19/12/07

LORCA'S ALPUJARRA.

The Spanish poet Federico García Lorca was murdered on the 18th of August 1936 during the first stages of the Spanish Civil War. He became a martyr and a legend. The most translated poet in the Spanish language, his work is venerated wherever it is read, but there are still aspects of his life that are not very well known and one of them is Lorca’s connection with the Alpujarra.

The town hall of Pitres has placed a monument in the main square commemorating the visit that Lorca made to the town in 1932. It consists of a photograph of Lorca standing in front of a Y shaped tree and an extract of a letter to the poet Jorge Guillén which says: “Here I am in Pitres, a village with no voice, or pigeons from the mountains, crucified on the Y of the tree.” It is hard to know what to make of this remark.

The presence of Lorca in the Alpujarra is a matter of controversy as he did not write much about it, but there are a few letters, postcards and photographs that prove that he was regular visitor until 1934, two years before his tragic death. His first contact with the area was with the village of Lanjarón, the door of the Alpujarra. Federico’s mother, Vicenta Lorca, was ill with a liver condition and a doctor prescribed a treatment of the water from the Capuchina fountain of Lanjarón, famous for its curative properties since Mozarabic times. Therefore, between 1917 until 1934 the whole Lorca family spent a few weeks every year in Lanjarón, at the best hotel the Gran Hotel España.

Federico’s first written testimony about Lanjarón that has survived is a postcard to the Cuban diplomat and poet Melchor Fernández Almagro on the 17th of August 1924. “ What an admirable place. You should come to visit this paradise. I have found curious romances and tales.” Lanjarón had become a spa and a meeting place for Granada’s bourgeoisie. After the baths in the morning, the afternoons were dedicated to walks and excursions. One of Federico’s favourite places was Lanjaron’s Moorish castle and he posted numerous postcards of it. In one of them, sent to the critic Sebastian Guash, besides praising the curative properties of the water, he describes Lanjarón as: “Sierra Nevada, which means that you are in the heart of Africa, at the entrance to the Alpujarra. The most incredible fantasies develop in the most serene and logical way.”

Fragmento de un artículo publicado el 12/11/2007 en THE OLIVE PRESS.

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