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Lorca and Censorship: The Gay Artist Made Heterosexual(1)
Florida State University
[until 1996] daniel.eisenberg[@]bigfoot.com
Lo curioso es cómo en todos los artículos que acompañan a los sonetos se evita cuidadosamente la palabra homosexual, aunque se aluda a ello, pues nadie ignora que esos sonetos no están dedicados a una mujer. Se ve que todavía ésa es palabra tabú en España, en ciertos medios, como si el confesarlo fuese un descrédito para el poeta.
Censorship of creative people has been much in the news this past year. When I was asked to speak on Lorca’s Sonetos del amor oscuro, which were one of his suppressed works and a work whose title is censored to this day, I thought that it could be interesting to look at censorship of Lorca in general. Lorca offers examples of a variety of types of censorship, by different people and for different reasons. The history of the censorship is the first chapter of the history of Lorca studies.
The person who wants to read or study Lorca has been faced—and is still faced—with the problem of access to his texts. This problem began during his lifetime. Lorca was a constant reviser of his works, and careless with his manuscripts, now scattered over three continents. He preferred oral presentation to distribution in book form. (His friends sometimes called him “el último juglar”.) Just before his death projects for editions of his collected works were discussed. Immediately after his death his Obras completas began to appear. Yet the project has been long and drawn-out, migrating from one publisher to another, and remains uncompleted. It is the failure to make Lorca’s works available, after his death, through publication that is my topic in this paper: what happened, why it happened, and what its effects have been.
Not all of this has been due to censorship per se. A significant portion of it is simply due to more conventional, though still vexing reasons: competition between editors, lack of a central registry for the manuscripts, their loss and misplacement through lack of care. Part of the problem has been a family that has earned a reputation for venality on the one hand—that’s the least of it—and for capricious decisions, or refusing to decide at all, on the other. The family has squabbled among itself: one person said one thing and another said something different. For some fifteen years, from 1936 to 1951, the family had no procedure for signing contracts. Either contracts didn’t get signed at all and everything sat waiting, or someone would sign a contract and someone else would try to undo it(3). Also impeding editors and scholars, as well as the general public, have been the various projects of the Lorca family members to edit Federico’s works. They withheld permission from others because they were going to edit Federico’s works themselves, something for which they were, depending on the individual, intellectually or emotionally unprepared to do (“Nuevos documentos”, pp. 102-107). None of these projects ever materialized, but they hampered scholarly editors for many years.
So being a Lorca scholar, for all its excitement, is no bed of roses. But this is not my topic, which is simply censorship. Also, I’m not going to deal with censorship of Lorca while he was alive. There is no doubt that it existed. His plays occasionally had difficulties with the authorities; the “Oda a Walt Whitman” was published only in a private edition in Mexico. There were some plays which Lorca did not seek to produce because he said they were unproduceable. If produced there would have been, if not governmental censorship, popular censorship in the form of violence. (In one of Lorca’s last works the author of a play is killed by the audience.) It’s questionable whether these works could have been produced or published anywhere in the world sixty years ago. It seems probable that like Tirso de Molina, a famous homosexual playwright of seventeenth-century Spain, Lorca centered his plays which were produced on women because he couldn’t write as he wished about men. Yet he did write, making what compromises he needed to get produced, and without compromise in works not intended for immediate production or publication. It’s hard to criticize someone as too reticent who was killed at least in part because of what he wrote.
The scandal is not what happened when Federico was alive, it is what happened after his death. The central problem is not an unfamiliar one to scholars, and it has happened many times over the years. Control of the works of a deceased writer or artist has passed to his or her heirs, who have their own agendas. A valid question, and this has come up with Lorca, is whether the laws of intellectual property are correct to permit this sort of thing to happen. It was quite legal, for example, for the widow of the orientalist Richard Burton to burn the manuscript of an annotated translation almost ready for the press, a tragic loss.
In the case of Lorca this is not as well known as it should be, because there has been an attempt to suppress it, a further scandal. His relatives have never admitted censoring Lorca’s works, and scholars have been pressured not to discuss it. In sum, Lorca’s works have only been partially, selectively available to those who wished to read or study him. In some cases, scholarship has been manipulated by selectively granting and withholding access to texts and other Lorca material. Furthermore, the situation is by no means completely resolved, although things are much better than they used to be.
I’ve thought at length about how I feel about this censorship, if there is something to be said for it. The tensions causing the censorship of Lorca’s texts are the same tensions that created his works; that is to say, the censorship of his writings after his death is related to his suffering and the opposition to his sexuality when alive. Yet even if art was the outcome, I find myself unable to rejoice in any of it. That his works have been censored has had the paradoxical, but unsurprising effect of increasing interest in them. The Sonetos del amor oscuro, Lorca’s homosexual Petrarchan sonnet sequence, got far more attention at its clandestine publication in 1983 than it would have if published in 1938. As long as the works survive at all, and that is a big proviso, censorship is ultimately counter-productive, drawing attention and eventually readers to precisely that which the censors wish to suppress. Yet even considering this, my position on the censorship is: I’m angry over it. It has made my life poorer. It offends my sense of how the world should be, of how writers and artists should be treated. It reflects the same spirit that killed Federico. How strange that the censorship of the Franco government, which was monolithic, has been much less problematical and influential than the selective censorship of Lorca’s heirs(4).
The governmental censorship did not preclude Lorca’s works from being published outside Spain, thus available to exiles, travelers, and smugglers (and they were smuggled in during the early years). This is gone completely, and has been gone for a long time—in part in 1954, when the first Spanish edition of his works since 1938 appeared, though it was an expensive edition of his Obras completas so as to restrict its circulation. (I call it Lorca’s “Obras incompletas”.) The governmental censorship disappeared entirely after the death of Franco in 1975. Today there is much less censorship in Spain than in the United States. In Spain, the religious right has its tail between its legs.
Yet the selective censorship of the family is not gone completely, and while reports coincide in saying they have mellowed—I don’t know them first-hand—the damage to fifty years of Lorca readers and Lorca studies has been done. Others tragically followed the model the family set of silence, withholding, and manipulation. So while the family’s archive is now more or less open—not completely open, by any means—other private collections, such as that of Martínez Nadal, are not open to researchers at all.
What I’m going to do is to review the types of censorship of Lorca’s works, and the effects of each type. After that I will try to help you understand why he was censored. The types of censorship are: killing the artist, destroying his manuscripts, withholding works from publication, and altering works that are published. I’m talking about his literary works, because that is where my expertise is and that is what I have most studied. But much the same is the case with the drawings. Most of the drawings you see here on exhibit were not only unavailable, but unknown only ten years ago. Many drawings of Lorca are still missing or otherwise unavailable(5). There is also a flagrant case of alteration of a drawing when it was reprinted, by simply painting out of it a name the publisher did not like(6), and some drawings have been reproduced with titles deleted(7).
1. The first type of censorship is killing the writer. You all know, I expect, that Lorca was executed in 1936, at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. There is a large bibliography on Lorca’s death, the what, when, and somewhat less on the why. It’s a bit like the bibliography on President Kennedy’s assassination.
There are many possible reasons for the execution, which range from friendship with leftist figures, which is documented, to the alleged scorning of his assassin’s sister, which is not. The task of sorting out these various potential and sometimes contradictory reasons is not completed, despite conceptions to the contrary. A number of people had to consent to the execution for it to have taken place, and these people surely had reasons which at most were overlapping(8). Still, the one person most directly involved, everyone agrees, was Ramón Ruiz Alonso. We know quite a bit about him. He was a member of the Spanish parliament, a newspaper worker, and published a book on Fascist political theory. He was the one who sought Federico out in his hiding place, arrested him, and turned him over to the military governor of Granada in August of 1936. Ruiz Alonso, on the day of the arrest, when asked by Federico’s protectors what the charge was against him, said: “Ha hecho más daño con su pluma que otros con sus pistolas”(9).
Some of Federico’s plays were very controversial during his lifetime. Yerma, the story of a woman without children, with homosexual overtones, was especially controversial. The conservatives saw it as quite immoral(10).
