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  • Counter :
  • 375
  • Date :
  • 12/27/2003

Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo

 (1864-Dec. 31,1936)


Spanish author and philosopher, predecessor of Existentialist philosophy withSøren Kierkegaard, educator, whose essays had great influence in early 20th-century Spain. Unamuno was one of the foremost representatives of the movement Generation '98 (see also:Ángel Ganivet). Main themes in his works are contrasts between reason and Christian faith, religion and freedom of thinking, and the tragedy of death in man's life, in which reason offers no consolation. As a philosopher Unamuno did not create a systematic presentation of his thought. He objected strongly to academic philosophers and stressed that the deepest of all human desires is the hunger for personal immortality against all our rational knowledge of life. Unamuno wrote his works in Spanish, although his mother tongue was Basque.
"The man of flesh and blood; the one who is born, suffers and dies - above all, who dies; the man who eats and drinks and plays and sleeps and thinks and wills; the man who is seen and is heard; the brother, the real brother." (fromThe Tragic Sense of Life, 1913)
Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo was born in Bilbao as the third of six children of Félix Unamuno, a proprietor of a bakery shop, and Salomé de Jugo, who was also his niece. When his father died Unamuno was brought up by an uncle. In his childhood he witnessed during the siege of Bilbao the violence between traditionalist and progressive forces. This experience left deep traces in his political thinking. Unamuno studied in his native city at the Colegio de San Nicolás and the Instituto Vizacaíno. In 1880 he entered the University of Madrid, where he studied philosophy and letters, receiving his Ph.D. four years later. Unamuno's dissertation dealt with the origin and prehistory of his Basque ancestors.
Unamuno's early years were deeply religious but in Madrid he started to visit the Ateneo, sometimes called the blasphemy center of the city. In its library he read works of liberal writers. After completing his doctorate Unamuno worked as a private tutor in Bilbao, where he also founded with his friends the socialist journalLa Lucha de Clases. From Bilbao he moved to Salamanca, to assume the chair of Greek at the University. In 1891 he married Concepción Lizárraga Ecénnarro; they had ten children. In 1896-97 he went through a religious crisis, which shattered his belief in finding a rational explanation of God and meaning in life. From universal philosophical constructions and outer reality he turned his attention to the individual person, inner spiritual struggles in the face of questions of death and immortality. Unamuno once stated: "Wisdom is to science what death is to life or, if you will, wisdom is to death what science is to life." Seeing that reason leads to despair, Unamuno concluded that one must abandon all pretence of rationalism and embrace faith.
In 1901 Unamuno became rector of the university; he held the post intermittently until his death. He was relieved of his duties because of political reasons for the first time in 1914. In 1924 he was exiled to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands for opposing the military dictatorship of General Primo de Rivera. After a few months, he escaped toParis, where his friends helped him create attention internationally to his exile. He then settled in Hendaye, the French Basque town nearest to the Spanish frontier, where he spent five years. General Rivera died in 1930 and Unamuno returned to theUniversity of Salamanca, and was reelected rector in 1931. He worked as the professor of the history of the Spanish language, but in 1936 he was removed once again - this time denouncing Francisco Franco's Falangists. Unamuno was placed under house arrest. He died inSalamanca onDecember 31, 1936, a few months after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.
Unamuno mastered 14 languages. In order to read Kierkegaard in the original language he learned Danish. Among his major works are DEL SENTIMIENTO TRÁGICO DE LA VIDA EN LOS HOMBRES Y EN LOS PUEBLOS (1913), an example of his longing to find against reason some assurance of immortality, ABEL SÁNCHEZ: UNA HISTORIA DE PASIÓN (1917), a modern exploration of the Cain-and-Abel theme, EL CHRISTO DE VELÁZQUEZ (1920), meditations on Velazquez' paintingCrucifiction. Unamuno's highly concentrated poems, written between 1928 and 1936, were published in CANCIENERO in 1953.
The poetic novellaSaint Manuel Bueno, Martyr(1931) focuses on a country priest, Don Manuel Bueno, who doesn't believe in afterlife. Don Manuel continues to take care of his parishioners, revealing his tragic secret only to a few people before his death. In NEBLA (1914, Mist) Unamuno presents the reader with a multitude of characters. Unamuno himself takes the role of God - he has created his characters. One of them is Augusto Pérez, who decides to commit suicide. Before it he meets the author, his creator, and realizes that he is a fictive character, a shadow destined to vanish in the mist. Augusto rebels against Unamuno, and dies - perhaps by suicide or because of disappointment in love.
As an essayist Unamuno's career began in the mid-1880s under the spell of German ideological romanticism and positivism. From this period dates EN TORNO AL CASTICISMO (1895), a series of essays, in which he attempted to defineSpain's character and its collective psychology. He was briefly interested in Marxism, but by 1917 he became openly anti-Marxist. A religious crisis in 1897 broke Unamuno's trust in the power of science and progress. According to Unamuno, "It is not our ideas which make us optimists or pessimists, but our optimism and pessimism, derived as much from physiological or perhaps pathological origins, which makes our ideas" (fromDel sentimiento trágico de la vida, 1913).Sentimiento (the tragic sense of life), arising from our desire for immortality and from the certainty of death, is no exception although it can be corroborated by rational beliefs. Articles written during the Spanish Republic (1931-36) reveal a liberal, who welcomed secular legislation but yet wished to preserve some traditional religious values. Unamuno caused a great stir with his attacks on casticismo, the dominance of the Castilian center over other regions, such as the Basque. He was often horrified by the devastation he saw imposed by the modern age on the genuine Spanish peasant.
One of Unamuno's most stimulating works isThe Life of Don Quixote and Sancho (1905), in which the heroic and tragic knight assumes the virtues of Christ. Quixote is the crystallization of our wish to overcome our destiny. With his unyielding will to create new spiritual values in the world of materialism, Don Quixote finally solves his existentialist quest: "I know who I want to be." In an introductory essay called 'The Sepulchre of Don Quixote,' the Spaniards are asked to find Don Quixote's tomb, and after many wandering, they conclude that there is no tomb, that they must think Don Quixote only as the incarnation of the Spanish mind. Unamuno draws parallels between Don Quixote and the life of the founder of the Jesuit order, Ignatius of Loyola.
Unamuno's thoughts influenced among others the Nobel writerJuan Ramón Jiménez(1881-1958) and Antonio Machado y Ruiz (1874-1947). The English writerGraham Greene wrote in his book of memoir,Ways of Escape (1980), that he had readLife and Death of Don Quixote and forgotten it, but after publishing the short story 'A Visit to Morin' and later the novel A Burnt-Out Case(1961), he noted that he shared the same distrust of theology. "Faith which does not doubt is dead faith," Unamuno once said. And inWays of Escape Greene wrote: "The Catholic solution of our problems, of our unique vital problem of the immortality and eternal salvation of the individual soul, satisfies the will, and therefore satisfies life; but the attempts to rationalize it by means of dogmatic theology fail to satisfy reason. And the reason has its exigencies as imperious as those of life."

