Spanish veteran rural novelist Delibes dead at 89

Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:32am EST
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By Blanca Rodriguez,

MADRID (Reuters Life!) - Miguel Delibes, who dominated Spanish writing for more than 50 years with his mastery of the language, sensitive but realistic portrayal of downtrodden farm workers and love of nature, died on Friday.

He was 89.

Politicians set aside fierce squabbling over Spain's crisis to join in praising Delibes, whose career spanned the country's painful recovery from a devastating civil war and its transition from a grim dictatorship to a modern European democracy.

"One of the great writers of the Castillian language in the 20th century has left us," said Carmen Caffarel, director of the Cervantes Institute, which teaches the Spanish language and culture around the world.

Delibes' frank reporting of rural life brought him into conflict in his early years with the censors of Francisco Franco's regime, and in his own words taught him that "I had to say as much as possible with as few words as possible."

Delibes also criticized the despoliation of the countryside often wrought by hectic urbanization of Spain and construction booms in recent decades.

The hallmark of his writing was the purity of the language as spoken in his native Castille, the region which gave birth to Castillian, the dominant language in Spain which is spoken by some 450 million people worldwide.

He is best known for "El Camino" (The Road), a coming of age novel which has been required reading for generations of Spanish schoolchildren, and "Los Santos Inocentes" (The Holy Innocents), a brutal portrayal of rural poverty imbued with a deep love of flora and fauna.   Continued...