Of course if one kills a writer, it is usually not because of what he has already written, but because of what he will write or is presently writing. The same man, Ruiz Alonso, was friends with the family of one of Lorca’s lovers, Luis Rosales, and could well have known what projects were underway. These included El público, a drama in which pederasty is one of the central topics. Romeo can be a man of 30, and Juliet a youth of 15, says the text. (Lorca was about 30 when writing this.) El público was completed, though it had only just been finished. The two copies of the revised text have disappeared, and all that is known is an incomplete first draft. The second of Lorca’s works that was nearly completed was his Sonetos del amor oscuro. Again, we only have access to a first draft of this collection of homosexual sonnets. I’ll have more to say of both of these later.
Then we come to the works of which we have no known manuscript. Fortunately, Lorca was an author who talked a lot about what he was writing and planned to write. He liked to recite his verse and to read scenes from his plays in progress. He liked an audience, and there was no shortage of people eager to listen to him.
Lorca had read to friends his tragedy La destrucción de Sodoma, and we have two published fairly detailed descriptions of its contents. “Federico was trying to substitute homosexuality, so harshly condemned, for incest, but incest, definitively, is set down in the deepest roots of humanity as a thing, totally, absolutely forbidden, even in the most primitive races and peoples. Homosexuality, on the other hand, exists even in animals; it is a natural manner of sexual expression, and those who are inverted [homosexuals] will not procreate, but they will create. And that was the idea of the work”(11).
So these works, which were well advanced or completed, but uncirculated, could well have provoked the ire of someone who saw himself, as the Spanish Catholics did, as defender of “the family”. There is also El sueño de la vida (Comedia sin título), in which the author dies in Act I (which we have) and ascends to heaven in the third act (which we don’t). Yet we have been deprived as well of works that were not yet written, and indeed the works not even conceived. Lorca was only 38, he’d just resolved a creative block, and was enthusiastic and writing furiously. In June of 1936, “creía comenzar ahora su verdadera carrera de autor dramático”(12). Ideas that he mentioned to his friends were Carne de cañón, an anti-war drama; La bola negra, whose “tema esencial es…la homosexualidad…, mejor dicho, el rechazo y la condena social de ese tipo de relación amorosa” (Laffranque, p. 82); and La bestia hermosa, based on a real incident, the story of a young man in love with his horse. His father kills the horse, and is in turn murdered by the son(13). And what would have been Federico’s subsequent projects?
To get killed for one’s writing is in a way the ultimate tribute to the importance and power of one’s words. The effect of the murder has been something like the famous and influential riot at the premiere of Le sacré du printemps: it has marked the author forever as one whose thinking was so dangerous that—Lorca would say like Sophocles and Christ—he couldn’t be allowed to live.
That’s the first type of censorship.
The second type of censorship is the destruction of his works. There is one report of a public bonfire of some copies of Lorca’s published books, but there were so many copies of them in circulation that no serious attempt was made to suppress his published works. However, it is said with some frequency that some or many of Lorca’s unpublished works, his manuscripts and correspondence, have been destroyed. If his unavailable works have been destroyed, then we can lament them, but we don’t have to do anything. We don’t have to find them, or wonder why they their holders won’t release them and what to do to change their minds. We don’t have to write in the prefaces to our books that what follows is based on incomplete access to the author’s texts. It is an easy explanation to make because Spain was then at war, and war is by definition destruction: Madrid was bombed, people had to abandon their houses.
I’m by nature somewhat of an optimist, and I hope that these allegedly destroyed works will reappear. (We have recently had a vital ms. of Huckleberry Finn appear after more than a century, and Sade’s 120 journées de Sodome, stolen in 1789 and thought lost, was not published until 1904, and it was then taken to be a pastiche.(14)) Of course the definitive refutation of a claim that manuscripts have been destroyed is to produce the manuscripts, and I can’t do this. But there are numerous examples of works of Lorca, and other members of his generation, which were previously thought to have been lost, and which have reappeared: his early play El malificio de la mariposa, El público, the Sonetos del amor oscuro, the correspondence with Salvador Dalí and with Vicente Aleixandre, and many letters to his family. A little sidelight: a work truly lost, the puppet play La niña que riega la albahaca y el príncipe preguntón, has been counterfeited, so we have a false discovery now contained in his Obras incompletas(15).
Before I accept something as destroyed, especially one of Lorca’s late works, written when he was internationally famous, I’d at least like to know how it happened. Who had it in his or her hands, what that person did with it: who burned it, if it was burned.
There are three such cases in which there is a statement from a person who said “I myself destroyed something Lorca wrote”. According to Schonberg, García Carrillo destroyed Lorca’s letters to him(16). For all of Schonberg’s failings, which are many and serious, I have yet to find that he has misquoted his sources. Miguel Cerón told Agustín Penón that he “quemó casi todos los papeles que tenía de Federico” (Gibson, Agustín Penón, p. 71). The other person is the American, Philip Cummings, who says he destroyed an autobiographical manuscript of 50 pages that Lorca had left with him in 1929. According to Cummings, he ran across it many years later, and found that Lorca had written at the end “Felipe, si no te pido estas hojas en diez años y si algo me pase, ten la bondad, por Dios, de quemármelas”(17). I’m not sure there ever was such a manuscript. Cummings is a liar who invents things that make him look important. Cummings felt that the days Lorca spent with him during the former’s visit to the New World were one of the high points of his life; he wouldn’t just let a manuscript get buried and stumble across it years later. But you don’t know. Anyway, these are the only such reports I’ve found.
I hope that the time of deliberate destruction of Lorca’s works is past. Anyone who wanted to destroy a Lorca manuscript has now had 55 years to do so. Now the biggest problem may be that to publish materials would mean admitting publicly that one had suppressed them for so long. Someone might find it preferable to see something lost rather than face the shame of having the concealment known. What worries me at least as much is the risk of accidental destruction—the person with some Lorca material hidden away dies, and the discover doesn’t know what it is and throws it out. There have already been some minor instances of Lorca manuscripts accidentally destroyed in this way, or misplaced, which amounts to the same thing(18).
3. Rather than destroying Lorca’s works, more common has been withholding his works. That is to say, we know for a fact that the holder of a Lorca manuscript or letter refused, or still refuses, to let it be published. This is a large category. Some has been for straightforward commercial (financial) or sentimental reasons. The most important withheld works, however, have sexual content or overtones. Lorca’s family systematically, for years, withheld texts dealing with sexuality. The family also attempted to keep others, such as Martínez Nadal, from publishing manuscripts in their possession when these had a sexual component. Others have suppressed works motu proprio: especially noteworthy today, because unresolved, is the case of “Habla la santísima Virgen”. This poem, associated with if not part of Poeta en Nueva York, has never been published, and its present location is unknown. The French Hispanist Mathilde Poms, who owned the manuscript, described it in terms which (when we recall the sexuality of the “Oda al Santísimo Sacramento del altar”) suggest that it combined sexuality and religion(19).
The first collected edition of Lorca’s works appeared in Argentina in 1938—an edition that was prohibited in Spain, as were all of Lorca’s works for some 15 years. In it there appeared the works of Lorca published in his lifetime, with one important exception, plus Yerma, La zapatera prodigiosa, Así que pasen cinco años, pieces of Poeta en Nueva York and the Diván del Tamarit. Excerpts from the correspondence of the editor of that edition, Guillermo de Torre, have been published (“Nuevos documentos”, pp. 69-97).
Several major works were missing from this collection. One was Poeta en Nueva York. The possessor of the manuscript, José Bergamín, had his own plans to publish it. Diván del Tamarit, taken out of Spain by his parents, was published by Columbia University before it was permitted in the collected works. More seriously, in 1938 Lorca’s parents prohibited publication and production of La casa de Bernarda Alba, and the one act of Los sueños de mi prima Aurelia. La casa de Bernarda Alba was produced and incorporated into the Obras incompletas eight years later, in 1945, and it is said—the facts are unclear—that the editor had gotten another manuscript, not the one that the parents had (“Nuevos documentos”, p. 77). The act of Los sueños de mi prima Aurelia was first published in 1987, fifty years after the poet’s death. Finally, Lorca’s very important book of juvenilia, Impresiones y paisajes, was not permitted to be included. It was 1973 before more than fragments of it were reprinted.
Works, letters, and drawings have surfaced over the past fifty years, in big bursts or dribs and drabs, many of them changing significantly the shape of Lorca studies. I don’t have time to go over all the different instances and the factors involved in each.
