18 dic. 2010

Lorca as Dilettante

I've often had to combat the notion of Lorca as child-like dilettante or señorito andaluz. Christopher Maurer, in Lorca y su arquitectura del cante jondo (2000) provides a lot of ammunition for me. Lorca (as I interpret Maurer) is almost a professional folklorist with wide interests in every form of Spanish poetry from the popular anonymous tradition from the Galician-Portuguese medieval lyric to the romancero viejo to the cante jondo.. Of course, the field of Spanish folklore was only being invented / resurrected by Menéndez Pidal during Lorca's own time, since Machado y Álvarez's work had seemingly fallen into a black hole.

Of course later flamencologists are going to find errors in Lorca's lecture. If he had gotten everything right, anticipating their exact conclusions, it would have been a miracle. Félix Grande objects to a letter from Lorca in which he says that his guitar teacher sang and played "genialmente." He says that is nearly impossible for someone to sing and play guitar at the same time with "genius." But of course this is not a mistake on Lorca's part, as much as a difference in nuance. "Genial" can be just an exuberant term of praise in Spanish, especially in a letter. Even Grande has to backtrack in a footnote and say that some singers have accompanied themselves on the guitar. Obviously if Lorca heard one of his guitar teachers sing and play at the same time, we have no reason to disbelieve him. If this is the kind of judgment that made Lorca seem like dilettante...

Since Lorca was not an academic, but a poet and playwright, his approach to these subjects was opportunistic, In other words, he wanted to learn about these subjects for his own poetry, not for the sake of sheer erudition. His erudition was considerable, but oriented toward pragmatic ends.