Not many playwrights are able to laugh when their first work is shouted off the stage and closes after the first night. But in 1921, at the age of twenty-three, Federico Garcia Lorca had few illusions about the average theatre-goer of his time. Professor Reed’s chapter on the contemporary Spanish theatre describes how, with the notable exception of Valle Inclan, it was moribund. Middle-class audiences did not want their imagination stretched or their prejudices challenged. Only a little mockery of their institutions and mores was permissible before a play was wound up with comforting predictability.
The influence of the great socialist professor, Fernando de los Rios, the ubiquitous rural poverty, (and later the human misery in New York after the crash,) made sure that Lorca could never believe in art for art’s sake. His drama was to develop a stronger and stronger cutting edge without