Patria… Motherland… Spanish people attach deep meaning to the word, and many thousands of them died during the war of 1936-1939 as they upheld and defended the concept, which they felt represented their values, whether on the side of the Nationalists or the Republican democratic government.


Reflecting on the many wars fought in the last hundred years, starting with the terrible conflict of 1914, I am inevitably drawn to reminisce on the one engagement that came closest to my life: the Spanish Civil War, that other awful ideological confrontation of 1936 to 1939, accounting for many hundreds of thousands of deaths, that brought about the fragile and tortured society I was born into a few years after the conflict ended.


Life, as I grew up, was very much affected by the consequences of the war and the reality it had brought about in Spain; the many lives lost and many more destroyed were ominous reminders of the extreme polarity of ideas that had prevailed and remained ever present.


Those radical opposing convictions had produced, among the huge number of people slaughtered, and forever to my country’s shame, one notorious, devastating casualty at the very beginning of the conflict: the death of Federico García Lorca, fundamental Spanish poet, artist, playwright, musician and uniquely inspiring human being…


“…Extraordinary, yes, in his ordinary life rhythm, with a naturalness that goes beyond nature, because it is a gift from heaven…” (Jorge Guillén)


“I have never seen, gathered as they were in him, grace, genius, a winged-heart and a limpid waterfall… He was a multiplier of beautifulness.” (Pablo Neruda)


“…He had an intelligent expression, bursting with vitality, but neither his figure nor his movements were immediately attractive. However, the moment he entered his comfort zone… reciting poetry, playing the guitar or the piano or talking about things that really interested him… the whole of his being acquired supple movement and perfect elegance. Mouth and eyes harmonised in such admirable way that no one could remain unmoved by the great attraction emanating from his persona. Words flowed, acute and penetrating, the timbre of his voice, rather dark, acquiring a unique beauty. Everything became transformed around him. Effectively, his presence added beauty to his surroundings, like the swan adorns the lake as he glides through its waters…” (Ana María Dalí)



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