I will discuss two cases in some detail as examples, two cases that are both extremely important and which share some parallels. The first is that of El público. It has been called the most important work of twentieth century Spanish theater, and was very well received when produced in the 1980’s. A Spanish theatrical magazine has taken the title of the play, as its name.
El público is theater about the theater, about the relationship between characters, actors, and audience. In the theater Romeo and Juliet is to be produced, and there are references to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The true theater disturbs people, mirroring thoughts and desires we prefer not to admit. The play affirms the validity of all sexual desire, and homosexual desire in particular.
What we know about this work, and what access we have to it, is primarily due to Rafael Martínez Nadal. Nadal published a first draft. It is missing one act (of six), a fact that is consistently overlooked when the play is produced. No one, to my knowledge, has tried to surmise what the rest of the work might suggest about the missing act.
According to Nadal, there were two completed, typed manuscripts of the play. He saw them only a few weeks before Lorca’s execution. The location of those two copies is unknown.
Now this is a situation that disturbs me, and it disturbs me more because I seem to be the only one concerned about it. We have a work that is taken to be a masterpiece. It is one of the most important plays ever written in Spanish. All we have of it is a messy first draft, minus an act. Two clean, revised copies have vanished. One can speculate—I certainly have speculations about where they might be, but no hard evidence. One possible holder is José Luis Cano, who was editor of the literary monthly Ínsula and who had, we know not by what route, a manuscript of La casa de Bernarda Alba in advance of its publication. Another possibility is Luis Rosales. Lorca was hiding in Luis Rosales’ house before his death, and we know he was writing there. Rosales, whose credibility is rather low, says that his father turned over all of Lorca’s manuscripts to Lorca’s father, but the family spokesman says that is not so, and that the family does not have anything that Rosales gave them. If one could search the libraries of these two people, Cano and Rosales, which one can not do because to ask would be to admit that one does not trust them, there might be some surprises. Another place to look, and I have not a clue how to get access—I’ve tried—is the closed personal archive of General Franco, also under the exclusive control of his heirs, where there is at the least an extensive collection of unpublished documents about Lorca’s death. It’s not impossible, if Lorca was executed because of his works, that some of his works are there as well. If one could examine Martínez Nadal’s collection of Lorca manuscripts, there would be surprises as well, for Nadal has admitted holding unpublished Lorca materials(20).
But we are in Nadal’s debt for going ahead, breaking the law of intellectual property, and publishing El público. His edition appeared in 1970, 34 years after Lorca’s death. He told us in an introduction that it would have appeared earlier, but that Lorca’s brother Francisco asked him to wait, since he hoped to find one of the final copies. If Nadal had followed the advice of Lorca’s brother, this masterpiece might still be unpublished. Ian Gibson tells us that the topic of homosexuality was prohibited by Lorca family members (Francisco and Isabel)(21). When one considers what an important role homosexuality has in El público, one cannot help but wonder if Francisco was sincere when he said his reason in asking Nadal to wait was so that the final text could be published instead of a draft.
The situation regarding another masterpiece, Lorca’s Sonetos del amor oscuro, is similar. This is again the case of a work which Federico read to friends shortly before his death. Many friends knew about it and wrote or spoke about it. The most famous quotation is that of Aleixandre; another is that of Neruda: “la última vez que lo vi, me llevó a un rincón y, como en secreto, me dijo de memoria seis o siete sonetos que aún persisten en mi recuerdo como sonetos ejemplares, de una increíble belleza. Era un libro entero que nadie conoce aún. Lo tituló Sonetos del amor oscuro”(22).
These are Petrarchan sonnets on homosexual love. As with El público, we have only a draft text. We don’t know whether it is complete or not. It is assumed, though not confirmed as is true of El público, that from this draft there was made a typed fair copy. It is also believed, though this is an old speculation rather than confirmed fact, that said copy was in the possession of Lorca’s lover Rafael Rodríguez Rapún, the inspiration for some if not all the poems. It is assumed that it was lost either when Rapún’s house in Madrid was bombed—not burned—or when he was killed in combat in 1937. This is speculation. No one knows. They could just as well have been in Lorca’s possession when he was arrested and taken off to his death, in that group of missing manuscripts which Rosales says his father gave to Lorca’s father, but which is not to be found. Rosales also said that there were additional sonnets, besides those known today, which Federico was writing while hiding in Rosales’ house. Nothing is known of the fate of these.
In contrast with El público, however, the drafts of the Sonetos del amor oscuro are in the Lorca family’s possession, rather than in that of his close friend Martínez Nadal. The consequence is that we have had to wait longer for access to them. The drafts, and a variety of other poems not published in Spanish at that time, were first published in French translation in 1981. The Spanish originals remained unpublished.
The tensions aroused produced a clandestine edition of the Spanish texts of the sonnets in 1983. The circumstances of this edition have never been made public, perhaps because of fear of legal action. The imprint, Granada, is false. They show signs of hand composition. It is not a very accurate text, and it has now been established that it was based on copies of copies of MSS in the Lorca family archive. The name of Lorca is not found on the edition, which means that the Lorca family, in order to bring legal action, would first have had to prove that these poems were Federico’s poetry, which would have been a very interesting demonstration. They would have had to produce their manuscripts.
This edition had its fifteen minutes of fame; it was reprinted in many publications, and discussed on radio and television. The Sonetos del amor oscuro were said to be Lorca’s best verse, the equal of the greatest verse ever written in Spanish. They were compared with the poems of San Juan de la Cruz. The little edition was called “el libro del año”.
After a few weeks of this, and growing public pressure, Lorca’s sister decided to permit ABC to publish the sonnets to be published in 1984. (Numerous requests had come from a variety of publishers in the past.) ABC paid a million pesetas for each sonnet.
This also marked the point at which the family—Isabel and the spokesman the Montesinos—first revealed to the public the contents of their archive. These include hundreds of pages of juvenilia, fragments or complete texts of many early works, which we had not known even existed, and extensive correspondence with his family. While this was a watershed in Lorca studies(23), the bulk of the juvenilia remains unpublished and unavailable.
So works of Lorca have been withheld for periods of time ranging from four to fifty years. We know still of several collections of Lorca’s correspondence in existence, which are not available to researchers: among them letters to Dalí, Martínez Nadal, and his early musical mentor, and fellow homosexual, Adolfo Salazar. The history of his texts suggests that other texts are still in existence and being withheld. These might include works we have not even heard of and wouldn’t know to look for.
On the handout I have provided two tables that summarize this situation. The first is of works that were suppressed and have been released, and the other is of works that may still exist—certainly most existed at one time—but are not yet available.
4. The next type of censorship is altering an author’s works. I don’t know of an example of someone just out and out rewriting lines of Lorca for ideological reasons. There is a fair amount of hypercorrection by editors; for example, one, unsatisfied with Lorca’s poetical but eloquent punctuation, went through and repunctuated a whole book of verse as if it were prose. There is the usual crop of typographical errors, handwriting poorly deciphered, accidental but real editorial errors. This is one reason the original manuscripts are so important.
What there has been a good bit of is selective deletion of words: publishing fragments of letters, a paragraph or two paragraphs, and then omitting the rest. When Lorca wrote to Carlos Morla Lynch, “¡Muera el Papa que es un puerco espín!, this was published as “!Muera el ….!”(24) One recent example of this sort of one-word censorship is in the title of the Sonetos del amor oscuro collection. They have only been published in Spain with the title Sonetos de amor. One the one hand, Miguel García-Posada, speaking for the family, denies that the word “oscuro” has any homosexual implications: to imply that it did would be “irresponsabilidad”, “hacer daño”, “falsear datos”, “manipular hechos”, an “abusiva simplificación…, otorgándole unas resonancias morbosas, y aun mórbidas”, and in sum “lectura e interpretación errónea de la obra lorquiana”(25). Yet even though the term allegedly has no homosexual implications, it still is not permitted to be used, which I take as confirming that it does have precisely that implication, as it has been taken to mean ever since Lorca’s death and as the sonnets themselves suggest.
