Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

He Diary of a Failed Spanish Capitalist: Individualism and the Ambivalent Critique of Pablo Sánchez's El Alquiler del Mundo (2010)

Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

He Diary of a Failed Spanish Capitalist: Individualism and the Ambivalent Critique of Pablo Sánchez's El Alquiler del Mundo (2010)

Article excerpt

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 firstperson 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.

Resumen

La reciente novela de Pablo Sánchez, El alquiler del mundo (galardonada con el primer premio 'Francisco Casavella' en 2010), no es una historia del triunfo empresarial sino un cuento ejemplar subrayando los peligrosos excesos capitalistas. Narrada desde una perspectiva en primera persona, la novela nos ofrece una idea bien definida - unas veces triste, y otras humorosa - de la secuencia de eventos que conducen a que se entere el protagonista de que 'Barcelona, sin duda, ha sido un fracaso' (311). Lo que hace que la novela nos intrigue tanto son su rica caricatura del fracaso de este trepador social de la clase media y también el hecho de que el libro se refiere a unos intertextos culturales clave para lograr tal efecto - en particular, referencias al poeta-autor César Vallejo. Destacando Vallejo - y subrayando la crítica capitalista de David Harvey y Henri Lefebvre - en un análisis de la novela de Sánchez revela que El alquiler del mundo avanza una perspectiva sorprendidamente ambivalente sobre el sistema capitalista actual - una ambigüedad que no es lo suficientemente viciada por la elección de una estructura narrativa centrada en la primera persona.

El universo no paga el alquiler

- Javier Bardem's character Uxbal from the film Biutiful (2010).

If the recent film Biutiful (2010) zooms in on the streets of Barcelona, capturing the exploitative effects of a 'model' of capitalist urbanism that has been more concerned with appearance than with substance (Degen 2004a; 2004b; Delgado Ruiz 2007; Fraser 2010; 2013), then the novel El alquiler del mundo (Sánchez 2010) zooms up into the city's corporate offices, delivering instead the slick image of the Catalan capital as a powerful hub for Spanish capital flows. Nevertheless, Pablo Sánchez's recent prize-winning novel (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. In fact, the novel might just as well have been subtitled: 'Diario de un capitalista fracasado', as in its pages we witness the progressive failure of aspiring capitalist César following a transfer from Madrid to head the Trántor company's Barcelona office under less than ideal conditions. Written from a largely first-person point of view, the novel affords us a clear picture - at some times sad, at other times humorous - of the sequence of events leading to his ultimate realization that 'Barcelona, sin duda, ha sido un fracaso' (Sánchez 2010: 311). The reader stands as a witness to César's persistent refusal to engage with those around him - and ultimately even with himself - in a more emotionally meaningful, human, way. We watch as he destroys his relationship with his wife Eugenia, as he denies the pain of having abandoned their adopted child, as he calculates every move in terms of the best (monetary) interest of the company, firing whomever stands in the way, and even as he (knowingly) allows himself to fall prey to a pyramid scheme, ultimately losing hundreds of thousands of euros in the process. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.