Apocryphal Lorca: Translation, Parody, Kitsch by Jonathan Mayhew

By Jonathan Mayhew

Federico García Lorca (1898–1936) had huge, immense influence at the iteration of yankee poets who got here of age in the course of the chilly struggle, from Robert Duncan and Allen Ginsberg to Robert Creeley and Jerome Rothenberg. In huge numbers, those poets haven't in simple terms translated his works, yet written imitations, parodies, and pastiches—along with essays and important stories. Jonathan Mayhew’s Apocryphal Lorca is an exploration of the afterlife of this mythical Spanish author within the poetic tradition of the United States.

            The e-book examines how Lorca in English translation has develop into a particularly American poet, tailored to American cultural and ideological desiderata—one that bears little resemblance to the unique corpus, or perhaps to Lorca’s Spanish legacy. As Mayhew assesses Lorca’s substantial effect at the American literary scene of the latter 1/2 the 20th century, he uncovers basic truths approximately modern poetry, the makes use of and abuses of translation, and Lorca himself.

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It is still possible to hear weak presentations at otherwise respectable academic conferences that offer reductive and distorted readings of Lorca, falling back on all of the old clichés. Perhaps because of the legacy of Lorca’s problematic reception, a bad paper on Lorca tends to be much worse than the typically mediocre paper on almost any other modern Spanish author. If the Spanish professors giving such papers can fall victim to such pitfalls, so too can English-speaking readers of poetry whose knowledge of Lorca is mediated through American poets and translators.

Kennedy, they wanted to know what Lorca could do for their country, not what their country could do for Lorca. The need to fit Lorca into a specifically domestic (American) project has always been of greater urgency for The American Agenda 23 translators than the scholarly task of situating him within the context of Spanish literary history. 4 Is this an act of cultural appropriation, in which a foreign text is made to serve a specifically domestic agenda? Obviously it is. Yet Lorca’s book was written in New York, and was first published there in 1940 in a bilingual edition, long before it became available to readers in Spain.

While disqualifying other interpretations, Kaufman does not himself attempt an accurate view of Lorca: his poems, rather, enact creative misreadings of a few brief passages from two or three texts from Poet in New York. In this context, it is not particularly important to determine what Lorca himself might have meant by the phrase “el azul crujiente” in “Norma y paraíso de los negros”: the American poet has made Lorca’s phrase (or, more accurately, Belitt’s translation of Lorca’s phrase) distinctively his own.

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