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When students only have read a few poems, in exclusively academic contexts, they often approach poetry with what the li...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Waking up smart

I woke up smarter than usual. That's a pretty objective statement, I think. The ideas just starting coming to me before I was out of the shower and they wouldn't stop. This would be the beginning of an article, for example. This just sort of popped into my head and I wrote it. I'm not sure if I need to do this article, since I am writing the book, but seeing how I would do it as an article will help me to fill in this particular part of the book chapter.
Lorca’s Duende as a Theory of Spanish Cultural Exceptionalism [I need a better title!]

Federico García Lorca’s “Juego y teoría del duende” is as an expression of the poet’s own mature aesthetic aims, the culmination of his consciously developed poetics. Within Lorca studies, at least, that is the most common way of interpreting this key text. The duende lecture also is the conduit through which his poetic influence spreads to the United States, where the duende has become practically synonymous with the author’s name (Mayhew). To read Lorca’s text in this way, however, is to draw a series of inferences, since the text never refers directly to his own poetry or to the creative process that gives rise to it. What the text is, on its surface, is not an explanation of how Lorca writes a poem, but a theory of Spanish cultural exceptionalism, “una sencilla lección sobre el espíritu oculto de la dolorida España” (a simple lesson about the hidden spirit of pain-ridden Spain).

This does not mean that allegorical readings of “Juego y teoría del duende”--those that draw inferences about Lorca’s own poetics--are invalid. Sophisticated interpretations of slippery texts are inferential and allegorical by their very nature and Lorca’s lecture is, I believe, an attempt to formulate his own poetics. At the same time, however, a deliberately literal-minded approach to this text will reveal its kinship to other formulations of Hispanic exceptionalism like Miguel de Unamuno’s intrahistoria, Américo Castro’s morada vital, or María Zambrano’s razón poética. Once his work is situated in this context, we can attempt to answer the key question of why Lorca chose to write about his own poetics using a theory of cultural exceptionalism as his preferred vehicle.

SPANISH CULTURAL EXCEPTIONALISM

Exceptionalism is the belief that a particular nation or people have a unique identity or destiny...

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