The reason given for rejecting the title is that we do not have any testimony of it in Federico’s own hand, and the reports of it are all indirect. Yet the indirect testimonies of Federico’s use of this title are overwhelming. The following members of his circle used that title and no other: Vicente Aleixandre, Pablo Neruda, Francisco Ayala, Luis Cernuda, Cipriano Rivas Cherif, Rafael Martínez Nadal, Giner de los Ríos, Guillermo de Torre, Manuel Altolaguirre, José Bergamín, and Manuel Benítez Inglott(26). Against all these witnesses for the title Sonetos del amor oscuro, there is not one for the title Sonetos de amor, which is the only title the family permits to be published. If you look in the Aguilar edition of his Obras (in)completas, the only standard edition so far since none of the other projects have been completed, you won’t find any indication that Federico wrote Sonetos del amor oscuro. Only that he wrote Sonetos de amor.
5. This concludes the things one can do to an author’s work: destroy it, suppress it, alter it, silence the author so it won’t even be produced. Yet I’m going to conclude with two additional types of peripheral censorship. The first of these is censoring the censorship: that is, disguising and suppressing the fact that censorship has even taken place. No one from within the Lorca family has admitted that they ever censored anything. It has all taken place under cover of “protecting their brother’s interests”. One should not publish the drafts because the final versions may turn up. But they don’t. The works are not revised, and not ready for publication, and they require a “philological” edition. But when the author was killed, and was deliberately writing “unproduceable” plays, then of course many of his writings were not ready for publication. This doesn’t mean that given the possibility of publication, Federico wouldn’t have been eager to take advantage of the changed circumstances.
It is admitted by everyone save the Lorca family that it was only because of the clandestine edition of the Sonetos del amor oscuro that an authorized edition was permitted. “Se están editando con el ritmo exigido por la dificultad misma de la tarea” was the explanation of the family spokesman; however Lázaro Carreter, a member of the royal Spanish academy, wrote in the same publication that the sonnets were “rescatados del silencio”(27). In the case of La casa de Bernarda Alba, the textual mysteries of which are not completely cleared up, Lorca’s brother and sister both denied to editors of the work that the family had withheld anything. Nevertheless, in the correspondence of Guillermo de Torre, the editor of the first edition of Lorca’s Obras (in)completas, we see that Lorca’s parents forbid the publication of La casa de Bernarda Alba (“Nuevos documentos”, p. 77).
6. Finally, there is the censorship of secondary information about Lorca. There has been a good bit of this too, and again even the fact that the censorship has taken place is also suppressed. The official investigations and reports on Lorca’s death are not available to anyone, including Ian Gibson. Jorge Guillén’s statements about Lorca’s death were censored, as were those of Rafael Alberti(28).
One of the fundamental sources for Lorca’s biography is a diary kept by the Chilean ambassador Carlos Morla Lynch. Morla sponsored a gay literary salon in Madrid. He published extracts from his diary, with the many homosexual references excised, in 1957. He is now dead. The complete diary sits in a bank vault in Madrid. No one can see it; Ian Gibson tried repeatedly. Morla’s granddaughter, whose address and phone number I’d be glad to give to anyone who wants a go at it, has said she has thought seriously about destroying it. This would be a tragic loss(29).
If someone is silenced and censored, it is because others do not like what he or she is saying or doing. So I thought it would help put Lorca’s works in better perspective to provide a reconstruction of his ideology on the topic of sex. This is not just a question of what caused his works to be withheld; any mention of homosexuality was enough for that, without worrying about niceties. Incidentally, while Spain has less censorship than the U.S., this paper could perhaps not be presented there. It is less acceptable than in the U.S. to discuss homosexuality or even to write biography at all. (Gibson and others have pointed out that there is no tradition in Spain of biography(30). To write biography you must discuss mistresses and homosexual lovers, when these exist.) The gay movement in Spain is where it was in the U.S. twenty years ago.
So I’m going a bit beyond just the question of homosexuality, which is the largest single issue, and try to explain what made Lorca, in the area of sexuality, an innovative, controversial, and even today, perhaps, a dangerous figure. It is based on the following sources: first, his available works and correspondence, with special emphasis on the works that were withheld in the past. Secondly, I have used Federico’s and others’ comments on the works which we do not have. Hopefully access to more texts will permit this to be refined in the future.
I’ve thought about whether I wanted to tone down some of Lorca’s ideas in presenting them to you. Some of them may not please you. But I’ve decided I shouldn’t do that. Some of his ideas were relatively unsurprising in his own day, but are anathema now, and others are ones we have come to accept, while in his own culture they were utterly taboo.
An idea that was quite taboo in his own day, yet which has come into our ideological mainstream, is that the sexual drive is something both inherently good and very powerful. It is fundamental, and can be diverted but not denied. Attempts to suppress it cause it to reappear in strange places: sadism and bizarre religious practices, for example. The goodness of sex was a dangerous idea in Catholic society.
Secondly, social justice is inseparably linked with sexual liberation. A just society cannot be sexually repressive, and a sexually free society will inevitably be a just one(31). Christ came to set people free in a sexual sense as well as a religious and a social sense.
Another idea that recently has become acceptable in the United States, though still not in Spain: one can be a homosexual and be proud of it. At least at some times and in some ways, Federico was: “no era en absoluto ambivalente en cuanto a su homosexualidad, la cual no parecía causarle el más mínimo sentimiento de culpa. Se jactaba de haber amado a los chicos desde la infancia” (Gibson, Agustín Penón, p. 115). As a homosexual, he had his own set of problems and pleasures, frustrations and accomplishments. Certainly Federico was proclaiming that homosexual love is just as good as heterosexual love. This is an idea that, in the abstract, is tolerated or endorsed fairly widely today, at least in the United States. But homosexual couples nowhere have the same rights as heterosexual couples, and in most countries they have no rights at all.
One can write literature with homosexual protagonists. Lorca’s writing career shows a progression towards more open treatment of homosexual characters and concerns. In El malificio de la mariposa, insects represent characters, and there is a strong theme of sexual alienation. In Yerma women speak—in part—for homosexuals. Homosexuals openly appear in Poeta en Nueva York, El público, and the Sonetos del amor oscuro. To write sonnets about one’s homosexual loves and sexual encounters—furthermore, poems that are called among the most beautiful in the language—is a powerful act of affirmation. Such affirmation must be suppressed. I assume that in Federico’s unpublished letters there are comments on his sexual life, and that it was quite scandalous. As Marcelle Auclair very honestly said, after his death, she realized Lorca was leading a double life(32).
Now we’re going to get onto a little bit more dangerous territory. Another part of Lorca’s sexual ideology is that homosexuals, who do not procreate, are the cultural creators (Auclair, p. 105). (This comes up in American gay culture with some frequency.) The artists, the writers, the movers and the shakers, when one looks at society with a broad historical view, are homosexuals. There was a book on this, now quite a rare book, by Alberto Nin Frías: Homosexualismo creador (Madrid: Javier Morata, 1933), which Lorca read. For example, Christ was homosexual. His all-male disciples were a homosexual group. He had one special “beloved disciple”(33). This idea has been around for a long time in Catholic, monastic circles, and Lorca’s long-unavailable “Oda al santísimo sacramento del altar” presents a homosexual Christ.
As part of this, Lorca would add that women are not the movers and the shakers, that women are, and should be, the mothers and the homemakers. Women need men more than men need women. Of all his ideas this is the one I am personally the least happy with, but it was not very surprising or offensive in early twentieth-century Spain. It comes right out of the ancient Greek culture that was seen as a model all over Europe in these circles in the late nineteenth century. Men are the thinkers. (There is a counterpart to this that comes up often in feminist literature: men are the warmakers, women the pacifists.)
In his “Oda a Walt Whitman” Federico expresses the position that one can choose to be homosexual or heterosexual: “Puede el hombre, si quiere, conducir su deseo por vena de coral o celeste desnudo”(34). Straights could decide voluntarily to be homosexual, and maybe they ought to do that. This idea is around today only in the case of Lesbians. If women really get their heads together, and realize how they are oppressed by the patriarchal nature of our society—the natural result, some Lesbians claim, is to turn one’s interest, affection, and sexuality toward women. “Feminism is the theory, Lesbianism the practice.” But to apply this to men—to say that men could voluntarily and freely choose to live a homosexual life and are not forced to do it by a biological identity—is beyond the pale today. Because if men can choose, then straights can decide to be gay, and perhaps they should think about whether that would be a good idea. Gays could also choose to be straight, which is an explosive idea in gay circles even today.
