Lorca and Modernity

Here are some paragraphs I wrote for an introduction to a book I am working on:

My 2009 book Apocryphal Lorca: Translation, Parody, Kitsch, dealt with the reception of Federico García Lorca in the US, with a focus on poets active in the 1950s and 1960s, such as Allen Ginsberg, Jack Spicer, Robert Creeley, and Frank O’Hara.

Given the North-American orientation of this project, I tried to refrain as much as possible from arguing in favor of any one particular view of Lorca himself, positing instead a multi-faceted “author-function.” Still, Apocryphal Lorca did rest upon certain unstated ideas about Lorca and his place in twentieth-century poetry; it was, in fact, a book about Lorca, even though it did not attempt to put forward an affirmative view of his work. As in a drawing exercise in which the student sketches the spaces in between the parts of a piece of furniture (for example) rather than drawing the object itself, I was writing about Lorca by looking at the absence of certain features of his work in his English-language translations.

Lorca and Modernity will bring some of my implicit assumptions to the fore in order to reflect on the question of what it means for Lorca to be (arguably) the single most significant figure of twentieth-century Spanish poetry. Succintly stated, the problem is that Lorca’s poetry is affiliated with Spanish literary and intellectual traditions that view modernity itself with a great deal of ambivalence. The major critical problem posed by his work, in my view, is what to do with these ostensibly “unmodern” aspects of his work. Lorca’s seeming resistance to modernity becomes significant in both the national (Spanish) and international contexts, for Lorca is not only significant within Spanish literary history but for our conceptions of modernism itself.

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