Duende by Lizzie Eldridge
‘Duende. That most vital struggle, when touching death is knowing, and truly knowing, life.’
In the years leading up to the Spanish Civil War, two men fall in love, a relationship which, in public, can never be accepted. Throughout their lives, Nayo, an artist, and José, a philosopher, wrestle with the duende, a force propelling passion, authenticity and fearless confrontation with death.
Their journey coincides with that of real-life people: Salvador Dalí, Ortega y Gasset and, most significantly, Federico García Lorca who becomes their friend.
Nayo and José are part of this wider movement in European art when creativity flourished amidst escalating violence. Provoking parallels with the instability of our contemporary world, Duende unfolds within a complex and vibrant landscape in which survival is paramount while existence is tenuous and forever under threat.
” An engaging and unforgettable novel of love”
Five Star Review on Amazon By G. Polley
“Duende” is a Spanish word that refers to the deeper, more earthy notes and sounds of life where all is not light. Set in Spain (mainly in Barcelona and Madrid) in the years between World War One and the Spanish Civil War of 1936, duende is a prominent presence in the novel as Spain devolves into increasing social discord and violence. Yet the novel isn’t only about that; it is also about one of the great love stories in literature as these two young men begin their careers and grow as life around them descends into the darkness of civil war and Francisco Franco’s fascist regime.
Once I opened “Duende” and began reading, I found it impossible to put the book down.
The story follows the lives of Antonio (“Nayo”) and José from their school days in Barcelona to their studies and developing careers in Madrid and does it so well that I felt I was there as Nayo painted and José studied and taught philosophy as their world gradually descended into violence. Reading “Duende” is more than reading about these two men and the world they lived in, it is being there, being inside their heads as they struggle to comprehend the forces that threaten to tear their world apart. I have seldom read a novel that is quite like this one, that includes in such detail the intellectual and creative struggles of its characters, and makes it so lifelike and lively that I felt a part of the story. How is it possible to include so much information about what a philosopher teaches and an artist struggles with and make it vitally interesting to a reader? Yet Lizzie Eldridge does it, does it superbly well, and does it in her debut novel. I am impressed.
The love between Nayo and José is tender, poignant, and beautifully drawn. I felt I knew these two men, that they’d be a joy to have coffee with, that I couldn’t wait until Nayo’s next exhibit (I even knew what painting I wanted), and I feared for them and their friends as the situation in Madrid worsened.
Lizzie Eldridge is a writer to watch. I look forward to her next book. This one is a definite winner.
About the Author
Lizzie Eldridge (1967-) grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but moved to Malta in 2008 where she wrote her first novel, Duende. Having taught theatre in UK universities for 14 years, Lizzie now works as a freelance artist, focusing on writing, acting, directing and teaching.
Duende includes Federico Garcia Lorca amongst its characters and is housed at the Fundacion Federico Garcia Lorca, Madrid, at the request of Lorca’s niece.
Lizzie’s second novel, Vandalism, is about to be published by Merlin Publishers, and is set in her home city, Glasgow.