Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ten Books: Three Tragedies

4. Three Tragedies, by Federico García Lorca
My very first entry for this blog gives you a pretty good idea of the influence of García Lorca on my ideas poetic, theatrical, aesthetic, philosophical, and otherwise. While I love his poetry and his other plays, this is the book through which I met him. Mind you, I don’t necessarily think it’s the best translation it could be, but it made the introduction – and later when I was in Spain and at the apex (so far) of my Spanish-speaking/reading abilities, I read the same plays in the original (with the English translation, a Spanish dictionary, a Spanish/English dictionary, and sometimes my Spanish roommate on hand). Though reading sessions often ended with a headache, I was newly blown away, especially by the boldness of what he had written at a very dangerous time in Spanish history. Much of his work was not only banned until 1953, but because of it (and his homosexuality) he was hunted down, killed, and left in an unmarked grave by Franco’s henchmen when the Spanish Civil War broke out. It was a tragedy then, for his family & for Spain, and it will always be a tragedy for humanity that he died at the not very ripe old age of 36.

The three plays in this volume comprise what many call his “rural trilogy.” In my opinion, they are the height of his humanist work, passionate & compassionate, simple yet complex, insightful & ahead of their time, composed when he was dabbling with surrealism but not yet immersed in it. They are about women in contemporary, rural Spain with towering passions, yet anybody who has read them would agree, I think, that they are about us all. For those who haven’t read them, they are, in order, Bodas de Sangre (Blood Wedding), Yerma, and La Casa de Bernarda Alba (The House of Bernarda Alba).

Next: Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf

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