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Saturday, November 9, 2019

Now the next stage: Begin the intro

Lecture 5:
Dramatis Personae

Lorca’s lyric poetry explores subjectivity in multiple dimensions. A confessional lyric voice identified with the biographical subject “Lorca” as merely one option among others, and is far from his default mode: his poems speak from a variety of positions, including fluid, impersonal, and quasi-anonymous ones. The speaker of the poem, then, is not Lorca himself, but a voice deployed in a variety of ways, following some of the generic conventions of lyric poetry. In my view, even a first-person singular lyric subject, identified in some way with the author, is still a fictive utterance, since a poem is not an act of speech in the real world but a fictive simulation of such an act. Even confessional poems are dramatic monologues. 
If we regard Lorca’s poetry not, primarily, as a mode of self-expression, but as an exploration of the problems of subjectivity itself, it is easy to see that drama offers him even greater possibilities in this regard. A playwright, after all, speaks through the voice of fictive subjects not identified with the authorial self. Of course, nothing will prevent critics who are so inclined from projecting the biographical subject “Lorca” back into his plays. It is not clear to me, though, that this impulse leads to the richest possible interpretation of his dramaturgy. What is striking about his dramatic characters is the wide range of subject positions they occupy: why, then, would we want to trace them all back to a single source?   
Lorca’s search for alternative forms of subjectivity means, essentially, that he is a modernist playwright, one who rejects conventional dramatic realism in favor of avant-garde techniques of characterization. It is easy to see this avant-garde dimension in his “impossible” theater and in early experiments like “Buster Keaton’s Bicycle Ride.” From my perspective, though, the rural tragedies for which he is best known also overturn the conventions of theatrical realism, through their poetic elements and their austere stylization.