Commentary

Selected Criticism

Title:
García Lorca, Federico (1898–1936)
Author:
Mason-Browne, N.J.
Print source:
J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, eds., Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), reproduced by permission.

The Spanish poet and dramatist Federico García Lorca achieved early fame with books of poems such as Gypsy Ballads (1928), which combined folkloric elements with striking imagery and a dreamlike eroticism. A vivid and genial presence, he was immensely popular. Lorca was executed by right-wing elements at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939).

In 1929 and early 1930, Lorca was in the United States. Residing for the most part in New York, he met Hart Crane and read Whitman in Spanish translation. Lorca did his most audaciously innovative work at this time, and the eventual result was Poet in New York (1940), a shapeless jeremiad directed against urban materialism. The book's poems also contain references (often murky) to the poet's homoerotic sentiments. In "Ode to Walt Whitman," Lorca exalts Whitman as a god of pastoral innocence and the antithesis of modern values. In this context, he favorably contrasts Whitman's notions of intimacy with those of modern homosexuals.

The surreal and splenetic qualities of "Ode to Walt Whitman" seem a far cry from Leaves of Grass. As has been the case with a number of Spanish-speaking writers, Lorca saw Whitman more as an inspirational figure than a source of technical novelties.

Bibliography

García Lorca, Federico. Poet in New York. Ed. Christopher Maurer. Trans. Greg Simon and Steven F. White. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1988.

Gibson, Ian. Federico García Lorca: 2. De Nueva York a Fuente Grande (1929–1936). Barcelona: Grijalbo, 1987.

Walsh, John K. "The Social and Sexual Geography of Poeta en Nueva York." "Cuando yo me muera . . .": Essays in Memory of Federico García Lorca. Ed. C. Brian Morris. Lanham, Md.: UP of America, 1988. 105–127.


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