Centenario Delibes: the shadow of the writer continues to be lengthened

Dozens. Hundreds. Probably thousands, although they are difficult to compute. Virtual and face-to-face. Academic and popular, humble and great. In museums, cinemas and theaters, universities, schools, book fairs, libraries, cultural centers, in the countryside … Events that pay tribute to Miguel Delibes on the occasion of his centennial, inside and outside of Spain, they are countless. Despite the pandemic and the lockdowns. And with the prospect of being able to extend until the end of 2021 the status of the centenary as an Event of Exceptional Public Interest (AEIP).

Today, October 17, marks the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Valladolid writer. And the event takes place a few days after the inauguration of what is surely the most relevant event of the entire centenary: the exhibition ‘Delibes’, from the National Library of Spain. An exhibition in which the Junta de Castilla y León, the Provincial Council and the City Council of Valladolid have joined forces with the Government of Spain, through Acción Cultural Española and the National Library, under the supervision of the Miguel Delibes Foundation. An event that will remain in Madrid until November 15 to later move to Valladolid, where it will open on December 17.

Already approved in the Foundation’s master plan for the centenary, but still undated, there are also other exhibitions, such as the exhibition on ‘Defense and dignity of the Rural Environment’, or the training exhibition ‘The Wounded Earth’, focused on the relevant role de Delibes in denouncing the degradation of the environment. In July, the exhibition, organized by Joaquín Díaz, ‘Rural Utopia. Words and things in the work of Delibes’, which is added to ‘The faces of Delibes’, in which the Valladolid artist Laura Serrano has put a face to some of the great Delibian characters using local residents as models. The characters and the atmosphere of ‘Las ratas’ are the protagonists of the edition of woodcuts by the artist José Noriega that are exhibited, since last day 14, at the Casa Revilla in Valladolid, and which are part of a new institutional edition of the novel.

The Letter Box

Of special relevance will also be, next day 22, the incorporation of Delibes to the Caja de las Letras of the Cervantes Institute, where writers, artists, musicians, scientists, filmmakers and actors have been leaving, since 2007, an intimate legacy guarded in the former vault of the Central Bank, where today the institute’s headquarters are located. 1,800 safe deposit boxes that, as of this date, will include among them a special treasure: the original manuscript of Delibes’ entrance speech at the Royal Spanish Academy.

The Cervantes Institute will keep in a vault the original manuscript of the author’s entrance speech at the Royal Academy
Literary treasure

Numerous books and publications accompany the centenary this year, such as a monograph on Delibes from the perspective of Law, the publication of the correspondence between Delibes and Umbral or the first edition in comic format of ‘The Heretic’. The Diputación de Valladolid donated 10,000 copies of the story ‘La grajilla’ to the Foundation last September, the title with which it opened its Osa Mayor collection in 1993, and has also reissued its Delibes routes through the province, six itineraries proposed by Jorge Urdiales through 33 Valladolid towns related to his hunting books. These will be joined in the coming months by a large number of studies and publications, monographs, reissues and commemorative editions of the work of the Valladolid writer, as well as the launch of new reading formats (audiobooks, electronic books …) of his works. A reading passion that has had a relevant reflection in the recently closed Valladolid Book Fair, dedicated to Delibes, and that will last for months with the inclusion of different works of his in the reading clubs of Valladolid, in the face of a great meeting of readers that will take place in the fall of 2021.

Two greats on the Spanish scene closely related to Delibes will also have an important presence in the coming months: José Sacristán, with ‘Señora de rojo sobre fondo gris’, and Lola Herrera, with ‘Cinco horas con Mario’. The first premiered yesterday at the Calderón Theater in Valladolid. The second is scheduled to arrive at this same coliseum in May 2021.

Colleges and universities

In the centennial program, in accordance with the essential spirit of the Foundation, everything related to the school and academic world takes on special relevance. For the 2020-2021 academic year, a long series of activities is planned for schools that includes teacher training programs, didactic guides, stimulation activities, prizes for the best didactic experiences or projects such as ‘Write a letter to Delibes’, which will be launched taking advantage of the issuance of a commemorative postal stamp scheduled for 2021.

