The Ingenious Gentleman and Poet Federico Garcia Lorca ascends to hell by Carlos Rojas
Orginal title – El Ingenioso hidalgo y poeta Federico García Lorca asciende a los infiernos
Translator – Edith Grossman
Source – Personnel copy
As I have not worried to be born, I do not worry to die.
Federico Garcia Lorca source
Well when I went to London earlier this year I had in mind to buy a couple of books for Spanish lit month ,the first I brought was the Cela I review last week .I also had in mind another from the wonderful Margellos series from Yale knowing they had published a few translations from Spanish ,but when I saw this on their list and it was in stock at the LRB ,I couldn’t resist it the title alone is one that draws you in then add to the fact it is a Grossman translation you know you are on too a winner .SO Carlos Rojas is an older Spanish writer this book was first published in 1980 ,he has won the Nadal and Planteta prize in Spain and his uncle was president of Columbia in the fifties .He has written over twenty works of fiction ,essays and Poetry .
The magic of free will in Hell incarnates those memories on stage .Still ,the flashes from the past are always painted , not live .If I go up on the boards , so often much confused by their apparent veracity, they vanish immediately at my approach .
He can see and imagine his past but no more .
Now this book is rather like that advert on UK tv in the fact it is what it says in the Title and that is we follow the well-known Spanish Poet Lorca after he has died .As he descends through Hell ,his life is shown to him in a number of theatrical performances .The first is of his early life ,but as he grows accustom to Hell he starts to discover other people and shows ,thus expanding on his own life as he sees people like a man who arrested him ,the judge that he once got involved with ,writers including Sadro Vasari ,whom is a made up writer that Rojas has used in two other books that follow this ,artists of the time .The book is in four sections and you could say forms a bizarre journey through his own life , but also he sees the points at which he could have change the route of his life and at one such point he could have had two lives . Then the is the rise of Franco in the background ,which also saw the splitting of the generation of 1927 which ,Lorca was a main member off which split with the rise of Franco , and of course Lorca was killed in 1936 by Franco’s forces .
“Did you also hold your head high when the governor asked you to arrest that man , Senor Ruiz Alonso ?”
“The acting governor ”
“Lieutenant Colonel Velasco .That was his name .I don’t know why I remember it now ”
“Did you hold your head high when Lieutenant Colonel Velasco asked you to arrest the Poet ?”
“Yes sir I did because an inevitable justice ,divine justice seemed to settle our debts !
Lorca sees the men that arrested him .
Now this is one of those books that is hard to pin down in a review after a single reading ,I will go back another time and read it again .The book I imagine was one of the first post Franco novels coming five years after his death .You can see Lorca as maybe an example of all that was wrong with Franco .Lorca’s life is interesting as he crossed the paths with most of the major figures of Spanish culture pre civil war ,I was left with a deep feeling of want to learn more about the people mention in this book and Lorca himself Rojas love of this poet is evident in the book .As for the trip to Hell well Thomas Aquinas talk of four parts of hell ,whether we can transpose the four parts of this book to his vision of the four parts is hard to say , in ways it does in others in doesn’t maybe its best to say it covers a perceived view of a journey through hell .The Spanish wiki compares the book a Sonata ,I can see the comparison to music as each part of the book has a different feel like a piece of music or Opera the first is how he got there the Spiral ,then his arrest is the second part ,then we see his destiny in the third part and finally a trial .Well unusual ,different ,stunning writing and translating .Yale have done it again another thought provoking read in the Margellos series .