The Ingenious Gentleman and Poet Federico García Lorca Ascends to Hell

Carlos Rojas, Author, Edith Grossman, Translator
Carlos Rojas, trans. from the Spanish by Edith Grossman. Yale Univ, $24 (224p) ISBN 978-0-300-16776-4
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Rojas reinvigorates the martyred Spanish poet from the inside. Lorca, murdered in 1936 by Francoist rebels, narrates his own postmortem odyssey in energetic prose, full of vivid imagery and provocative discussion. In “The Spiral,” the first of four juicy chapters, Lorca is new to this place that Rojas calls Hell and full of observations. In the first few pages, he refers to “Al Capone’s charity soup,” Nazi sculptor Arno Breker, and the confrontation of Ulysses and Achilles. Sometimes Hell is Lorca’s own personal theater where he can view key incidents from his past; sometimes it’s a kind of cafe where he can debate with ghosts and figures from his life, which are not always the same thing. Lorca is arrested in this underworld and pressed to devise a strategy for defending his life. The warning sentence “Prepare for your trial” is repeated more than a dozen times in chapter two, “The Arrest.” Lorca does indeed go on trial, and does come to gain an understanding of his life in a larger context; and so, of course, does the reader. The richness of Rojas’s writing isn’t random creativity; it’s rooted in a deep and insightful knowledge of his subject, making the book exceptional. (Apr.)
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