This collection of public speeches and essays speaks to an aspect of Spanish art (indeed, all art) which is both the motivation for and expression of a primal oneness with one’s art—best witnessed in music and/or dance, poetry, and bullfighting. GL saw the duende, that force or supreme expression, as a dying, regional characteristic of Spanish art, particularly Andalusian art. Duende operates in opposition to the artist’s angel (for sake of summary, style) and the artist’s muse (his or her intelligence). GL treats the duende with a religious respect, citing numerous historical composers, dancers, singers, and eventually poets and bullfighters who embodied the force before succumbing to it, as one must. In addition to the essays and speeches, numerous poems are provided which a better reader will judge as possessing or not possessing that power (with poetry, I always feel inadequate to pass judgment). Contemporary readers will likely wonder the difference between artists possessed by duende and artists who are ‘in the moment.’ Those readers would be best advised to read this brief collection—it’s quite possibly a distinction without a difference.
On the matter of Bullfighting: GL discusses the bullfighting event in terms of artistry with the audience as participants—similar, in respect, to the sacrifice of bull’s in a temple (or the Temple, if you prefer)—an interesting take, although other vegetarians will likely still squirm.