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Félix Grande

Literature and flamenco: anonymous and forgotten songs URL:

In the year 1881 Antonio Machado y Álvarez, Demófilo, recommended that "true artists pay attention to the vast and beautiful treasures found in this spontaneous poetry, which is thus priceless on the market, and doesn’t follow any law other than that of expressing the most intimate sentiments of the heart and the clearest and most tenacious ideas of understanding in all of their purity". Supporting his argument about the poetic grandure of the flamenco coplas, he also made a call "to lay claim to the people’s right to be considered as an important factor in the culture and civilization of Humanity".

In 1922 Federico García Lorca wrote "one of the marvels of cante jondo, apart from its melodic essence, consists of its poems, which are astonishing. The most infinite scales of Pain and Sorrow [are] placed at the service of the purest and most precise expression. There is nothing, absolutely nothing like it in all of Spain, neither in style, nor atmosphere, nor emotional justness ( …) There is nothing comparable to these songs in delicacy and ternura, and I must insist again on the infamy that is being committed by relegating them to oblivion".

Ninety years after García Lorca wrote this elogy and that fulminating word ("infamy") very few poets and scholars have fought against this long-standing injustice: Luis Rosales, Alberto Fernández Bañuls and Eduardo Pérez Orozco, Francisco Gutiérrez Carbajo, José Manuel Caballero Bonald, Francisco José Cruz, José Luis Ortiz Nuevo, Antonio Hernández... But those who decide which poetic traditions should be studied and praised at university continue to overlook the Cancionero Anónimo Olvidado, one of the most spine-chilling poems in the history of Spanish poetry, both in its art and popular traditions.

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