Introduction: Lorca / modelo para armar
Apocryphal Lorca: Translation, Parody, Kitsch (2009) is “not a book about the Spanish poet and dramatist Federico García Lorca” but, rather, an exploration of Lorca’s problematic reception among poets in the US, including Jack Spicer, Robert Creeley, and Frank O’Hara (xi). In this sequel, What Lorca Knew: Lorquian Poetics for the Twenty-First Century, the subject is, once again, the poetic afterlife of one of the great poets of European modernism. In this case, I have written a book that is more directly about Lorca, but my focus remains on his lasting presence in literary culture. Instead of limiting my scope to American poetry, I have chosen a set of critical problems relating to his critical and poetic reception in his native Spain, and to the academic industry devoted to his work around the world.
Unlike many other books on Lorca, What Lorca Knew does not consist of interpretations or explications of individual plays or books of poetry. Precisely because other capable scholars and critics have dealt adequately with his major achievements, I do not think another volume of this type is the most urgent task at the present moment—at least not for a critic of my particular disposition. I have not put forward new interpretations of Romancero gitano or Bodas de sangre, works that have been studied in great detail by countless other scholars. Instead, I have examined various dimensions of his ongoing cultural legacy, with particular attention to the ways in which his poetry is re-imagined in “hermeneutical situations” of multiple kinds.
These situations are, in principle, endlessly varied, but I have chosen three main areas of concentration. My primary interest is in Lorca’s poetics, especially as they take shape in his lectures on Flamenco music, Spanish folklore, and the duende. My aim here is to treat Lorquian poetics as the self-conscious construction of a poet who knew what he was doing, rather than as an anti-intellectual and naïve genius. Having defined “what Lorca knew,” my second aim is to study the ongoing influence of Lorquian poetics in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, with particular attention to his influence on two rival schools of contemporary Spanish poetry, whose uses of Lorca are diametrically opposed. I also remain interested in the larger cultural uses of Lorquian poetics, both in Spain and in the United States. Thirdly, I am interested in the academic reception of Lorca in relation to this poetic and cultural legacy: my hermeneutic construction of Lorca’s self-conscious poetics requires that I, too, be self-conscious of my own position as an academic specialist in the field.
Together with Apocryphal Lorca, What Lorca Knew forms part of an ongoing larger project that I am calling Lorca / modelo para armar [Lorca / model to construct]. There may be additional volumes in this series as well. The title comes from a novel by Julio Cortázar, 62 / modelo para armar, which in turn is derived from Chapter 62 of Rayuela [Hopscotch]. The idea here, quite simply, is that an author like Federico García Lorca is a construction rather than a truth or essence to be discovered. This assertion should hardly be controversial, but it leads to some surprising conclusions. The hermeneutical enterprise does not lead to a better understanding of who Lorca “really was,” but to an open-ended exploration of what he might mean for us.
The hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer provides a way of understanding the ongoing legacy of a hyper-canonical figure like Lorca, who presents interpretative problems of dizzying complexity. Because Lorca has been the object of endless translation, transformation, and commentary, he...
Friday, November 30, 2012
What I wrote in the last three days
Would you read a book that started out like this?