The Phlegmon and the Poem (1907)

The first stay at Asquerosa (Disgusting)-Valderrubio ended when Federico García Lorca finished his basic schooling. The parents of the young schoolboy sent him to continue his training in Almería on a date impossible to specify. According to an investigation by Juan José Ceba, it was around 1907. On the other hand, Marie Laffranque , in her chronology , delays it a year. Lorca says in an interview that it was 1905. It is documented that he submitted the application for the high school university entrance examination at the General Technical High School of Almería in August 1908 (in the May call, he had not yet reached the age of ten, as required) and, although the family’s purpose was for him to study there for at least the first year, an illness caused by infected phlegmon that deformed his face forced his them to interrupt the stay and bring him back to Granada, the capital, to where the family moved in 1909.

Federico sat his examination on September 21, 1908 at the General Technical High School of Almería. The test, which is kept signed by the examinee himself, consisted of a dictation taken from one of the chapters dedicated to the history of Pastora Marcela from Don Quixote , a three-digit division and a multiplication.

The choice of Almería was the result of the transfer to this city in 1903 of his teacher of first letters, Antonio Rodríguez Espinosa , colleague of Vicenta Lorca in Fuente Vaqueros and a faithful friend of the family. Espinosa, to round off his income, let his house to a small group of students. In some unpublished memoirs dated 1955, the teacher writes: “Federico García Lorca, the remarkable poet, was only six years old [that is, in 1904] when his father, a close friend of mine and one of the most ingenious and fortunate men I have ever known, took him to Almería, where I was a teacher at the Hospicio school ”. The dates, however, do not coincide between the different investigations that have tried to reconstruct the passage through Almería of young Lorca.

Federico García Lorca in his high school years.
Federico García Lorca in his high school years. / Photo: FGL Foundation

Federico himself, in an autobiographical note written in 1928, describes this passage in his life as follows: “At the age of seven [that is, in 1905] I went to Almería, where I was in a Piarist school and where I began to study music. There I took the entrance exam and there I had a disease in the mouth and throat that prevented me from speaking and put me on the verge of death […]. However, I asked for a mirror and saw my swollen face, and since I couldn’t speak I wrote my first humorous poem, in which I compared myself to the fat Sultan of Morocco Muley Hafid. ”

The only certainty is that he lived in Almería, along with other boys from Vega de Granada, who went there with the same academic purpose. According to Juan José Ceba’s research, Federico first lived in the teacher’s house on Balmes Street, which was also the school, along with his wife and his four daughters, the oldest born in Fuente Vaqueros. According to the same source, due to the poor condition of the house, the teacher moved with his family to the school in Barrio Alto. Federico remained in Almería until the spring of 1909. On May 25, he is transferred from Almería to Granada.