, Volume 100, Issue 2, pp 197–212 | Cite as

Obsolescence in Town and Country in Miguel Delibes’s La hoja roja

  • Jeremy Squires


Miguel Delibes’s La hoja roja has been understood as a novel which, having been inspired by a neo-realist aesthetic, draws attention to the plight of the elderly and queries western tenets of progress. The article builds upon existing analyses by examining the work’s portrayal of a double obsolescence: the one urban, the other rural. Eloy’s civic-minded principles have become outmoded. On the other hand, his maid is an immigrant from the Spanish countryside, keen to assimilate to the city while remaining close to her roots. Both are marginalized by a form of modernization which corrodes communal bonds in the city and is dismissive of rural culture in toto. The article considers key elements of the novel’s treatment of progress: altered attitudes towards work, the phenomenon of circularity and repetition, the narrativizing of personal histories and experiences, literacy and illiteracy. It further examines the pathologizing of modernity in the shape of the maid’s dysfunctional boyfriend Picaza, the critique of photography, as well as the author’s intimated antidote to the alienating effects of modernity via a dialogue of tales across the rural and urban divide.


Modernity Progress Alienation Marginalization Old age City Country Literacy Photography Repetition Dialogue 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University CollegeDublinIreland

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