Federico García Lorca

The poet that best portrayed Spanish culture through his literature

It is impossible to talk about Spanish literature without mentioning Federico García Lorca. This author is probably one of the most popular poets worldwide. His masterpieces, such as Bodas de sangre (Blood Wedding), and his poetic imagination have made Lorca a quintessential Spanish author. Furthermore, his texts are an extraordinary tool to assimilate the Spanish popular culture. We invite you to discover the life and work of this avant-garde author.

The artist’s context

Federico García Lorca lived during an exciting time for Spanish arts. He was a contemporary of other important cultural figures, such as Luis Buñuel behind the cameras and Salvador Dalí with his surrealist brush.

He was also a member of one of the most influential groups in Spanish literature: the Generation of ’27. This constellation of authors and poets from the 20th century contributed to the Silver Age of Spanish letters. The introduction of the avant-garde is the common feature of all its writers. Rafael Alberti, Pedro Salinas, Luis Cernuda, and Vicente Aleixandre are all part of this generation.

Life and works of Lorca

Federico García Lorca was born in a small Andalusian town in the province of Granada in 1898. His family moved to the city of Granada when he was 11 years old, but Lorca continued spending long summers in the countryside, which was a life-long inspiration for his work. He studied Arts and Law. Although he was always interested in music, the trips he took around Spain with his friends from university inspired him to write. His travels greatly influenced his first literary works, such as Impresiones y paisajes (Impressions and Landscapes), published in 1918.

In 1919 he moved to Madrid, where he frequented the cultural center known as the Residencia de Estudiantes. During the time he spent in this cultural hub, Lorca had the chance to meet important figures in the fields of science and art. Travelling around Spain, he befriended personalities such as Salvador Dalí and Manuel de Falla, who deeply influenced his works.

Romancero Gitano (Gypsy Ballads) is Lorca’s most popular creation from this period. It contains 18 ballads with topics such as the night, the moon, and death. All of them discuss gypsy culture and Andalusian folklore, with metaphors and music as a constant thread.

In 1929, Lorca embarked on a trip to New York that opened his mind and changed his vision of the world. He captured his impressions of the rootless civilization, as he called it, in a book called Poeta en Nueva York (A Poet in New York). After returning to Spain, he had the chance to be the director of La Barraca, a traveling theatre company and the first project of his own.

From the ‘30s on, the success of plays such as Bodas de sangre and Mariana Pineda allowed Lorca to travel often to America and increase his production. Yerma (Barren) and La casa de Bernarda Alba (The House of Bernarda Alba) were produced at this golden time for the writer. Unfortunately, Spain was starting to suffer the effects of an unsustainable political situation, which changed the life of the poet.

The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 was the beginning of the end for Lorca. That same year, the author was arrested in Granada. A few days later, he was shot dead by Francisco Franco’s regime. Although many speculations have been made about his death, the reasons behind his capture are still a mystery.

Lorca’s poetic imagination

Lorca’s poems and plays are imbued with music, popular culture, and the customs of the Spanish rural society. Ambience plays such an important role in his stories that it could be considered one of the main characters. His detailed landscapes have several recurring themes, from horses and gypsy women to the full moon and silver rivers.

Lorca exposes the depths of humanity. Desire, love, death, identity, beauty, and artistic creation are ever-present throughout his career.

Precisely because of his vision of Spanish culture, learning about Lorca is the perfect way to delve into the study of the Spanish language. His words will transport you to the fields of Andalusia, where you’ll witness the people’s customs and uncover the roots of their most popular traditions. If you are interested in this world, we invite you to read some Federico García Lorca’s works:

Poema del cante jondo (1921)
Romancero gitano (1928)
Poeta en Nueva York (1930)
Diván de Tamarit (1936)

Mariana Pineda (1927)
Bodas de sangre (1933)
Yerma (1934)
La casa de Bernarda Alba (1936)