Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

The Diary of a Failed Spanish Capitalist: Individualism and the Ambivalent Critique of Pablo Sánchez's El alquiler del mundo (2010)

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2013), 90, (6), 679–696.

Abstract

Pablo Sánchez's recent novel, El alquiler del mundo (which won the first-ever Francisco Casavella Prize in 2010), is not a story of corporate triumph but rather a cautionary tale foregrounding the dangers of capitalist excess. Written from a largely first-person point of view, the novel affords us a clear picture - at some times sad, at others humorous - of the sequence of events leading to the author's ultimate realization that ‘Barcelona, sin duda, ha sido un fracaso’ (311). What makes the novel so intriguing is its rich caricature of the failure of a middle-class social climber and its substantial mobilization of key cultural intertexts to achieve its effect - in particular, references to author-poet César Vallejo. Privileging Vallejo - and relying on the capitalist critiques of David Harvey and Henri Lefebvre - in an analysis of Sánchez's novel reveals that El alquiler del mundo advances a surprisingly ambivalent perspective on the current capitalist system, an ambiguity that is not convincingly vitiated by its choice of a first-person narrative structure.

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Vallejo, César, 2008. Poesías completas (Madrid: Visor). Poesías completas Google Scholar

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Aguirre: The Wrath of God. 1977, dir. Werner Herzog (New Yorker Films) [Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes. 1972]. Google Scholar

Biutiful. 2010, dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu (Videocine). Google Scholar

Citizen Kane, 1941, dir. Orson Welles (RKO). Google Scholar

The Godfather, 1972, dir. Francis Ford Coppola (Paramount). Google Scholar

Brittan, Samuel, 1995. Capitalism with a Human Face (Cheltenhan, UK and Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar). Capitalism with a Human Face Google Scholar

Carroto, Paula, 2010. ‘Una novela contra la codicia del capitalismo’. [Online.] Véase: http://www.publico.es/culturas/343952/una-novela-contra-la-codicia-del-capitalismo Google Scholar

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EFE, 2010. ‘Pablo Sánchez ariza contra el capitalismo salvaje en "El alquiler del mundo"’. [Online.] http://www.adn.es Google Scholar

Eshleman, Clayton, 1980. ‘Introduction’, in César Vallejo: The Complete Posthumous Poetry, trans. C. Eshleman and J. Rubia Barcia (Berkeley: University of California Press), pp. xix-xxxvii. César Vallejo: The Complete Posthumous Poetry xix xxxvii Google Scholar

Eshleman, Clayton, (ed. and trans.), 1992 [1922]. Afterword: ‘Vallejo's Succulent Snack of Unity’, in Trilce by César Vallejo (New York: Marisilio), pp. 235-58. Trilce 235 58 Google Scholar

Feijóo y Montenegro, Benito Jerónimo, 1745. ‘Causas del atraso que se padece en España en orden a las ciencias naturales’, in Cartas eruditas, Vol. 2, Carta XVI. ‘Causas del atraso que se padece en España en orden a las ciencias naturales’ Cartas eruditas 2 Google Scholar

Ferrari, Américo, 1992 [1922]. ‘Introduction’, in ‘Trilce’, trans. C. Eshleman (New York: Marisilio), pp. ix-xxviii. ‘Trilce’ ix xxviii Google Scholar

Fineman, Steven, 2003. Understanding Emotion at Work (London: Sage). Understanding Emotion at Work Google Scholar

Franco, Jean, 1976. César Vallejo: The Dialectics of Poetry and Silence (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press). César Vallejo: The Dialectics of Poetry and Silence Google Scholar

Fraser, Benjamin, 2008. ‘Toward a Philosophy of the Urban: Lefebvre's Uncomfortable Application of Bergsonism’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 26.2: 338-58. ‘Toward a Philosophy of the Urban: Lefebvre's Uncomfortable Application of Bergsonism’ Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 26 338 58 Google Scholar

Fraser, Benjamin, 2010. ‘Ildefons Cerdà's Scalpel: A Lefebvrian Perspective on Nineteenth-Century Urban Planning’, Catalan Review, 25 (2011): 181-200. ‘Ildefons Cerdà's Scalpel: A Lefebvrian Perspective on Nineteenth-Century Urban Planning’ Catalan Review 25 181 200 Google Scholar

Fraser, Benjamin, 2011a. Henri Lefebvre and the Spanish Urban Experience: Reading the Mobile City (Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press). Henri Lefebvre and the Spanish Urban Experience: Reading the Mobile City Google Scholar

