Born Miguel Delibes Setién on October 17, 1920, into a bourgeois family in Valladolid, a provincial capital in Old Castile, Delibes was reared as a strict Catholic. Though his father was liberal in his views, his mother was very conservative; in his childhood and adolescence, her orientation seemed to dominate; in adult life, his father’s Catholic liberalism prevailed. By the time the Spanish Civil War began, the future novelist, though not yet seventeen years old, had graduated from high school. A year later, he joined the Nationalist navy and served on a cruiser patrolling the Cantabrian Coast.
After the war, Delibes, having been refused reenlistment in the navy because of nearsightedness, took specially provided accelerated courses in both law and business, obtaining degrees in both areas in 1941. In 1943, he took an intensive three-month course in journalism in Madrid. In 1945, through competitive examinations (oposiciones), he won the chair of mercantile law in the School of Commerce in Valladolid, succeeding his father. Later he changed his subject to the history of culture. In 1946, he married Angeles de Castro. In 1947, he wrote his first novel-manuscript, partly in an attempt to rid himself of his obsession with death—an obsession he had had since childhood. Submitted to the Nadal competition, the manuscript won its prestigious prize, and it appeared in 1948 as La sombra del ciprés es alargada.
During the next...
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