to The Diván at Tamarit, and because of Francisco Franco’s oppressive regime, it was decades before the poems could be openly discussed in Spain. As Andrew Anderson writes in his 1990 study Lorca’s Late Poetry: A Critical Study, “much of the early Lorca criticism can be characterized, with some notable exceptions, as impressionistic, clichéd and superficial.” Writing in his book García Lorca, Edwin Honig agrees that critics in England and the United States “sought either to make political capital of his tragic death, or introduce certain of his poems as examples of Spanish surrealism . . . [and] Lorca was neither a ‘political’ nor a ‘surrealist’ poet.”

If critics were prone to mislead Lorca’s readers in the years following his death, however, they did not tarnish his reputation. The international community largely reacted to Lorca’s death with increased reverence for the poet and playwright, and it was a Columbia University magazine in New York that first published The Diván at Tamarit. At the time of his death, Lorca was at the height of his fame, vastly influential over the Spanish theater across the world, and widely considered the most prodigious poet of his generation.

The Diván at Tamarit has received less critical attention than, for example, Gypsy Ballads or the major plays. Anderson goes on to remark that “Much of the reputable general Lorca criticism in book form has unfortunately tended to ignore the late poetry or at least only treat it in passing,” although key critics writing in Spanish journals have analyzed the collection’s methods and forms. Two critics that provide a sustained analysis of “Gacela of the Dark Death” are Anderson and the Hispanic writer Daniel Devoto, and each provide a line-byline examination (although Anderson delves more thoroughly into its symbolism and themes). Paul Binding, in his book Lorca: The Gay Imagination, discusses the poem in terms of his argument on the importance of sexuality in Lorca’s authorial vision, writing that “Gacela of the Dark Death” is one of Lorca’s most profound explorations of death and love. Few other critics have written about the poem, however, and perhaps this is because, as Binding writes, the gacelas and casidas “are even more difficult to access than Lorca’s other poetry.”

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Essays and Criticism