Laffranque, Marie

Marie_Laffranque_1

Researcher and Hispanist, author of numerous articles and books on García Lorca that had a profound academic and literary influence. During Franco’s regime, her French house was a refuge for Marxist thinkers and Spanish anarchists persecuted by the dictatorship. She was born in 1921 in Saint Marcel, in the Gascon Occitania, and died on July 13, 2006 in Toulouse.

Her libertarian and unredeemed spirit distanced her from the usual movements and schools. Her own education broke the molds of orthodoxy. In her view, intellectual work was nothing other than an ethical activism in favor of lost causes and the most needy. She studied in the public schools of her region and later at the University of Toulouse where she obtained her doctorate with a thesis, her first, on the astronomer and historian Posidonius of Rhodes (135 BC – 51 BC). It was the beginning of her career as a researcher and, later, as research director, in the branch of Philosophy, at the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, directed by Alain Guy in Toulouse. Then, in line with her vocation for philosophy, she became interested in Angel Ganivet. Her book Las idées esthétiques de Federico García Lorca (1967), her second thesis, the fruit of ten years of research, is an indispensable tool for scholars of the poet from Granada.

First edition of ‘Play Without a Title', by Laffranque.
First edition of ‘Play Without a Title’, by Laffranque.

Despite her quadriplegia, which forced her to move around in a wheelchair, Laffranque developed an unstoppable intellectual and social activity, collaborating with groups of activists in favor of non-violence, against the Algerian war or in favor of minorities, and publishing dozens of rigorous booklets on various authors. Until the last hour of her life, her house was a refuge open to exiles and politically persecuted people. Laffranque, notes Fatima Rodriguez in the obituary published in El Pais, rejected institutional teaching, although to her regret she became a teacher for other researchers and Hispanists who followed in her footsteps.

Her book ‘Las idées esthétiques de Federico García Lorca’ (1967), her second thesis, the fruit of ten years of research, is an indispensable tool for scholars of the poet from Granada.

The contributions in the study of García Lorca are numerous. Among them is the transcription and refined version of the original manuscript of Play without a Title (or The Dream of Life, according to other Lorca followers), an unfinished work of which only one act is preserved belonging to Lorca’s Trilogy of the Impossible Theater. The first edition of Play without a Title, together with The Public, appeared in 1978 in Seix Barral with a prolog by Rafael Martínez Nadal. Her bibliography on the poet from Granada includes the articles García Lorca and the Spanish War (1984) and earlier, in 1975, Open and Closed Doors in the Poetry and Theater of Federico García Lorca (Open and Closed Doors in the Poetry and Theater of Federico García Lorca).

As a Hispanist, she was the first translator into French of the works of Vicente Aleixandre and Gabriel Celaya. In Hispanic American Notebooks she translated into French part of the work of María Zambrano (in particular Forest Glades)and of Juan David García Bacca, the philosopher from Navarre who died in Ecuador in 1992 after a long exile.

For the University of Granada she prepared in 1985 the edition of Teatro inconcluso. Fragmentos inconclusos e inacabados which placed in the hands of the reader, for the first time, the definitive edition of unfinished pieces such as Diego Corrientes, Photographic Enlargement, Photographic Drama, Changeable Rose, Posada, Dragon, The Destruction of Sodom, The Black Ball, Maternity House, the aforementioned Untitled Play and the famous The Dreams of My Cousin Aurelia, the last one Lorca worked on before his assassination in the summer of 1936. For Laffranque, Lorca had not kept these unfinished texts by chance: “This is belied by the traces he left in the press in the 1930s, in the archives and in the memory of so many friends and acquaintances, the announcement, summary or partial advance of a series of works with titles, plots, outlines and some part already put together”.

Marie Laffranque

Earlier, in the 1950s, Marie Laffranque had already prepared the chronology of Lorca, then unfixed and fragmentary, which served Arturo del Hoyo to structure the first attempt of complete works in the publishing house Aguilar in 1954.

Laffranque visited the poet’s birthplace in Fuente Vaqueros on several occasions, sometimes accompanied by Isabel García Lorca, for whom she shared a great esteem. Juan de Loxa, first director of the birthplace, recalled, a day after her death, the visit he made in 1987 to the museum: “Miguel, the driver of the Provincial Council, carried her up to the barn [of the birthplace], while José Rodríguez Montero [the guide] carried the wheelchair”. José Caballero, some surviving actors from La Barraca and Eduardo Rodríguez Valdivieso accompanied Marie on that memorable occasion. On the other hand, faithful to her rejection of tributes, in 2004 she declined to receive the Pozo de Plata, the highest distinction awarded by the house where she was born.

She maintained a cordial and constant collaboration with Francisco García Lorca until her death in 1976. One day, perhaps to detract from her work or to excuse her insistent questions, she said to him: “Paco, don’t you think that half of us Lorca fans are crazy?”, Francisco replied: “Not half. More, María, more”. Years later, the founder of the museum of Fuente Vaqueros, the poet Juan de Loxa, coin with ironic tenderness an adjective of strong roots that encompasses all scholars obsessed with the work: “Enlorquecidos”.

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