Lorca, Buñuel, Dalí: Forbidden Pleasures and Connected Lives
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Lorca, Buñuel and Dalí were, in their respective fields of poetry and theatre, cinema, and painting, three of the most maginative creative artists of the twentieth century, their impact felt far beyond the boundaries of their native Spain. But if individually they have been the subject of various studies, their connected lives have rarely been considered. The connections between them are the subject of this illuminating book.
They were born within six years of each other and, as Gwynne Edwards reveals, their childhood circumstances were very similar. Each was affected by a narrow-minded society and an intolerant religious background which equated sex with sin and led all three to experience sexual problems of different kinds: Lorca the guilt and anguish associated with his homosexuality; Buñuel feelings of sexual inhibition; and Dalí virtual impotence. Having met during the 1920s at the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid, they developed intense personal relationships and channelled their respective obsessions into the cultural forms then prevalent in Europe, in particular Surrealism. Rooted in emotional turmoil, their work - from Lorca’s dramatic characters in search of sexual fulfilment, to Buñuel’s frustrated men and women, and Dalí’s potent images of shame and guilt - is highly autobiographical. Their left-wing outrage directed at bourgeois values and the Catholic Church was strongly felt, and in the case of Lorca in particular, was sharpened by the catastrophic Civil War of 1936-9, during the first months of which he was murdered by Franco’s fascists.The war hastened Buñuel’s departure to France and Mexico and Dalí’s to New York. Edwards describes how, for the rest of his life, Buñuel clung to his left-wing ideals and made outstanding films, while the increasingly eccentric and money-obsessed Dalí embraced Fascism and the Catholic Church, and sawhis art go into rapid decline.
boring: ‘How many hours of boredom and irritation did I spend in the village school!’19 By the time he entered the school, the standards set by an earlier teacher, Antonio Rodríguez Espinosa, a friend of the Lorca family, had evidently declined, but young Federico’s dissatisfaction was also a sign of a lack of interest in academic work that would colour his education for many years. In 1907, as we have seen, the family moved to the village of Asquerosa, and Lorca attended the primary school there
Institute, and there he was introduced by a law student to writers and thinkers he would never have encountered at the School of the Saviour. His encounter with the works of Rousseau, Marx, and Darwin confirmed the doubts that he had already begun to entertain concerning Catholic teaching about the creation of the world, the origin of man, and the nature of social justice, and led him to abandon what little faith he still had left. Buñuel’s adolescence provides evidence too of his growing
sleeping arrangements and associated nighttime activities could only be imagined. And then there was Lorca himself, the director of La Barraca and a known homosexual. All this amounted to an opposition that merely increased as time passed. During the autumn and winter of 1930–1, Buñuel was, as we have seen, in the United States at the invitation of Metro-GoldwynMayer. His return to Europe on 1 April 1931 occurred, therefore, when the new republican government was about to come into office in
favour of Communism in later life. Buñuel’s mother, María, was only eighteen when she married the forty-three-year-old Leonardo after his return from Cuba. The daughter of the owner of a Calanda inn, she was remarkably beautiful: tall, broad-boned, and with an aristocratic bearing that still managed to turn heads when she was more than sixty years of age. Unlike the early life of Lorca’s mother, María’s had not been beset by difficulties, and she quickly settled into the bourgeois environment
many of his supporters now shifted their allegiance to the Falange Party of José Antonio Primo de Rivera, whose extreme views have been mentioned earlier. The polarisation of Right and Left, which had been steadily growing over the past few years, therefore became even more intense, and between February and July led to bitter confrontations in which, on both sides, physical attacks, kidnappings, and assassinations became the order of the day. Angered by the activities of the Falange Party, whose