The Wars of Our Ancestors

Miguel Delibes, Author, Agnes Moncy, Translator University of Georgia Press $40 (232p) ISBN 978-0-8203-1418-1
This accomplished novel by a distinguished Spanish writer purports to be the transcript of a week's conversations between psychiatrist Burgueno Lopez and Pacifico Perez, a peasant serving a prison sentence for murder. Guided by the doctor's gentle inquiries, Pacifico relates the unfortunate developments that led to his incarceration. Pacifico recalls his father's, grandfather's and great-grandfather's constant exhortations to be a man, and remembers their relish in describing their successful participation in military campaigns. Yet the aptly named Pacifico is more like his brooding, thoughtful grandmother. Rejected by the army, he becomes a beekeeper and is seduced by a girl from a nearby village. When her brother finds out about their affair and appears to challenge them, Pacifico kills him. Although he is relieved to be imprisoned, freed of responsibility, he becomes involved in a botched escape plan in which a guard is killed. Will he be executed for this new crime? Delibes ( Five Hours with Mario ) explores the social dynamics of the Perez family and, by extrapolation, modern society, producing in Pacifico a natural storyteller through whom the tragicomic antics of the villagers quicken and pulse. A heightened sensitivity to nature informs both his breathtaking descriptions and his resolutely unromantic view of peasant life. (July)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
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