Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Orphanhood as Genesis in Miguel Delibes's La sombra del ciprés es alargada

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2015), 92, (1), 39–52.

Abstract

Miguel Delibes's La sombra del ciprés es alargada (1948) has been read as a Catholic novel (Hart 1990), a demythifying novel (Agawu-Kakraba 1996) and an existentialist novel (Buckley 2012). These interpretations share a common focus on the young protagonist's obsession with death and on the malign influence of the doctrine of non-involvement (desasimiento), as propounded by the protagonist's teacher. However, this article contends that the genesis of the youth's angst is unresolved mourning related to orphanhood. The novel conveys this cryptically by various means: the doubling of the protagonist's identity thanks to his intense friendship with a fellow pupil, biophilic resonances and the self-subversive quality of the first-person narrative technique. Like Carmen Laforet's Nada (1944), Delibes's debut novel may thus be termed a work of inter-generational trauma.

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Squires, Jeremy