In his last works, Federico seemed to have changed to a different position: that sexual desire is mysterious and uncontrollable. In one of his uncompleted plays, El sueño de la vida—it is also known as Comedia sin título—we find a reference to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Again, this is a play with a Shakespeare play within it. “Todo en la obra tiende a demostrar que el amor, sea de la clase que sea, es una casualidad y no depende de nosotros en absoluto…. La reina de las hadas, Titania, se enamora de un campesino con cabeza de asno. Es una verdad terrible.”(35)
And on the topic of Bottom the ass and falling in love inappropriately, an idea that is still on the outer fringes of the acceptable in this country is that intergenerational love—pederasty, specifically—is just as valid as any other type of love. Love is love. Romeo can be a man of 30, and Juliet a youth of 15. Of consenting sexual acts, it is the one that is most energetically suppressed in the United States. How many plays have you seen on this topic? Of course Federico was legitimizing it by writing about it.
Remember, too, the young man in love with his horse. In La casa de Bernarda Alba, the warm and sensual grandmother, shut up in a room by her daughter, appears with a lamb in her arms. “Mejor es tener una oveja que no tener nada”, she says. Love is love.
Finally, on Lorca’s sexual ideology, there is the importance of homosexuality in Spain’s history. Spain has easily the richest homosexual history of any European country except for Greece. Lorca’s native Andalusia was the land of homosexuality, the inheritor of Greek culture, and his Granada was, until it was destroyed by the conquering Isabel la Católica in 1492, the final product of that tradition. But to explain this history and the politicization of the theme of homosexuality, how it came to be, in Spain, symbolic of heresy and treason, a stake through the heart for women, would take us deep into Hispano-Arabic and Hispano-Jewish culture. It would be a whole separate talk(36). Nevertheless, Lorca knew it as well as anyone at his time did. And he declared himself to be the Poet of Andalusia.
I want to emphasize to you, in conclusion, that the censorship of Lorca’s works is by no means completely resolved. The situation is much, much improved from what it used to be. When one mentions homosexuality and Lorca, ashes and soot are no longer called down on your head. The pretense that he was heterosexual has been dropped, although the significance of his sexuality is still disputed. The Sonetos del amor oscuro are available, even though their title is still censored. There have been two books on Lorca’s homosexuality, a mediocre one in English, by Paul Binding, and a much better one, the doctoral dissertation of Angel Sahuquillo, in Sweden, of which a corrected edition has just been published in Spain.(37).
Yet the effects of the past censorship are still with us. We have had fifty years of scholarship based on partial access to texts, fifty years of editions of allegedly complete works that really weren’t complete. I’d like to have eventually a published volume of The Censored Lorca, to focus attention on just what has been suppressed. But we don’t have this, partly because there is so much embarrassment over the issue, partly because it would inevitably be incomplete.
So when you are reading something about Lorca, ask yourself how much of what Lorca wrote the author had access to. And to what extent that writer knew that his or her own work was based on incomplete knowledge of what Lorca wrote, or on other scholars with such incomplete knowledge. Many writers on Lorca (such as Binding) are not even aware that the Aguilar so-called complete works vary considerably from one edition to another, and that none of them is truly complete. Also ask yourself whether the author had reason to fear reprisals if Lorca’s sexuality was mentioned. Ask yourself, also, to what extent any of us can say anything about Lorca that isn’t provisional, when some of his works, and much of his correspondence, remains unavailable.
Because this is really the bottom line, and this is why I accepted the invitation to speak here today. Lorca’s writings are still not available to us in their entirety. Sometimes it is merely a question of money. When someone comes up with enough cash (I don’t know how much cash), Lorca’s letters to Salvador Dalí will be published. (For someone interested in Lorca and art, they might well be important.) They are in the hands of Dalí’s executor, and presumably, since they are for sale, they are where no harm will befall them. I assume that the materials in the hands of Martínez Nadal, which includes correspondence and some mysterious “personal papers”, will reach safe harbor after his death. Only then will we learn what he has withheld and why. Martínez Nadal, of course, is the one who has given us the most data about Lorca’s homosexuality: it is he who has confirmed for us that Lorca’s lover just before his trip to New York was Emilio Aladrén, and has written at the greatest length about the place of homosexuality in the circles they moved in in Madrid in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s(38). So what is he suppressing, and why?
Yet there are other materials at risk. (I’m only mentioning the major examples.) No one is looking for the revised, complete manuscripts of El público or the Sonetos del amor oscuro. And if it be thought that these are just hypothetical materials that may have mysteriously vanished in the confusion of the Civil War, we have a very good lead on the manuscript of Poeta en Nueva York, yet no one is looking for it. I believe it is in Mexico City, where it was published. I have spoken to the secretary of the publisher, who says she has seen it and knows who has it. (But she won’t tell me.) I will be glad to share all my knowledge and correspondence on the topic with anyone who asks for it. If the Lorca family brought its resources to bear on the problem, we could get the king Juan Carlos involved in an appeal to save the manuscript of Poeta en Nueva York from possible destruction(39). Before they will do that, the Lorca family and Eutimio Martín, their chosen editor for Poeta en Nueva York, will have to admit that the manuscript ever did exist(40). There are known collections of Lorca’s enchanting and voluminous correspondence, yet to produce the correspondence means to turn it over to the same relatives who have suppressed every text they could dealing with Lorca’s gayness. It’s a frustrating situation. If anyone has any suggestions, I’d be glad to hear them. We need a sort of amnesty. If we don’t do anything, and materials are lost, we may share in the responsibility for their destruction.
The artist or writer lives on in his or her works. Even if the works survive in some form, as is the case of Poeta en Nueva York, El público, and the Sonetos del amor oscuro, if we lack the revised or variant texts—and Lorca was a constant reviser—; if we don’t have the manuscripts to prepare accurate editions(41); if we don’t know the order of his poems—Lorca ordered his poems carefully—his light is that much dimmer, and he is a little bit more dead. I, for one, would be sorry to see that happen.
These materials may become available sooner if we can admit that Lorca was a homosexual writer and a homosexual thinker. It is my belief that he would want us to to think of him that way. I hope that now, fifty-five years after his execution, everyone, including his family, can accept this and even rejoice in it.
Table I: Major Lorca Texts Not Currently Available
Text: Hundreds of pages of juvenilia (“a ton of materials”), including Místicas, and “más de cien poemas inéditos”(42).
Notes: In the family archive, now the Fundación García Lorca. A 3-volume edition was promised some years ago. [Two volumes now published in Cátedra.]
Text: “Varios…poemas lorquianos juveniles que obran en el archivo del norteamericano [Agustín Penón] al lado de una pequeña e interesante pieza teatral de quince holandesas, Primitivo auto sentimental, fechada el 4 de diciembre de 1918.”
Notes: “Hubiera querido dar a conocer estos manuscritos aquí, pero el secretario de la Fundación García Lorca, don Manuel Fernández-Montesinos García, ha negado su permiso para ello” (Gibson, Agustín Penón, p. 227).
Text: Last page of El malificio de la mariposa
Text: La niña que riega la albahaca y el príncipe preguntón
Notes: Apparently lost. A forgery purporting to be the lost text appeared in 1982 and is found in the Obras completas as genuine.
Notes: Two poems are known; two lists give slightly different versions of the titles of the other eight and the order of the collection. This “Suite” was auctioned in 1977, and one of the poems we have is only known from its publication in the auction catalogue(43).
Text: Lectures “Paraíso cerrado para muchos, jardines abiertos para pocos” and “Imaginación, inspiración, evasión”; “Presentación” of Sánchez Mejías in New York
Notes: Known only from detailed newpaper reports.
Text: “Habla la santísima Virgen”
Notes: A draft of 11 verses was published by Martínez Nadal in 1974. As discussed above, the entire poem was felt too offensive for publication by its owner Mathilde Pomès; its present location is unknown.
Text: Final manuscript of Poeta en Nueva York, showing the order of the collection
Notes: If the MS were to appear, it would embarrass the official editor of the work, Eutimio Martín, so little effort has gone into finding it. [This manuscript, whose existence was denied by Martín, surfaced in the 1990’s, but remains unpublished as of December, 2002.]
