The Duende Pathways of Madrid

Madrid. The city so central to Duende. The city which was the inspiration for Duende. The city I came to know so intimately while writing Duende. A city which, it seems, I always knew. And I’ve no clear idea why.

Perhaps the lives of the past and of the present criss-cross and intersect. This is something I experience and very strongly as I walk through the streets of Madrid. I feel as if I’m walking in the footsteps of my characters while they also walk alongside me. And Lorca, Federico Garcìa Lorca, who walked these same streets, too.

Yesterday, my first day in Madrid, and I got the metro to Calle de Juan Bravo. To stand there for the first time in a street I’d written about was, to say the least, incredible. And then to find the apartment in which my characters lived and to know, for sure, that this was the place. Right beside the Calle de Josè Ortega y Gasset which, when Nayo and Josè lived there, would have been called by another name. And to realise that Rosa, the character in the second novel, Love at the end without dawn, she lives on the same street (which I knew) but she lives at the opposite end and on the other side.

To walk up and down the Calle de Josè Ortega y Gasset, a beautiful philosopher who appears as a character in my novel and to know what an important part he played in the creation of the Second Republic…And then, the man of integrity that he was, after a year of watching ideals dissolve into crudity, he turned his back on the Cortes, a parliament founded on solid egalitarian principles soon split apart. Internal disputes amongst divisive Left-wing factions; power-hungry bastards happy to sign any Faustian pact with suerte; a Civil Guard who committed exactly the same atrocities as they did when led by a dictatorship…The utopian beginnings of the Second Republic quickly floundered and ultimately, the corruption it engendered contributed to the ensuing civil war.

So it was with respect and awe that I walked the Calle de Josè Ortega y Gasset. And then the Calle Ramòn de la Cruz where, as a young artist, Nayo held his first exhibition and where, if war hadn’t broken out, he would have held his last. 

Then the Calle de Goya. Las Pinturas Negras. The Shootings of the 3rd of May. Tomorrow. The Prado.

And the Alcalà. The beauty of the Alcalà. I stand on the shoulders of giants and walk in the footsteps of angels. I walk with respect for all those who have walked there before me. I bow my head with reverence for those who trod these self-same streets, too.

Yesterday, my 4 hour walk culminated in the Plaza de Santa Ana. The statue of Lorca. The statue of Lorca. I stood in front of Lorca at the end of my journey. 

Today, my journey also ended in Lorca as perhaps, it always will. Lorca, the man I begin and end with. Lorca. Who touched my soul when i was 17. Lorca. The writer who i always said I loved but knew nothing about. Lorca, Who enters my writing and my dreams. Lorca. Federico Garcìa Lorca. Lorca, who captures exactly what I mean when he says:

‘At the heart of all great art is an essential melancholy.’

And the Fascists killed him.

All great art is melancholy.

And the fascists shot him dead.

 

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