"He combines the imperious, warrior-like vitality of a Nietzsche with the intellectual paralysis of a Pirandello, the stirring pride of an Ibsen with the frustration of a Kafka, oscillating between his frenzied exaltation of the "man of flesh and blood" and the diaphanous concepts of dreams and shadows. The heroic adventurer plunged into the tragedy of impotence. Unamuno relieved the irreducible opposition of the real and the ideal, the all and the nothing that Don Quixote lived before him. He sought the quixotic in all things, whether in creative writing or in contemplation of other writers, and assumed with his patron saint Don Quixote the tragic contradiction of all the great "feelers" ofEurope." (Unamuno Novelist by R.E. Batchelor, 1972) - Generación del 98- cultural movement, born after the Spanish-American War (1898). In was an attempted to reestablish the lost values of Spanish life through education and through opposition to all forms of provincialism. At the same time the movement celebrated the Spanish people and sought to introduce international influences to literature. Most prominent members of the group were Antonio Machado, Ramon Pérez de Ayala, Jacinto Benavente, Ramon Valle-Inclán, Pió Baroja, Miguel de Unamuno, and José Martínez Ruiz.

Selected works:

EN TORNO AL CASTICISMO, 1895

PAZ EN LA GUERRA, 1897

TRES ENSAYOS, 1900

AMOR Y PEDAGOGÍA, 1902

PAISAJES, 1902

DE MI PAÍS, 1903

LA VIDA DE DON QUIJOTE Y SANCHO, 1905 - The Life of Don Quixote and Sancho

POESÍAS, 1907

RECUERDOS DE NIÑEZ Y LA MOCEDAD, 1908

LA ESFINGE, 1909

MI RELIGIÓN, 1910 - Perplexities and Paradoxes

Rosario de sonetos líricos, 1911

SOLILOQUIOS Y CONVERSACIONES, 1911 - Essays and Soliloquies

POR TIERRAS DE PORTUGAL Y ESPAÑA, 1911

FEDRA, 1911

CONTRA ESTO Y AQUELLO, 1912

EL ESPEJO DE LA MUERTE, 1913

SENTIMIENTO TRÁGICO DE LA VIDA EN LOS HOMBRES Y EN LOS PUEBLOS, 1913 - The Tragic Sense of Life in Men and People

NEBLA, 1914 - Mist - Usva

ENSAYOS, 1916-18 (7 vols.)

