Delibes, Miguel (Vol. 18)
Delibes, Miguel 1920–
Delibes is a Spanish novelist whose work incorporates many of the influences in his life. My Adored Son Sisí reflects his close relationship with his own father. However, his constant fear as a child that his elderly father would die imbues much of his work with the theme of death. His Castilian birthplace, Valladolid, forms the background for many of his novels. Remaining in that city, somewhat removed from the Spanish literary circles, Delibes is an independent writer, reflecting the concerns of the twentieth century but not the trends and fads of contemporary Spanish literature. (See also CLC, Vol. 8, and Contemporary Authors, Vols. 45-48.)
Ernest A. Johnson, Jr.
El camino, published in 1950, is the third novel of Delibes and shows the author's ever renewed interest in perspectives on Man's struggle to understand his own nature in relation to the lives and events around himself. In his first novel, La sombra del cipres es alargada, published in 1948, the theme is pessimistic…. As though to counteract this unhappy determinism, Delibes' second novel, Aun es de dia, published in 1949, presents a gentle character of unbounded generosity and optimism, who has no material reason for being so, since his body is twisted, his surroundings depressing, and even the women he married evil. Thus the first two novels show the author's early, somewhat awkward efforts to portray first the destructive power of environment, and then the victory of Man's spirit over environment. Significantly, both books indicate Delibes' interest in the early formative years of his heroes.
El camino benefits greatly by what the author learned in these previous literary explorations. The protagonist Daniel, son of the town's cheesemaker, is a normal, active boy of eleven, whose large, inquisitive eyes earn him the nickname of Mochuelo, "owl." His father, Salvador, has determined that his son will have a better life than he and is sending him off to the city to school. The novel starts and ends in those fatal hours that mark the end of the old life and the beginning of the new. It asks the...
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A salient characteristic of Miguel Delibes' novels is the tone of religious faith and moral values they reflect. While some of his works clearly depict moral corruption and vice, the author invariably presents basic religious ethics as the desirable way of life. Such is the case, for example in Mi idolatrado hijo Sisí. In spite of the apparent tone of pessimism in the novel, the reader is left with the distinct impression that many of the unfortunate incidents and the accompanying unhappiness could have been avoided if the characters had conformed to the religious teaching of their social milieu.
This religious ideology, a basic characteristic of each of Delibes' works, is perhaps nowhere more clearly stated than in Las ratas, the short novel of Nini and his life in a small Castilian village. The author early intimates the religious nature of the character portrayal of his child protagonist, el Nini, by the use of a verse from the Bible as a sort of preface…. With [a] quotation from the eleventh chapter of Mark the novelist introduces to the reader one of his most poignant child creations. (p. 492)
In his identification of el Nini with all forms of nature, Delibes is revealing something of a mystic concept of life, such as one finds among the early mystic poets.
Since Nini identified so closely with nature, he was repulsed by the destruction of life in any form. Although el abuelo...
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Janet W. DíAz
JANET W. DÍAZ
La Sombra del ciprés es alargada (Long Is the Cypress' Shadow) and Aún es de día (Still It Is Day) may be treated together not only because of their proximity in time (the first was published in 1948 and the second in 1949), but also because of many stylistic similarities. Rhetorically, both are ponderous and at times ornate, with long sentences, much introspection, and lengthy paragraphs with limited dialogue in comparison with most later works…. They are opposites in terms of the dominant psychology of the respective protagonists: Pedro, in the former, is characterized by enduring pessimism, and Sebastián, in the latter, often exemplifies an optimism quite out of keeping with his circumstances…. [Both] novels share a common religious solution to, or sublimation of, problems raised therein, and are largely philosophical and moralistic, even if one agrees that the philosophies are in some respects opposed. This basic polarity is reflected by the imagery of the titles, one emphasizing darkness and the other, light. (p. 38)
Delibes' first novel [Long Is the Cypress' Shadow,] like many novelists' first efforts, has a considerable autobiographic content, although it is definitely not an autobiography. The protagonist resembles his creator in the preoccupation with death, fear of losing those he loves, and in his pessimism. However, while Delibes' pessimism is not the result...
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Roberta A. Quance
[Parábola del náufrago (Parable of the Drowning Man)] is at once a parable about modern man's plight in an oppressive, dehumanizing society and a parable about the language which that society manipulates, in every sense of the term. Specifically, Parábola describes the world of a huge bureaucratic Spanish firm, at whose head looms the inflated figure of a despot. At the same time, it broaches a larger sphere, opening onto a vista of the modern totalitarian State, which seeks typically to determine not only what its citizens do but also what they say and, ultimately, what they think…. At the heart of Parábola lies the problem of incommunication: it constitutes an insurmountable barrier for Jacinto, the protagonist, who is increasingly confounded by the language of his contemporaries, and, to the extent that this insignificant little man "viene a ser un hombre del montón" … [comes close to being a face in the crowd], it is symbolic of the situation of all men, and thus becomes a problem of formidable scope for the reader as well. Moreover, the language which frames Jacinto's reality embraces ours too: whenever language is the subject under scrutiny, the speculations made and the alterations ventured inevitably implicate our own tongue in the consequences. Language is everybody's property and everybody's concern. To talk about it is to enter the domain of the universal, where anyone might justly claim a voice in the...
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Phyllis Zatlin Boring
In Delibes' first novel, La sombra del ciprés es alargada …, the author introduces several of the same aspects of childhood which he later developed in El camino: close friendship between boys, the boy's initial dislike of a younger girl, the private world of the boys of which the adults are unaware, the child's growing awareness of sex, the child's insight into the weaknesses of the adults, the death of a friend. Delibes' handling of these themes in La sombra … is heavyhanded and lacks the humor and greater realism of the later novels…. Moreover, the characterization of Pedro in La sombra … is disturbing because of his obsession with death. He knows that Alfredo will die long before the other boy falls ill; he then grows into adulthood with the thought of this death constantly in mind. This response to death is not typical of the young. (pp. 473-74)
La sombra is an unsuccessful portrayal of the world of children in another respect. In the first section of the novel, Delibes is trying to convince us that a young boy is telling the story, recounting his own experiences in the first person. But he has the child express himself on a level far beyond his years. In El camino, on the contrary, Delibes has carefully captured the speech and thought of children.
El camino is dominantly presented to us from the child's perspective…. Structurally the novel is intended...
(The entire section is 782 words.)