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literature

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Spanish Literature  
 
page: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  

Another of his recurrent themes is that of marginalization or ostracism, which relates to his position as outsider and to the oppression he experienced. Far from silencing him, however, his exclusion became the catalyst for his poetic expression.

The second author, Federico García Lorca, is the more universally renowned. His homosexuality is also very well known, but it is habitually disregarded or camouflaged in critical circles.

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Lorca's play, El público (The Public [1930]) and the poems collected in the volume Poeta en Nueva York (Poet in New York [1940]), both written at about the same time, are the works in which the author most seriously delves into questions of homosexuality.

Like Cernuda in his early period, he does so in surrealist fashion, although the issues of sexuality, passion, love, and prejudice are expressed quite clearly. True love, Lorca tells us in El público, surpasses any notion of gender.

Critics traditionally have found the work problematic, seeing in it a perverse, tortured sexual preoccupation. Recently, however, the play has been deemed key to an understanding of Lorca's ideology and aesthetics. Many of the violent images that appear in the play foreshadow Goytisolo's later aggressive stance toward social norms.

The poems included in Poeta en Nueva York are also surrealistic. In the "Ode to Walt Whitman," Lorca reconstrues some of the same images that Alas had used in La Regenta to animalize and disfigure Celedonio--namely, that of the toad.

Many critics read Lorca's tragic trilogy (three plays that deal with the sexual and social frustrations of women in conservative, rural Spain--Bodas de sangre [Blood Wedding, 1933], Yerma [1934], and La casa de Bernarda Alba [The House of Bernarda Alba, 1936]) allegorically, and see in it aspects of the playwright's own sexuality, particularly his defiance, rage, and ultimate frustration.

Another member of the Generation of 27, surrealist film director and author Luis Buñuel, also used homosexual themes in his cinematic and literary work. In "El arco iris y la cataplasma" ("The Rainbow and the Poultice," 1927), a poem he intended to include in his book El perro andaluz (The Andalusian Dog), Buñuel deliberately provokes the prudish reader.

The poem is essentially a series of gratuitous, indecorous questions, including comments that graphically describe homosexual acts. Throughout all of his work, Buñuel shows an intense preoccupation with sex, religion, and the defiance of authority.

Homosexuality in Novels Set during the Civil War

Given the extraordinary proliferation of homosexual characters in period pieces chronicling the years of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), one might think that homosexual activity was at least partially responsible for the conflict. The works in question are post-Civil War novels, and, as in their nineteenth century counterpart, La Regenta, these characters pop into the text not for their own sake or to allow the authors to explore homosexuality seriously, but to represent depravity and imminent doom.

Nobel Prize winner Camilo José Cela narrates the beginning of the Spanish Civil War by tracing the impact of the mounting historical events on the lives of several Madrid residents in his 1969 work, San Camilo, 1936. The novel includes two important gay characters who never meet each other.

The first is Pepito la Zubiela, the so-called "faggot from Cádiz." The other is Matiítas Serrano, who plays a more prominent role. Both are ridiculous, pathetic, simple-minded, puerile, and utterly devoid of political opinions, despite the social turmoil that surrounds them, as if being homosexual precluded a person from participating in any aspect of life other than the sexual.

Cela returns to the gay theme in Mazurca para dos muertos (Mazurca for Two Dead Men [1983]), a novel that also chronicles the war years although this time within the confines of a small, Nationalist-occupied town in the region of Galicia. In Mazurca, the author again intertwines sex, violence, and death--constants throughout his work.

In this case, however, the primary gay (or bisexual) character is a woman--la señorita Ramona, a somewhat wealthy eccentric. Ramona is an arrogant spinster who has an almost flippant acquaintance with death. Sexually, she is an impetuous instigator who manipulates the women and men around her into meaningless encounters.

Ana María Matute's novel Los soldados lloran de noche (Soldiers Cry at Night [1964]) depicts a sordid sexual relationship between two women, Dionisia and Elena. The nature of the connection between Elena and Dionisia is suggested rather than stated overtly, thus giving the impression that it is considered too awful to be mentioned explicitly (though it may be that General Franco's censors compelled the reticence).

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