Academic activities also include a summer course and a short story contest by the University of Valladolid, as well as a monographic congress on Delibes in Castilla y León, which will be held around next summer, aimed at international speakers and aimed at promoting the Castilian and Leonese region as a destination for learning the Spanish language.

A special section of this new edition of Seminci will report on Delibes’ mutual admiration for cinema and cinema for Delibes, with the cycle ‘The cinema that Delibes loved’. And designed by Jesús Marchamalo, a new exhibition, ‘Delibes y el cine’, will also be launched, which will have as its first headquarters the El Águila cultural center in Madrid. An important animation project on Delibes and some of its most emblematic works is also underway, using the latest digital animation techniques.

For television, in addition to the recovery of the documentary ‘La X de Max’, shot around his family, which premiered last year at Seminci, an interview program is underway that gathers the testimonies of different cultural personalities related to with the life or work of Delibes. In the chapter on photography, the exhibition ‘Delibes en el objective’, by the Vallisoletana Photographic Association, is inaugurated today at the Canal de Castilla civic center in Valladolid.

At the Ramos Carrión theater in Zamora, the play ‘I am like a tree that grows where it is planted’ continues on the bill since October 9, a show created by Inés Boza that fuses theater and contemporary dance. And on the 24th, also in the capital of Zamora, but this time at the Principal Theater, the literary-visual-musical show ‘Vieja Castilla Vieja’ will be premiered, narrated by Emilio Gutiérrez Caba and with the voice of the baritone Luis Santana, accompanied by the pianist Víctor Carbajo, on a musical selection by Joaquín Díaz; the same one that will be presented at the Sala Delibes del Calderón, in Valladolid, on November 29 and 30. This room will also host, on different dates, new versions of the Valkiria Teatro show on the biography of Delibes.

The erection of a statue dedicated to the man of letters is planned in the Acera de Recoletos, near the house where he was born.

The pianist and national music award winner Diego Fernández Magdaleno already has on the bill a great recital in homage to Delibes, with 35 short pieces related to aspects of the life and work of the writer. At the same time, the operatic version of ‘Cinco horas con Mario’, in the version of the Madrid composer Jorge Grundman, continues. The overture of this opera, ‘La esquela’, is pending to be included in the 2021 program of the Orquesta de Castilla y León.

A few days ago, the ONCE coupon that will pay tribute to the Valladolid writer was officially presented, and which will go on sale next Wednesday. The centenary program, which includes an infinity of other activities, such as the erection of a statue dedicated to Delibes on the Acera de Recoletos, near the house where he was born, will be complemented with other specific programs from different entities and institutions, such as the University of Valladolid, the Royal Spanish Academy, the Cervantes Institute, the Destino publishing house or El Norte de Castilla itself.

Delibes international

Among the many tribute events programmed around the world, the proposal of the Ministry of Culture stands out to take to the next Frankfurt Book Fair, which will have Spain as a guest country, a virtual version of the exhibition of the National Library, which will accompany to an international meeting of translators of Delibes’s work, as well as to a new exhibition that will have as its core argument ‘The Heretic and the freedom of thought and expression’.

In collaboration with the ANLE (North American Academy of the Spanish Language), in which more than 150 American and Canadian Hispanists are integrated, a program has also been developed that includes the publication of a monograph on Delibes by 20 professors and professors of the United States, for the spring of 2021. These days, a three-day virtual tribute to Delibes is also being held at the Cultural Center of Spain in Santo Domingo.

In order to accommodate the large number of theses, monographs, articles and other publications on the writer that are produced each year in different countries, the centenary program also includes the creation of a Miguel Delibes International Documentation Center, which will allow communication and networking of scholars, Hispanics and academics from all over the world, making the Miguel Delibes Foundation the world reference center for research on the figure of the author.


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