El hereje / The Heretic
Novel , 1998
An ode to tolerance and the liberty of conscience, The Heretic is an unforgettable story of a man and the passions that move him to action.
In this winner of the Premio Nacional de Narrativa, Spain’s most prestigious literary prize, Miguel Delibes takes us into the heart of sixteenth-century Spain. At the very moment Martin Luther nails his ninety-five theses to a church door and launches the movement that will divide the Roman Catholic Church, a child is born, his fate marked by the political and religious upheaval taking root in Europe. His mother having perished in childbirth, his father alienated and disconnected, Cipriano Salcedo’s only source of affection is his wet nurse and foster mother, Minerva. He grows up to become a prosperous merchant and joins the Reformation movement, which is secretly advancing on the Iberian Peninsula, the historical bastion of the Catholic church. But before long, the Spanish Inquisition will drive the Reformers to put their lives at stake.
Through the story of Cipriano Salcedo, Delibes paints a masterful portrait of the time of Spain’s Charles V and recreates with uncanny accuracy and unparalleled artistry the social and intellectual atmosphere of Europe at one of history’s most pivotal moments..
"The novel is astonishing for its quirky vitality. This is less a novel of ideas than an extraordinarily imaginative evocation of provincial life in a past age." The Economist
"(T)he awkwardness makes way for an engaging account of the lives, loves and fate of the wealthy Salcedo family (.....) The delight here is in the detail of Spanish life, particularly of Valladolid." Alison McCulloch, The New York Times Book Review
"Considering the quasi-cinemagical imagery that holds us spellbound page after page, it is easy to overlook the fact that Delibes not only does not fear the monumental implication of his subject but delights in making it accessible at a personal level. (...) The most gratifying aspect of the story, however, for this reviewer, is the author's rendering of past customs and events from our vantage point. While Delibes scrupulously avoids reverse anachronism, he delicately reinterprets the past without stripping it of its character and impact. (...) Even by the Olympian standards of Delibes's earlier novels, El hereje is a milestone." David Ross Gerling, World Literature Today