"Today's Spain is called Federico". These words, from right- wing Spanish premier Jose Maria Aznar in 1998 upon the centenary of his birth, highlight the degree to which Federico Garcia Lorca has become a symbol for post-Franco Spain. His untimely death in 1936 at the hands of the insurgent Granada authorities ensured his immortality as only early death can, and gave his image as a metaphor for creative vibrancy brutally cut down.
Lorca's appeal in his lifetime had much to do with his personality. Impulsive and swaggeringly confident, he built a reputation based on recitals of his poems, many of which he never wrote down. He became, in Luis Bunuel's words, "his own living masterpiece". He played the piano magnificently, his surrealist drawings could stand comparison with those of Miro or Dali, and his mind was constantly conceiving projects, of which he would realise "four at the most". This maelstrom yielded lyrical poetry, difficult experimental drama, and the more naturalistic rural trilogy for which he is most famous: Blood Wedding, Yerma, and The House of Bernarda Alba. His work contemplated nature, fertility, and almost always death; today he is the most produced Spanish dramatist in the English-speaking world.
Leslie Stainton's is a sensitive appraisal, and though the prose may not share the subject's joie de vivre, in the context that may not be a bad thing. Lorca emerges as a great artist with even greater potential, who sparkled with the promise of art, and for whom Spain is right to be still grieving. --David Vincent