ABEL SÁNCHEZ: UNA HISTORIA DE PASIÓN, 1917 - Abel Sánchez

TRES NOVELAS EJEMPLARES Y UN PRÓLOGO, 1920 - Three Exemplary Novels and a Prologue

EL CHRISTO DE VELÁZQUEZ (1920) - The Christ of Velázquez

LA TÍATULA, 1921

FEDRA, 1921

LA VENDA 1921

SOLEDAD Y RAGUEL, 1921

RAQUEL, 1921

ANDANZAS Y VISIONES ESPAÑOLAS, 1922

RIMAS DE DENTRO, 1923

TERESA, 1923

DE FUERTEVENTURA E PARIS, 1925

LA AGONÍA DEL CRISTIANISMO, 1925 - The Agony of Christianity

RAQUEL ENCADENADA, 1926

EL OTRO, 1927

CÓMO SE HACE UNA NOVELLA, 1927

DOS ARTÍCULOS Y DOS DISCURSOS, 1928

ROMANCERO DEL DESTIERRO, 1928

SOMBRAS DE SUEÑO, 1930

DOS ARTÍCULOS Y DOS DISCURSOS, 1930

ENSAYOS Y SENTENCIAS, 1932

EL OTRO, 1932 - The Other

SAN MANUEL BUENO, MÁRTIR, 1933 - Saint Manuel Bueno, Martyr - Pyhän miehen uhri

EL HERMANO JUAN O EL MUNDO ES TEATRO, 1934

DISCURSO LEÍDO EN LA SOLEMNE APERTURA DEL CURSO ACADÉMICO 1934-35 EN LA UNIVERSIDAD DESALAMANCA, 1934

LA CIUDAD DE HENOC, 1941

ENSAYOS, 1942 (2 vols.)

EL PORVENIR DE ESPAÑA, 1942

ANTOLOGÍA POÉTICA, 1942

CUNCA IBÉRICA, 1943

TEMAS ARGENTINOS, 1942

LA ENORMIDAD DE ESPAÑA, 1944

PAISAJES DEALMA, 1944

LA ENORMIDAD DE ESPA¨NA, 1945

Perplexities and Paradoxes, 1945

ALGUNAS CONSIDERACIONES SOBRE LA LITERATURA HISPANO-AMERICANA, 1947

VISIONES Y COMENTARIOS, 1949

MI SALAMANCA, 1950

MI VIDA, 1950 (2 vols.)

DE ESTO Y DE AQUELLO, 1950-54 (4 vols.)

OBRAS COMPLETAS, 1951-58 (16 vols.)

Poems, 1952

CANCIONERO, 1953

Abel Sanchez, and Other Stories, 1956

EN EL DESTIERRO, 1957

INQUIETUDES Y MEDITACIONES, 1957

CINCUENTA POESÍAS INÉDITAS, 1958

ESPAÑA Y LOS ESPAÑOLES, 1959 (2 vols.)

INQUIETUDES Y MEDITACIONES, 1957

MI VIDA Y OTROS RECUERDOS PERSONALES, 1959 (2 vols.)

AUTODIÁLOGOS, 1959

PENSAMIENTE Y POLÍTICO, 1965

LA VIDA LITERARIA, 1967

EL GAUCHO MARTÍN FIERRO, 1967

Our Lord Don Quizote: The Life of Don Quixote and Sancho, with Related Essays, 1967

LA AGONÍADEL CRISTIANISMO, MI RELIGIÓN Y OTROS ENSAYOS, 1967

DESDE EL MIRADOL DE LA GUERRA, 1970

The Agony of Chtistianity, 1974

The Last Poems of Moguel de Unamuno, 1974

Ficciones: Four Stories and a Play, 1975

ESCRITOS SOCIALISTAS, 1894-1922, 1976

ARTÍCULOS OLVIDADOS SOBRE ESPAÑA Y LA PRIMERA GUERRA MUNDIAL, 1976

EL TORNO A LAS ARTES, 1976

CRÓNICA POLÍTICA ESPAÑOLA (1915-1923), 1977

REPÚBLICA ESPAÑOLA Y ESPAÑA REPUBLICANA (1931-1936), 1979

ARTICULOS Y DISCURSOS SOBRE CANARIAS, 1980

ENSUEÑO DE UNA PATRIA, 1984

The Private World, 1985

EL RESENTIMIENTO TRÁGICO DE LA VIDA, 1991

ARTÍCULOS EN 'LA NACIÓN' DE BUENOS AIRES, 1919-1924, 1994

Taken from:
http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/unamuno.htm
http://www.onlinepoetryclassroom.org/poets/poets.cfm?prmID=357

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