Book Review: Blood Wedding

Blood Wedding, by Federico García Lorca in a version by Ted Hughes

It is easy to see, when one knows a little about the lives of both García Lorca and Ted Hughes, why the materials in this play were of interest to both people.  The first was a Spanish playwright those reputed homosexuality and Republican political loyalties led him to be executed by the Nationalist forces early in the Spanish Civil War.  The second is an English poet whose wife committed suicide in part over his adultery, which unites the two in a strong interest in the consequences of unfaithfulness to marriage vows, a strong area of focus in this dark play.  Although I often read plays [1], this is definitely one of the darker plays I have read, the second of the authors I have read.  I read La Casa De Bernalda Alba, his last play, as a high school student in the playwright’s native Andalusian Spanish, which was a very difficult read.  This play, in a poetic and beautiful translation, was by far an easier read even if its subject matter of adultery and honor killings set in rural Spain was certainly not easy to read from that point of view.

The contents of the play cover only about 70 pages, including a cast listing of obscure stage actors and actresses at the beginning when this particular version of Lorca’s play was staged in 1996.  The play itself has three acts, and the stage directions are extremely sparse.  The dialogue is also very poetic.  To be sure, a lot of it is morbid, but it is definitely poetic, and expresses a rather dark and gloomy story.  A young man who is going to inherit a family farm in an area plagued by violence agrees to marry a somewhat melancholy girl from a troubled family who is in love with the husband of her cousin.  She runs off from her wedding with her paramour and the results are as unpleasant as one would expect with a manhunt resulting from families uniting to eliminate the source of shame in their world.  The last lines of the poetry reflecting death through being stabbed is poetic and extremely morbid, and the poem as a whole plays with aspects of blood, like marriage uniting blood, like blood being shed through violence, and blood pouring on the earth in the sort of ritual sacrifices made by parents for the well-being of their children.

It is hard to see exactly what kind of audience would most appreciate this kind of play.  There are few people who have a taste for high poetry that also has a high degree of violent imagery, who would be willing to sit through poetic account of a drama written by a man interested in newspaper reports of life in rural Spain.  Even so, there are many elements of the honor killings discussed in this play that would resonate with violent societies in the Middle East as well as in the historical past of more remote parts of our own country where the honor of wives and daughters could be a matter of life and death.  This play is a reminder, if any were necessary, of the dark heart that beats within people and the seriousness of choosing one’s mate properly.  Those who give their heart poorly can face rather drastic and serious repercussions for so doing.  Most of us can be fortunate enough that we have lived decently in such a fashion that no blood wedding ever came our way, but the chemistry of violence and sexuality is one that all too many of us have at least some familiarity with if not in our own lives at least with others whom we know.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, History, Love & Marriage and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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