Friday, March 12, 2010

A tribute to Miguel Delibes

Miguel Delibes

"When you feel death so close, you turn your eyes into yourself and you find nothing but banality, because we the living, when comparing with the dead, are unbearably banal." - M. Delibes

Miguel Delibes died a few hours ago in Valladolid, where he was born in 1920 (as he said once, "I am like a tree, who grows where it was planted"). In case you don't know him, Delibes is one of the greatest contemporary Spanish writers, and would have deserved the Nobel price more than, let's say, Camilo J. Cela (the last Spanish writer who got it). In my humble opinion, no one has captured the soul of Castile as Delibes did in many of his books (such as "The Rats", "the Old Tales of Old Castile" and many others). If anybody is wondering what actually is Castile, he could get a good hint reading some of Delibes' books.

His first and last books (excluding the compilations and short essays published during his latter years) are two great -yet atypical, considering all his other books- novels: "the Long Shadow of the Cypress" and "the Heretic", magnificent historical novel about freedom and tolerance set in Valladolid, when the city was the capital of the Spanish Empire... and the Inquisition. For many of us, "The Way" (about children growing up and discovering the bitterness of life) was one of the first books that we had to read at school. And of course, it's impossible to forget "the Holy Innocents", a tale about the struggle of the poor where everything (even their lives) belong to the rich. One of his most celebrated books is not even a novel, but rather the monologue of a lady in front of his husband's dead body: "Five hours with Mario".

A proud Castilian like me, a fellow countryman from Valladolid, but besides everything else, one of the greatest Spanish writers of all times. Rest in peace.

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