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The Tragic Myth

The Tragic Myth: Lorca and Cante Jondo

Edward F. Stanton
Copyright Date: 1978
Pages: 152
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130jg1v
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    The Tragic Myth
    Book Description:

    With literature, music constituted the most important activity of poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca's life. The two arts were closely related to each other throughout his career. As a child, Lorca imbibed traditional Andalusian songs from the lips of the family maids, whom he would remember with affection years later. At a very early age he began to study piano, and during his adolescence, music and poetry competed for primacy among his interests. His first book was dedicated to his music teacher, who instilled in him a love for the world of art and creation.

    In part I of this study, Edward F. Stanton examines Lorca's theoretical and practical approach tocante jondo, the traditional music of Andalusia, as seen in his lectures on the subject and in the 1922 concurso. In part II, he searches for direct and -- far more important -- indirect echoes of this music in his work. Part III explores the mythic quality of Lorca's art in relation tocante jondo. Throughout, Stanton illuminates a new dimension of the poet's work.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5750-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Prologue
    (pp. ix-xii)

    It is surprising that nobody has treated in depth the subject of Federico Garcia Lorca andcante jondo, or flamenco, the traditional music of his native Andalusia. With literature, music constituted the most important activity of his life. The two arts were closely related to each other throughout his career. As a child, Lorca imbibed traditional Andalusian songs from the lips of the family maids, whom he would remember with affection years later. At a very early age he began to study piano, and during his adolescence, music and poetry competed for primacy among his interests. His first book was...

  4. I. THEORY AND PRACTICE

    • Chapter One Theory: The Lectures
      (pp. 3-13)

      Perhaps the best way to enter the world of Garcia Lorca andcante jondowould be to look at the poet’s lectures on the subject. They will serve as an introduction to the traditional music of Andalusia, at the same time revealing Lorca’s attitude towards it. This is an indispensable preliminary to a reading of his poetry from the point of view ofcante jondo.

      In early 1922, Lorca wrote and delivered a major lecture in preparation for the “Concurso del Cante Jondo” in June of that year.¹ Its purpose was to create interest in the approaching competition and to...

    • Chapter Two Practice: Granada, 1922
      (pp. 14-18)

      A history of the Concurso del Cante Jondo, held in Granada in 1922, pertains more to a biography of Lorca than to a study of his works. But before leaving all else behind for the poetry, it would be well to take a brief look at this important event in the modern development of flamenco. It is closely related in time and conception to Lorca’s lectures and hisPoema del cante jondo.

      Manuel de Falla seems to have been the motivating force behind the concurso.¹ The composer was deeply concerned about the degeneration of the ancient music of southern Spain....

  5. II. ECHOES AND MOTIFS

    • Chapter Three Echoes: Space, Time, the Saeta, Visceral Suffering, Extremes
      (pp. 21-31)

      There are not many direct echoes ofcante jondoin Lorca’s work. The sources of his poetry are hard to trace since he drank from the well of popular inspiration; only rarely did he draw on written materials. When we point out an apparent correspondence between a traditional text and one of Lorca’s, we are often merely indicating our own reference and not that of the poet, who probably received his own impetus from a live source.¹

      Most of Lorca’s allusions tocante jondooccur in his early work. InMariana Pineda,for example, the heroine recites a slightly modified...

    • Chapter Four Motifs and Themes
      (pp. 32-52)

      In addition to the direct and indirect echoes ofcante jondoin Lorca’s work, there are several common motifs and themes in these two expressions of Spanish art. The most important of these includepena negra, the peculiarly Andalusian sense of suffering; the guitar, characteristic instrument of flamenco and a neglected motif in Lorca’s poetry; and the bull and bullfighting, which are closely related to the world ofcante jondoin Spanish life.

      We have seen thatduende, the muse of flamenco and to a certain extent of Lorca too, thrives under duress. It reveals itself musically in dissonance, or...

  6. III. LORCA, CANTE JONDO, AND MYTH

    • Chapter Five The Mythic Land: Andalusia
      (pp. 55-81)

      Few poets have been more rooted in their native soil than Garcia Lorca. From it he drew his nourishment and his inspiration. “I love the earth,” he said; “I feel myself joined to it in all my emotions. My most distant memories of childhood have a taste of the earth” (II: 958). In Lorca’s work, Andalusia is more than a mere theme or lyrical background. Often it constitutes the very marrow of his poetry. It is the touchstone of his career, hisquerencia:the place to which he always went back for vital and artistic regeneration. Thequerenciais the...

    • Chapter Six The Mythic Man: The Gypsy
      (pp. 82-89)

      Just as Andalusia provides the typical setting, the gypsy is the archetypal inhabitant of Lorca’s poetic land. This fact would be of little importance to us if the gypsies did not also play an essential role in the world ofcante jondo.They have made up a large proportion of the best interpreters of this music since the eighteenth century. The attitude toward life known as “flamenco” manifests itself above all in the members of this race. More than a style of music or dance, this attitude represents an “integral way of feeling the cosmos and the small world of...

    • Chapter Seven Myth and History: The Saeta
      (pp. 90-112)

      As we have seen, thesaetaprobably left a greater impression on Lorca’s poetry than any other form ofcantejondo.In order to reveal the mythic roots of traditional Andalusian music, I will discuss at some length the history of thesaeta.Then we will be prepared to see how Lorca interprets this religious song in hisPoema del cantejondo.

      Each spring, as Lorca says, thesaetaleaves “tracks of warm lilies” in the skies of Andalusian towns and cities. During the early morning hours of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, the people offer these songs of contrition and love...

  7. IV. THE TRAGIC MYTH

    • Chapter Eight Conclusion
      (pp. 115-120)

      Music formed an intimate part of Garcia Lorca’s life and work. His charisma as an individual and a poet was perhaps due above all to a basic musical feeling, attested to by those who knew him. Lorca carried the songs of his land in the blood, as if by a millennial inheritance. Vicente Aleixandre, in his Prologue to the poet’s collected works, compares him to an old, fabulous, and mythiccantaor, as wise, eternal, and rooted in the earth as a mountain (II: IX). From his native soil Lorca imbibed the musical grace and sense of tragedy that give his...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 121-130)
  9. A Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 131-134)
  10. Index
    (pp. 135-140)