Text: Viaje a la luna (filmscript)
Notes: Full text only available in English translation. Thanks to the persistence of Christopher Maurer, the unpublished portion of the Spanish text, minus a page, has been rediscovered. After months of searching by Emilio Amero’s widow, in Norman, Oklahoma, it was found in the drawer of a telephone table (!) which was about to be discarded. [A complete Spanish text has appeared; not clear if the missing Spanish sections were retranslated from English. A movie based on this script appeared in 1998.]
Notes: Mentioned in a newspaper article in 1930(44). In 1935 Lorca published the poem “Omega”.
Text: Act IV of El público
Text: Two revised manuscripts of El público
Notes: Only the draft, minus Act IV, has appeared.
Text: Act II of El sueño de la vida (Comedia sin título)
Notes: Lorca read scenes from it to friends.
Text: Revised, typed manuscript of the Sonetos del amor oscuro
Notes: Only the draft has appeared. The work has yet to be published in Spain under its proper title. (The word “oscuro” is eliminated.)
Text: La destrucción de Sodoma
Notes: One act was read to friends, and existed on paper. A one-page fragment has been published. Three acts were described to a friend.
Text: Works Lorca was writing while in hiding in the Rosales’ house, just before his death. Unknown sonnets have been twice mentioned.
Notes: The Rosales family says they were turned over to the Lorca family. The Lorca family denies this.
Text: Carne de cañón, La bola negra, La bestia hermosa (El hombre y la jaca), Caín y Abel, La sangre no tiene voz, Casa de maternidad, other projects
Notes: Only very brief notes are known. Probably no more was written. The available information is collected by Marie Laffranque in Teatro inconcluso.
Text: “Personal papers” entrusted to Rafael Martínez Nadal. Nadal has declined to reveal what they are.
Text: Letters to and from Emilio Aladrén(45), Vicente Aleixandre(46), Manuel Altolaguirre, Joaquín Amigo, Pepín Bello, Eduardo Blanco-Amor, Luis Buñuel(47), Luis Cernuda, Salvador Dalí, Francisco García Lorca, his father Federico García Rodríguez(48), Sebastián Gasch, his mother Vicenta Lorca Romero(49), Rafael Martínez Nadal, Carlos Morla Lynch(50), Juan Ramón Masoliver(51), Emilio Prados, José Antonio Primo de Rivera(52), Fernando de los Ríos, Rafael Rodríguez Rapún, Luis Rosales, Eduardo Rodríguez Valdivielso(53), José Antonio Rubio Sacristán, Adolfo Salazar(54), Pedro Salinas, Margarita Xirgu, Jorge Zalamea; very likely others.
Notes: Most of these correspondents were homosexual or bisexual. Lorca’s correspondence with heterosexual correspondents has been published. Some letters to Dalí, Gasch, Morla, Salazar, Rubio Sacristán and Zalamea, and his family have been published. [Some additional letters have been published.]
Table II: Available Texts Previously Withheld from the Public
(Individual Poems Not Included)
Title: Poeta en Nueva York
Date published: 1940
Notes: Unavailable for the first (1938) edition of complete works. Commercial motives rather than censorship. A family representative (Martín) has recently said the work should not have been published at all without an examination of the manuscript, “para ver si estaba en condiciones o no de salir al público”. (“Los puntos sobre los íes”, Quimera, March 1982, p. 17.)
Title: Diván del Tamarit
Date published: 1940
Notes: Set in type in 1936 in Spain, but not published. Unavailable for the first (1938) edition of complete works.
Title: La casa de Bernarda Alba
Date published: 1945
Notes: Known to survive since 1938. Family denied permission for production and publication.
Title: El público (draft)
Date published: 1970
Notes: Family asked that the draft not be published; no other MS has surfaced.
Title: Impresiones y paisajes
Date published: 1973
Notes: Original 1917 edition available only in private libraries of Lorca’s friends. Only brief excerpts were permitted by the family in prior editions of his complete works.
Title: Oda al santísimo sacramento del altar; Oda y burla de Sesostris y Sardanápalo; Oda al toro de lidia (fragment).
Date published: 1974; 1985
Notes: Two extracts from the Oda al santísimo sacramento del altar were published in the 1920’s(55). The other odes were mentioned in letters; their survival and exact titles were unknown.
Title: El sueño de la vida (Comedia sin título) (Act I)
Date published: 1976
Notes: Existence unknown. The title became known only after publication of the text.
Title: Lola la comedianta (libretto)
Date published: 1981
Notes: Mentioned briefly, under a different title (El calesero), in 1963.
Title: Suites (reconstruction)
Date published: 1983
Notes: Family withheld permission to publish completed edition for ten years.
Title: Sonetos del amor oscuro (drafts)
Date published: 1983
Notes: Existence admitted by one family member (Francisco), denied by another after the first’s death (Manolo Montesinos). The validity of the title is still denied. First known to survive when titles were published in 1976. A French translation antedated the Spanish texts by some years, causing protests. Clandestine, not-for-sale edition forced authorized edition.
Title: “Alocución al pueblo de Fuentevaqueros”
Date published: 1986
Notes: A newspaper report of the speech was known, but the text was not known to exist.
Date published: 1986
Notes: Drawings held by the family were known but unavailable, as were photographs. Many drawings held by others had been published some thirty years earlier.
Title: Los sueños de mi prima Aurelia (Act I)
Date published: 1987
Notes: Known to exist.
Notes: Several hundred letters have been published, most in small quantities. Most were unknown before they were published.
(1). Esta conferencia fue presentada en el Duke University Museum, el 23 de marzo de 1991.
(2). José Luis Cano, Los cuadernos de Velintonia (Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1986), pp. 284-285.
(3). “Nuevos documentos relativos a la edición de Poeta en Nueva York y otras obras de García Lorca”, Anales de Literatura Española [Alicante], 5 (1986-87 ), 67-107, at pp. 82-104. [Available online at http://bigfoot.com/~daniel.eisenberg]
(4). In fairness, it must be admitted that if the Lorca family had permitted the publication of Impresiones y paisajes, the Sonetos del amor oscuro, or El público during the Franco period, the government would have prohibited or censored them.
(5). “Notice of Certain Drawings which have Perished or Have Not Been Found”, Mario Hernández, Line of Light and Shadow. The Drawings of Federico García Lorca, trans. Christopher Maurer (Durham: Duke University Press, 1991), pp. 259-261. Hernández has not used the information on unpublished drawings, including at least one lost one, in my “A Catalogue of Lorca’s Drawings”, García Lorca Review, 4 (1976), 13-31, at pp. 26-27.
(6). This is the drawing bearing the words “Amor novo”, published in Salvador Novo’s Seamen Rhymes (Buenos Aires, 1934). When reprinted by Gregorio Prieto in Dibujos de García Lorca, 2nd ed. (Madrid, 1955), the word “Novo” was deleted.
(7). Including the openly suggestive “Material nupcial” on the bust of a sailor. (Compare Obras completas, 23rd ed., Madrid: Aguilar, 1989, III, 1038, and Light of Line and Shadow, p. 233. The best reproduction of this drawing is in Dibujos, Madrid: Ministerio de Cultura, 1986, p. 225.)
(8). See my “Unanswered Questions about Lorca’s Death”, Angélica, 1 (1991), 93-107. [Available online at http://bigfoot.com/~daniel.eisenberg]
(9). Ian Gibson, El asesinato de García Lorca, 3a edición (Barcelona: Grijalbo, 1979), p. 192; Agustín Penón: Diario de una búsqueda lorquiana (1955-56) (Barcelona: Plaza & Janés, 1990), p. 46. “Era un poeta pornográfico” (José Jover Tripaldi, who guarded Lorca just before his execution, quoted in Agustín Penón, p. 56).
(10). On the contemporary reactions to Yerma, see Corpus Barga, “Yerma y la política”, Diario de Madrid, January 6, 1935, reprinted in his Crónicas literarias, ed. Arturo Ramoneda Salas (Madrid: Júcar, 1984), pp. 247-250; also Ian Gibson, Federico García Lorca. 2. De Nueva York a Fuente Grande 1929-1936 (Barcelona: Grijalbo, 1987), pp. 336-338 and 378-379. “Lo que había contra él era un odio feroz de las ultraderechas granadinas. Le odiaba el catolicismo más duro, especialmente por Yerma. A partir de su estreno tiene enemigos serios.” (“Ian Gibson: ‘En 1986 lo sabemos casi todo sobre Lorca’”, La vanguardia, August 19, 1986, pp. 20-21, on p. 21.)
