El Camino by Miguel Delibes

One of the greatest disappointments for English readers is the almost total lack of English translations of most of the Spanish classics. Apart from the still-living Javier Marías, the world imagined that Spanish literature died when García Lorca was murdered during the Spanish Civil War. It is true that authors during the Franco regime had to be circumspect about their topics, given the intrusiveness of state censorship, but such conditions can generate a brand of writing that betrays all kinds of subtleties missing from normal liberally-written literature.

el_caminoOne of the greatest of post-civil war literary giants, Miguel Delibes was a newspaper editor and prolific writer, and amongst his many offerings is a rural trilogy, including El Camino (The Way). The other two volumes are Los santos inocentes (The holy innocents) and Las Ratas (The rats). All three novels are set in the years of deprivation of the 1940s and 1950s, when the Spanish nation toiled to drag itself up from the disaster of civil war. In El Camino, we follow the early years of childhood of Daniel, el Mochuelo who lives in a northern Spanish town near the coast. Daniel is torn between the driving ambition of his father (a humble cheesemaker), who has saved all his life to send his son to a private school in the city, and Daniel’s own wish to stay in the village, with his friends, with all the things that he is familiar with. As an 11 year old, happy with the prospect of becoming a cheesemaker like his father, he fails to understand why his father has made them all suffer, depriving the family of basic comforts in life, just to send Daniel to the city to be educated like a gentleman.

Through Daniel, Delibes cleverly gets us to reassess our own ambitions and tendencies in life, and see them for they really are.

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About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on March 3, 2016, in Book reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Roger Davies

    I fondly remember studying El Camino many moons ago. I’ve not read the translation, but Delibes’ writing was a joy to read. I must look out my copy to revisit the novel. Thanks for the reminder.
    ps. I do hope your health problems are behind you now.

    • Thanks Roger. Progress is very slow, but I continue to ‘travel in hope’. As I mentioned, you won’t find a translation of any of Delibes’ works, but then you don’t need one. It’s well worth re-reading…….it had me captivated (once again).

  2. Sounds a very interesting read. Perhaps you could translate it whilst you wait for your back to heal?

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