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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cryptography / quinto evangelio

There is a whole school of Lorca criticism that sees his work as a secret code to be deciphered. Eutimio Martín thinks that Lorca's project was to develop a "fifth gospel" of a humanist messianic-quixotic type. Martín thinks he is rescuing Lorca from "folklore."

My refutation is very simple: if that's what Lorca was about, how come he didn't say so? Why encrypt such an important message? At the risk of being somewhat literal minded, I think that Lorca is about what he seems to be about. There is some Christological stuff in his juvenilia, true, but he left it behind him for good reasons. The mature Lorca didn't really want to be Jesus any more.

6 comments:

Andrew Shields said...

This is a generalizable point: writers very rarely encode secrets in their work. If ever. It's a waste of time to argue that you've found some secret code that was put their by the author. More likely, you've been fooled by randomness.

Jonathan said...

That's the larger point, yes. I think it is a dumb way of thinking about literary meaning.

el curioso impertinente said...

So how do you explain the Desnudo Rojo (Hombre I) in El público? Or “New York. Oficina y denuncia” (“me ofrezco a ser comido por las vacas estrujadas”)?

Jonathan said...

By looking them up in the Lorca code book where all symbols are explained.

Obviously meaning is not transparent, but do you think there is a secret, encoded meaning to everything? Maybe opacity itself serves a purpose.

el curioso impertinente said...

You misunderstand me. I'm not talking about interpreting the figure of the Desnudo Rojo or that line from Poeta en Nueva York. I'm simply saying that Christological elements do indeed endure in some works from the 1930s, and don't disappear after the juvenilia. I'm as much against a book like Carlos Ramos Gil's Claves líricas as you are.

Jonathan said...

I wasn't aware that Christ was eaten by cows.

Seriously, though, you are right that Christological elements persist throughout his work. That doesn't mean that this is the one key to understanding all of his mature work, though. It doesn't mean he saw his major aim as writing a "fifth gospel." As you say, it's something that remains present in "some works" of the 30s.