Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Though primarily a novelist, Miguel Delibes (deh-LEE-bays) published several books of travel impressions, including Por esos mundos (1961; round about the world), Europa, parada, y fonda (1963; Europe, stops, and inns), USA y yo (1966; U.S.A. and I), and La primavera de Praga (1968; springtime in Prague); shortnarratives, including the collections La partida (1954; the departure), Siestas con viento sur (1957; siestas with a southern breeze), and La mortaja (1970; the shroud); and books on hunting and fishing, including Aventuras, venturas, y desventuras de un cazador a rabo (1977; adventures, good and bad luck of a small game hunter) and Mis amigas las truchas (1977; my trout friends). He also published miscellaneous books of articles, commentary, and essays, as well as newspaper articles and comments and impressions written in diary form. Asked by the Spanish government to write a tourist guide of Old Castile, Delibes produced Viejas historias de Castilla la Vieja (1964; old tales of Old Castile), a work that for its narrative-descriptive passages of lyric force is one of the author’s most memorable and revealing books (though it was unacceptable as a travel guide); it is sometimes classified as a novella.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Miguel Delibes is without doubt one of Spain’s most significant novelists to emerge since the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939. His first novel, La sombra del ciprés es alargada, published by the Barcelona publisher Destino in 1948, won the prestigious Eugenio Nadal Prize in 1947. Though probably his worst novel, it was decisive in influencing him to continue his efforts at writing fiction, efforts that he realized while working simultaneously for many years as a professor in the School of Commerce in Valladolid and on the editorial staff of the newspaper El norte de Castilla, serving as its director from 1958 to 1963.

As a novelist, Delibes’s work was marked by a steady growth and progression in style and content, causing the critics to observe that each new Delibean book was better than the last. In general, Delibes progressively moved away from a traditional and detailed realism reminiscent of the nineteenth century to a more poetic and symbolic realism, experimentation in structure and techniques, and a more economical, direct, and unaffected style. However, his direction toward simplicity was broken somewhat in some later works, such as Five Hours with Mario and The Hedge, in which his more complex and convoluted syntax serves the purpose of making style reflect content, especially, according to Janet Díaz, the “troubled psychological atmosphere and torment” of the protagonist. Delibes’s novels have been widely translated into the leading European languages. Numerous doctoral theses on his work have been completed in American and European universities.

A strong and independent voice in contemporary Spanish fiction, Delibes adhered to no group or movement inside or outside Spain, though he absorbed from them whatever he saw as beneficial to his own character and temperament as a man and as a writer. Though neither a regionalist nor a novelist of customs (costumbrista) in the traditional sense, he continued to live in Valladolid until his death in 2010 and continued to portray what he knew best: the rural people and landscape of Old Castile. In particular, his distinctive use of rural Castilian speech won him high praise; notable also was his creation of rural Castilian atmospheres and characters.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Agawu-Kakraba, Yaw B. Demythification in the Fiction of Miguel Delibes. New York: Peter Lang, 1996. Agawu-Kakraba examines several of Delibes’s novels, including Five Hours with Mario, The Stuff of Heroes, The Path, The Hedge, and Smoke on the Ground, to demonstrate how Delibes’s fiction criticized the myths of heroism, stoicism, progress, and other elements of Francisco Franco’s totalitarian ideology.

Boucher, Teresa Claire. Existential Authenticity in Three Novels of Spanish Author Miguel Delibes. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 2004. Boucher seeks to determine if Delibes has been correctly characterized as a “novelist of authenticity.” She analyzes his work in terms of existential philosophy and examines the “existential inauthority” in his novels Five Hours with Mario, Señora de rojo sobre fondo gris, and Cartas de amor con un sexagenario voluptuoso.

Díaz, Janet W. Miguel Delibes. New York: Twayne, 1971. One of the few English-language books about Delibes aimed at the student or general reader. Provides a biography of Delibes and analyses of his works. Includes chronology and bibliography.

Dinverno, Melissa. “Dictating Fictions: Power, Resistance and the Construction of Identity in Cinco horas con Mario.” Bulletin of Spanish Studies 81, no. 1 (January, 2004): 49-76. A study of Five Hours with Mario, describing how Delibes’s novel charts the fundamental economic, cultural, social, and political changes that were occurring in Spain when the novel was published in 1966.

Meyers, Glenn G. Miguel Delibes: An Annotated Critical Bibliography. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1999. Meyers has compiled an extensive annotated bibliography listing literary criticism of Delibes’s work. The book also includes a biography tracing Delibes’s origins and development as a writer and an analysis of trends in Delibes’s criticism.

Schwartz, Ronald. “Delibes and Parabola del naufrago (1969).” In Spain’s New Wave Novelists: 1950-1954: Studies in Spanish Realism. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1976. Delibes’s novel The Hedge is one of the books examined in this study of Spanish realism. The book also includes a chapter defining the characteristics of the “Spanish new wave novel” and another chapter placing these novels in their broader literary and historical context.