The first goal of this introduction is to lay out the underlying assumptions that guided my interpretation of the events that occurred at Lake Eden in August 1929. It is always hazardous to try to deduce the motivations of people who are no longer here to speak for themselves, so I leave it to readers to decide whether they agree with my conclusions. Continue reading
Here is what we know for sure. In late August 1929, the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca took an overnight train from New York’s Grand Central Terminal to Burlington, Vermont, en route to the tiny village of Eden Mills, Vermont. There the 31-year-old Spaniard spent ten days at a cottage beside Lake Eden with his friend Philip Cummings, a 22-year-old Vermonter he had met in Madrid the summer before. Continue reading
The simple fact that Lorca visited Vermont, let alone spent ten days there with a young American friend, went unacknowledged for decades by Professor Ángel del Río and others in the Spanish Department at Columbia University. Since del Río, in particular, was fully aware of Lorca’s trip to Vermont and his friendship with Philip Cummings, it is hard not to view his silence as a deliberate act of concealment. Continue reading
Del Río’s silence about the Vermont interlude continued until 1954, when he began working on the introduction for a new edition of Poet in New York being planned by Grove Press. In a carefully worded letter to poet Ben Belitt, translator for the new edition, he expressed his concern about just how much to reveal: Continue reading
Kessel Schwartz completed his PhD at Columbia under Ángel del Río in 1953 and accepted a teaching position at the University of Vermont. He and del Río stayed in touch after Schwartz moved to Vermont to begin his new job, which paid very poorly but came with an unexpected benefit. Continue reading
Interest in Cummings reached its peak in the 1980s, especially in the years leading up to the 50th anniversary of Lorca’s death in 1986. During that period, Cummings was approached by a series of scholars, biographers, journalists, and filmmakers who wanted to talk with one of the last surviving people to have known Lorca personally. He usually enjoyed these encounters, but he had long ago said all that he wanted to say and ended up repeating the same stories and catchphrases to each visitor. Continue reading
All the writers discussed on the previous pages helped tell the story of Federico García Lorca’s time in Vermont and his relationship with Philip Cummings, but their descriptions of the Lake Eden episode shared one common weakness—they relied almost exclusively on Cummings himself as a primary source.
Many of the facts about Lorca’s time in Vermont are now in the public sphere, but there are multiple other aspects of the story that have never been explored. For example, the seven secrets listed below illustrate the complexity of the social environment in which the events at Lake Eden unfolded. The full context of these secrets and their significance to the larger story will be discussed in the chapters that follow. Continue reading