(11). Suzanne Byrd, “La destrucción de Sodoma: A Reconstruction of Federico García Lorca’s Lost Drama”, García Lorca Review 4 (1976), 105-108. Byrd quotes recollections of Luis Sáenz de la Calzada. Of course the statements about incest would not be endorsed by modern anthropologists.
(12). Adolfo Salazar, “La casa de Bernarda Alba”, cited by Marie Laffranque, Teatro inconcluso (Granada: Universidad de Granada, 1987), p. 96.
(13). On all of these, see Laffranque, pp. 72-87, who publishes the fragment of La bola negra.
(14). The 120 Days of Sodom, trans. Pieralessandro Casavini [Austryn Wainhouse] (Paris: Olympia, 1962), I, 9.
(15). That La niña is a forgery was argued by André Belamich in his introduction to his French translation of Lorca’s theater. There is also, in my opinion, a false letter, that to Addie Cummings, the mother of Lorca’s friend and lover Philip Cummings (Epistolario, ed. Christopher Maurer, Madrid: Alianza, 1983, II, 132). I believe this letter, whose original has not been seen by any scholar, was “created” by the highly unreliable and inventive Philip Cummings.
(16). From an interview I conducted with Schonberg in 1974.
(17). “Poeta en Nueva York”: Historia y problemas de un texto de Lorca (Barcelona: Ariel, 1976), p. 181, n. 155.
(18). One of the most striking examples of loss of manuscript pages through lack of care is the first four pages of the autograph of La casa de Bernarda Alba, lent by Francisco García Lorca to a student magazine at Vassar College, reproduced in facsimile in the magazine and never returned, or returned but misplaced. (La casa de Bernarda Alba, ed. Mario Hernández, 2nd edition, Madrid: Alianza, 1984, p. 163.) Similarly, as late as 1969 a page of the autograph draft of “La imagen poética de don Luis de Góngora” was published by Gregorio Prieto, Lorca en color (Madrid: Nacional, 1969), p. 150; according to Christopher Maurer (Conferencias, Madrid: Alianza, 1984, I, 87) this autograph draft is now lost. “El manuscrito autógrafo de ese poema [“Luz”] se encontraba, hasta 1976 al menos, en poder de Luis Rosales, a quien Lorca se lo regaló, al igual que otros poemas. No he podido consultarlo, porque ha desaparecido de la biblioteca del ilustre poeta, según su propio testimonio” (Miguel García Posada, Obras II: Poesía II, Madrid: Akal, 1982, p. 770).
(19). Apparently no one has looked at Pomès’ writings on Lorca to see if there are allusions to this poem. Her potentially most relevant writings are an afterward (pp. 141-154) to the French translation of Romancero gitan. Poème du cante jondo. Chant funèbre pour Ignacio Sánchez Mejías (Paris, 1959), and “Le paganisme de Lorca”, Europe, Nos. 345-346 (January-February 1958), pp. 167-169.
The comment we do have is: “Mieux vaut ne pas traduire la réponse de la Vierge qui est d’une fantaisie échevelée qui ne choquerait peut-être pas en Andalousie, ‘tierra de María Santísima’, autant dire d’une sainte patronne qu’on met à toutes les sauces, mais ferait hausser les épaules aux incrédules pour ne rien dire des croyants”. (“Un poème inédit de Lorca”, Le journal des poètes, No. 5, May 1950; quoted by Eutimio Martín, Poeta en Nueva York, Barcelona: Ariel, 1981, p. 191. On Martín’s edition, see below, note 40.)
Miguel García-Posada censors Pomès when he translates her comment in his Obras II. Poesía II, p. 727.
(20). In “El último día de Federico García Lorca en Madrid”, in El público (Oxford: Dolphin, 1970), p. 15, and in a conversation with me in 1987. During this conversation Nadal denied the existence of the large collection of Lorca’s letters in his possessions, which others have informed me of. A new piece of information on Nadal’s collection has appeared: Light of Line and Shadow, p. 260.
(21). “Hay muchos lorquistas en torno a la familia que no han mencionado la palabra homosexual en sus escritos por temor a problemas. Yo no he querido ser así. Hay que ser honrado y decir que Lorca era homosexual.” (“Ian Gibson: ‘En 1986 lo sabemos casi todo sobre Lorca’”, La vanguardia, August 19, 1986, pp. 20-21, on p. 20).
(22). Neruda’s text, reproduced in the 1983 princeps of the Sonetos del amor oscuro, is from his Para nacer he nacido (Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1978), pp. 107-108. The famous text of Aleixandre is from his “Federico”, Hora de España, No. 7 (1937), 43-45, reprinted in Homenaje al poeta García Lorca contra su muerte (Valencia-Barcelona: Ediciones Españolas, 1937), pp. 27-30, and included in the Aguilar edition of Lorca’s works.
(23). For documentation of many of the above points on the Sonetos del amor oscuro, see my “Reaction to the Publication of the Sonetos del amor oscuro”, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 65 (1988), 261-271 [available, without the editing imposed by the journal as a condition of publication, at http://bigfoot.com/~daniel.eisenberg], and Víctor Infantes, “Lo ‘oscuro’ de los Sonetos del amor oscuro de Federico García Lorca”, in Federico García Lorca. Saggi critici nel cinquantenario della morte, a cura di Gabriele Morelli (Fasano: Schena, 1988), pp. 57-88.
(24). The letter may most conveniently be read in Epistolario, ed. Christopher Maurer (Madrid: Alianza, 1983), II, 126-127. Unfortunately I cannot remember who it was who explained that the missing word was “Pope”, if in fact anyone previously has said it. If I have taken someone’s idea without proper credit, it is my failure of memory. If no one has made this suggestion before, I cannot conceive of anyone else who would receive, in June, 1929, such condemnation from Lorca, whose name or title would in turn be censored. On the Pope in 1929—Lorca was soon to write “Grito hacia Roma”—see Christopher Maurer, “Notes on the Poems”, Poet in New York (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1988), pp. 259-276, at p. 275.
(25). Miguel García-Posada, “Un monumento al amor”, ABC, March 17, 1984, pp. 43-44.
(26). “Reaction to the Publication”, p. 264.
(27). Both quotations from ABC, March 17, 1984.
(28). The concluding chapter (XV) of Guillén’s “Federico en persona” was excluded from the Aguilar Obras (in)completas until the 1980’s. Alberti: Litoral, 8/9 (1969), p. 14.
(29). The address (in 1985) of Morla’s granddaughter is: Verónica Morla, Príncipe de Vergara, 57, Esc. A, 8º B, 28006 Madrid, (91) 411-03-38. As suggested below, the king Juan Carlos is the most appropriate person to request the salvation of these materials, vital for Spain’s literary and intellectual history.
(30). “A country that is often hostile to biographical inquiry” (Christopher Maurer, “The Black Pain” [review article on Gibson’s biography], The New Republic, January 1, 1990, pp. 29-34, on p. 20).
(31). “¿Antes de la revolución social no hubo en Rusia la revolución sexual?” (Corpus Barga, p. 250).
(32). “Yo misma y varios de sus numerosos amigos hemos podido frecuentarlo durante años sin sospechar que era homosexual” (Vida y muerte de García Lorca, trans. Aitana Alberti [Mexico: Era, 1972], p. 98). In the interviews with José María García Carrillo and in the chapter on Francisco (“Frasco”) Santalla Sánchez, Agustín Penón obtained, and Gibson has now published, some of the most candid comments ever on Federico’s homosexual activities. For example: “Si veía a alguien que le gustaba en la calle, especialmente si era joven, sencillamente lo llamaba, le daba cincuenta pesetas y trataba de citarse con él” (Agustín Penón, p. 108). “Federico decía siempre ‘yo he estado con todos los chicos de Asquerosa’. Adoraba a los campesinos y en especial a los catetos; le gustaban sucios y sudorosos…. Se sabía en Granada que era maricón perdido; pero la gente lo aceptaba porque él se imponía con su personalidad” (p. 152).
(33). See the article “Beloved Disciple” in the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, ed. Wayne Dynes (New York: Garland, 1990).