Fraser, Benjamin, 2011b. ‘Re-scaling Emotional Approaches to Music: Basque Band Lisabö and the Soundscapes of Urban Alienation’, Emotion, Space and Society, 4.1: 8-16. ‘Re-scaling Emotional Approaches to Music: Basque Band Lisabö and the Soundscapes of Urban Alienation’ Emotion, Space and Society 4 8 16 Google Scholar

Fraser, Benjamin, 2013. ‘Alejandro González Iñárritu's Biutiful Barcelona: Manuel Delgado against the "modelo Barcelona"’, Studies in Hispanic Cinemas 9.1 (2012): 19-34. ‘Alejandro González Iñárritu's Biutiful Barcelona: Manuel Delgado against the "modelo Barcelona"’ Studies in Hispanic Cinemas 9 19 34 Google Scholar

Goytisolo, Juan, 2005. El furgón de cola, repr. in Los ensayos (Barcelona: Península), pp. 9-227. Google Scholar

Gregg, Melissa, and Gregory J. Seigworth (eds), 2010. The Affect Theory Reader (Durham, NC: Duke University Press). The Affect Theory Reader Google Scholar

Harvey, David, 1989. The Urban Experience (Baltimore, MD, and London: Johns Hopkins University Press). The Urban Experience Google Scholar

Harvey, David, 1996. Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference (Oxford: Blackwell). Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference Google Scholar

Harvey, David, 2000. Spaces of Hope (Berkeley: University of California Press). Spaces of Hope Google Scholar

Harvey, David, 2001. Spaces of Capital: Towards a Critical Geography (New York: Routledge). Spaces of Capital: Towards a Critical Geography Google Scholar

Harvey, David, 2005. A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press). A Brief History of Neoliberalism Google Scholar

Harvey, David, 2009. Cosmopolitanism and the Geographies of Freedom (New York: Columbia University Press). Cosmopolitanism and the Geographies of Freedom Google Scholar

Higgins, James, 1970. ‘Introduction’, in César Vallejo: An Anthology of His Poetry. (Oxford and New York: Pergamon), pp. 1-84. César Vallejo: An Anthology of His Poetry 1 84 Google Scholar

Lefebvre, Henri, 1973. The Survival of Capitalism (London: Allison & Busby). The Survival of Capitalism Google Scholar

Lefebvre, Henri 1996. The Right to the City, repr. in Writings on Cities, ed. and trans. E. Kofman and E. Lebas (Oxford: Blackwell). Google Scholar

Lefebvre, Henri 2006. Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life, trans. S. Elden and G. Moore, Introduction, S. Elden (London and New York: Continuum). Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life Google Scholar

Monterroso, Augusto, 1982. mr. taylor & co. (La Habana: Casa de las Américas). mr. taylor & co. Google Scholar

Radio Nacional de España, 2010. ‘El ojo crítico-Pablo Sánchez, autor de la novela El alquiler del mundo’, 18 October. Véase http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/audios/el-ojo-critico/el-ojo-criticopablo-sanchez-autor-de-la-novela-el-alquiler-del-mundo-28-10-10/914662 Google Scholar

Romero, Covadonga (ed.), 1998. El tungsteno (1931) de César Vallejo. Véase Vallejo 1998. Google Scholar

Sánchez, Pablo, 2010. El alquiler del mundo (Barcelona: Áncora y Delfín). El alquiler del mundo Google Scholar

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky, 2002. Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity (Durham, NC: Duke University Press). Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity Google Scholar

Silva-Santistenban, Ricardo, 2008. ‘César Vallejo y su creación poética’, in César Vallejo: Poesías completas (Madrid: Visor), pp. 7-82. César Vallejo: Poesías completas 7 82 Google Scholar

Vallejo, César, 1998 [1931]. El tungsteno, ed. Covadonga. Romero (Pamplona: Eunate), pp. 9-129. El tungsteno 9 129 Google Scholar

Vallejo, César, 2008. Poesías completas (Madrid: Visor). Poesías completas Google Scholar

Filmography Google Scholar

Aguirre: The Wrath of God. 1977, dir. Werner Herzog (New Yorker Films) [Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes. 1972]. Google Scholar

Biutiful. 2010, dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu (Videocine). Google Scholar

Citizen Kane, 1941, dir. Orson Welles (RKO). Google Scholar

The Godfather, 1972, dir. Francis Ford Coppola (Paramount). Google Scholar

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Fraser, Benjamin