Lorca, Buñuel, Dalí: Forbidden Pleasures and Connected Lives
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.
that, if he were able to turn this poem into a play, they would immediately stage it at the Teatro Eslava. Lorca was overjoyed. It would be his first adventure in the theatre, and was in the capital, no less. Quite clearly, the reaction of Martínez Sierra to Lorca’s performance of poetry illustrates both the power of the young man’s personality and his ability to make the written word come alive. It was something that would continue throughout his life, deeply affecting many other listeners.
revealed how shocked he was by the liberal habits and sexual behaviour of young Parisian men and women whom he observed ‘kissing in public, or living together without the sanction of marriage’.10 And when he and some friends attended a ball, Le Bal des Quat’zarts, which had the reputation of being the most original orgy of the year, he was completely dumbfounded when one of the students ‘placed his testicles delicately on a plate’ and when, outside the venue, he saw ‘a naked woman . . . on the
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subsequently echoed in the other towns and villages where the play was performed. The Right, of course, hated the production. From the outset, they had objected to government backing for a company they regarded as spreading left-wing propaganda, an accusation that the production of Fuente Ovejuna merely reinforced. Furthermore, considering actresses to be little different from prostitutes, what could be said about a company in which there were twenty or so men and only five or six women? The
time, then, in which Lorca was very clearly much more political than either Dalí or Buñuel, both in his work and in his public actions and statements. He would, to his cost, continue to be so in 1936. Dalí, in complete contrast, had reverted from being a revolutionary with Marxist ideas to someone who, dazzled by fame, money and self-advancement, now sympathised with Fascism. As for Buñuel, a man of life-long communist sympathies, he seemed to be caught in terms of his principles between the