(34). “Federico le reprendió con asco esta tendencia bisexual suya [de José María García Carrillo], puesto que él no aceptaba ninguna sustitución de los hombres” (Gibson, Agustín Penón, p. 116).
(35). Obras completas, 23 ed., II (Madrid: Aguilar, 1990), 1081.
(36). In my articles “Spain”, “Jews, Sephardic”, “Granada”, “Juan II and Enrique IV”, and others in the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, ed. Wayne Dynes (New York: Garland, 1990), and in the article “Homosexuality” in the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Medieval Iberia, ed. Michael Gerli (New York: Garland), I presented some of the evidence on this. There is much additional work to be done, and some topics needing further research are outlined in “Research Topics in Hispanic Gay and Lesbian Studies”, [MLA] Lesbian and Gay Studies Newsletter, 18.2 (July, 1991), 1, 5-7; 18.3 (November, 1991), 27-30; 19.2 (July, 1992), 6-8; 19.3 (November, 1992), 7-11. [Available online from http://bigfoot.com/~daniel.eisenberg] So far it has not been possible to publish a Spanish translation of the above articles. “Granada” and “Juan II— Enrique IV” appeared in translation in Entiendes…?, No. 13 (junio-julio-agosto, 1990), pp. 18-19. I have disowned the inaccurate translation of the article “Spain” published in Gai Hotsa, No. 43 (enero-febrero, 1989), pp. 11-14.
(37). I have reviewed both in Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 65 (1988), 415-416. [Available online at http://bigfoot.com/~daniel.eisenberg]
(38). “Federico García Lorca. Siete viñetas”, in his Cuatro lecciones sobre Federico García Lorca (Madrid: Fundación Juan March—Cátedra, 1980), pp. 11-36.
(39). The person who told me that she had recently seen the manuscript of Poeta en Nueva York, which was in the hands of a relative of hers, was Pilar Sáenz de García Ascot, Bergamín’s former secretary. She wrote me that, in her judgement, the help of “políticos” would be necessary. Her address in the mid-1970’s was Río Nazas, 73-5, 06500 Mexico D.F. She worked at the Institut Français d’Amérique Latine, Río Nazas, 43, México 5, D.F.
(40). On Martín’s edition, which I reviewed in Anales de la Literatura Española Contemporánea, 8 (1983), 228-230 [available online at http://bigfoot.com/~daniel.eisenberg], see the discussions of Christopher Maurer, “Notes on the Poems” (note 25, above), pp. 259-267, and the introduction of María Clementa Millán, Poeta en Nueva York (Madrid: Cátedra, 1987). Millán has the fuller bibliography, although neither is exhaustive.
(41). Among other instances, such is the case of the Romancero gitano. García Posada, p. 694, mentions “copias, o autógrafos correspondientes a primeras redacciones, deben de existir en poder de diversos amigos del poeta, o de sus herederos. Llamo la atención sobre una posible primera redacción del ‘Romance de la guardia civil española’, conservada por los herederos de Ramón Ruiz de Peralta”. In his edition of Primer romancero gitano. Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías (Madrid: Castalia, 1988), p. 78, he adds further references to these manuscripts; it is not clear if the “posible fragmento” of the “Romance de la guardia civil española” mentioned on p. 288 is the same. The MSS of many of Lorca’s published poems and drawings are today not to be found.
(42). “Papeles suyos inéditos los hay a granel. No sólo en los archivos de la familia, sino por todos lados. Lorca regalaba sus dibujos, manuscritos…. En la Fundación García Lorca hay, creo, más de cien poemas inéditos de Federico, de su primerísima época. No conocemos todavía la primer Lorca. Yo quisiera que la Fundación, de una vez por todas, diera a conocer cuanto antes ese material. Me parece intolerable que no se haya publicado todavía, porque da pistas.” (“Ian Gibson: ‘En 1986 lo sabemos casi todo sobre Lorca’”, La vanguardia, 19 August 1986, p. 20.) Note that Gibson has not been permitted access to this material held by the allegedly open Fundación García Lorca. In 1987 he said “el año que viene parece que la Fundación García Lorca va a publicarlos” (“Ian Gibson: ‘Tras haber concluido la biografía de García Lorca, creo que ya puedo morir tranquilo’”, La vanguardia, November 10, 1987, reproduced in Boletín cultural, December 1987, p. 73). He also specified that there were “más de setenta poemas de juventud, una serie de prosas místicas donde Lorca indaga en el terreno religioso-metafísico, unas obritas de teatro… [ellipsis in the original]. De modo que todavía no conocemos a nuestro hombre.”
(43). “A pesar de nuestros esfuerzos y gestiones, no hemos podido obtener del adquiridor que nos facilitara una copia” (Suites, ed. André Belamich, Barcelona: Ariel, 1983, p. 249). Also Eutimio Martín, “Un poema y un dibujo inéditos de Federico García Lorca”, Ínsula, 380-381 (July-August, 1978), 1 and 24.
(44). “Poeta en Nueva York”: Historia y problemas de un texto de Lorca, p. 185, n. 171.
(45). “Desde Estados Unidos, Federico le escribió docenas de cartas apasionadas y por toda respuesta el cabrón le mandó una postal de una montaña. Emergiendo de uno de los picos de la mañana, había dibujado un pene en erección” (Gibson, Agustín Penón, p. 107).
(46). “Lorca envió un muchacho a Aleixandre con carta de presentación. Aleixandre, inhibido, le mandó a Cernuda con la carta, y Cernuda se enamora con la pasión que se expresará en Donde habite el olvido” (told me by José Antonio Frías, June 21, 1991, who said his source was his professor Luis García Montero).
(47). “Hay que pensar que haya cartas de Lorca a Buñuel, de Lorca a Blanco-Amor, etc.” (Gibson, “Tras haber concluido”.)
(48). “Other letters in the Lorca archives, many of which Gibson believed to be lost, will allow future biographers a more intimate look at the poets’ relation to his family: his letters to his parents (and theirs to him) during the triumphant visit to Buenos Aires; the letters home of his brother and two sisters; the hundreds of pages of juvenilia, much of it autobiographical, written in 1917-18” (Christopher Maurer, “The Black Pain” [review of Gibson’s biography], The New Republic, January 1, 1990, pp. 29-34, at p. 32).
(49). “Her frequent letters to her son, none of which Gibson was able to consult” (Christopher Maurer, p. 32).
(50). “Hay corresponsales del poeta que no han proporcionado todos los textos que estaban dispuestos a dar (Carlos Morla Lynch) o han decidido no dar ninguno (Rafael Martínez Nadal)” (Antología comentada, ed. Eutimio Martín, II, Madrid: De la Torre, 1989, 327).
(51). Juan Ramón Masoliver, “Federico, siempre próximo en la distancia,” La vanguardia, August 19, 1986, p. 21.
(52). “En un artículo sobre la muerte de García Lorca escrito por un admirador del fascista francés Robert Brasillach, se llegó a afirmar hace algunos años que: ‘Existe una correspondencia entre Lorca y José Antonio, y una carta del supuesto “Aragon español” al jefe de la Falange empieza con “Mi gran amigo.”‘“ (Ian Gibson, En busca de José Antonio, Barcelona: Planeta, 1980, p. 210.)
(53). Told to me by Juan de Loxa, director of the Casa-Museo García Lorca. One letter from Lorca to Rodríguez Valdivielso has been reproduced by the Casa-Museo on a postcard.
(54). “De 1921 y 1922 se conserva un correspondencia intercambiada entre Madrid y Granada, donde se trasluce el interés de Salazar en la formación y carrera de Lorca. En este epistolario un entusiasmo desbordante por las obras y proyectos del joven poeta se complementa con consejos sagaces—como de tío o hermano mayor—sobre su vida y futuro.” (Andrew Anderson, “Adolfo Salazar, el poeta forastero’: Una evocación olvidada de Federico García Lorca,” Boletín de la Fundación García Lorca, 4 , 114-19, at p. 116.)
(55). “Terminada la contienda, madrugué para rematar mi antología Las trescientas con su “Oda al Santísimo Sacramento”, causante de que la censura me la retuviera hasta el verano del 41.” (Juan Ramón Masoliver, “Federico, siempre próximo en la distancia,” La vanguardia, August 19, 1986, p. 21.)