granada la bella

where anything is possible




Here in López Sancho’s famous caricature, we see Prize-winner Diego Bermúdez, El Tenazas, and his select audience at the Cante Jondo Competition held in Granada; June 1922.

Lorca there in the middle of the audience, clutching his forehead. Manuel de Falla is just in front of him or beside him.

At the front, in the thick glasses is Andrés Segovia.

La nina de los peines, Pastora Pavón, is waiting for her turn, the only woman, foreground left.

A  man who played a hugely influential role in the life of the poet was undoubtedly Fernando de los Ríos Urruti, born in Ronda in 1879. From March 1911 he was Professor of Spanish Political Law at the University of Granada and Lorca came into close contact with him when he started his studies there in 1916. Influenced by the Madrid Free Institute of Education, he saw that the key to the rebuilding and renovation of Spain after the defeat of 1898 lay in the reform of the education system. In 1919, deeply impressed by the workers’ protest against the cacique  Juan Ramón La Chica, he joined PSOE, being elected Socialist Deputy for Granada to the Cortés this same year. Lorca's brother Francisco comments that he and Federico were members of a group characterised in its majority by a marked apoliticism, spontaneously rejecting any form of party discipline. That didn’t mean, he added, that we weren’t all inclined towards an open and generous Left, with a social conscience and a sharp sense of criticism towards Spanish society, particularly in its provincial forms. Lorca could never be counted as one of de los Ríos’ active student supporters.

The consensus of opinion is that the leading member of El Rinconcillo group was FRANCISCO (PAQUITO) SORIANO LAPRESA (1893-1934). Ian Gibson describes him as a kind of Spanish Oscar Wilde. He was tall, excessively fat, due to a hereditary illness that affected many of his family. He had long, straight black hair, thick, sensuous lips and a palid complexion. He was a Doctor of Philosophy and Letters of the University of Granada. He passed the entry exams to the Consular Corps, but never applied for a job. He taught at the Escuela de Estudios Arabes in Granada. In the early 1920s, the Rinconcillo had a project to set up a library on property he owned in La Zubia dedicated to Abentofail and other Arabic poets of Granada. He lived with his family in a second floor flat at Puentezuelas 9, where he had a magnificent library, which, it is said, included a large section of erotic and pornographic literature. He was said to practice sadomasochism. He was President of the Music Conservatory and a member of PSOE, organising the Cultural Section of the Casa del Pueblo. Lorca dedicated the chapter of Impresiones y paisajes entitled Jardines to him, referring to him as "an exotic and admirable spirit". Around 1918-19 he was interested in Lorca’s sister and believed that Lorca opposed the relationship. He married Concha Higaldo Rodríguez, a cheerful and good-humoured girl who liked to wear outrageous costumes and behaved in a exageratedly mannered way. They made a scandalous and exotic couple. This I got from Ian Gibson.

However, when José Mora, a close friend of Lorca's during his university period, selects two men who were invaluable guides on Lorca’s "somewhat arbitrary and confused way to knowledge  as an autodidactic", besides Francisco Soriana Lapresa, he picks out the old university librarian, so cultured, so friendly, so enthusiastic and well-mannered... Between the old librarian and Lorca arose at once a deep friendship, Mora tells us. To be able to enjoy that huge, abundantly stocked - in the classics, if not in contemporary works - library under the guidance of such intelligently and enthusiastically given advice was a great advantage to the young poet. They stayed behind in the evenings after closing time; through the tall windows that looked out on the Botanic Gardens entered the rosy light of dusk, the smell of  myrtle, magnolias and jazmin, and the singing of the countless nightinggales which had built their nests in the luxurious foliage of the Garden. One of those tall windows is pictured right and the library itself is very much as it was in Lorca's day. “Look, you go up the ladder; your legs are younger than mine; the book we're looking for must be up their on that shelf, the tenth or the eleventh from the right. It’s ages since it’s been taken down; nobody asks for these things any more.”


Martín Domínguez Berrueta, Professor of the History of Art.

the numbers, 2,368 officially matriculated students in the year 1911-12, enabled a close, informal relation between students and teachers, as in the case of Martín Domínguez Berrueta, Professor of the History of Art.

Martín Domínguez Berrueta (1869-1920), was Professor of the Theory of Literature and Arts in Granada from 1911 to 1920. He was influenced by the Free Institute of Education and sought to overcome the traditional formality of the Spanish University and to create an atmosphere based on sharing and cooperation. From 1913 he organised his annual study trips. Mora congratulates Buerrueta on managing to secure from the ministery a modest subvention for these study trips, which all seemed to pass through Salamanca, the professor’s home town. It was on return from his second trip, Mora points out, that Lorca came home with the notes for his first book in his suitcase.

Lorca’s friend, José  Mora Guarnida, describes Berrueta thus: “He was a spectacular parody of a teacher. His cheap histrionics and his vanity inclined him towards exaggerated and exalted attitudes.”

Nevertheless, his influence, along with that of Fernabdo de los Ríos, t the university in general and on Lorca in particular, is indisputable.

PAGE UPDATED ON 20/04-2019