Unamuno (y Jugo), Miguel de

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UNAMUNO (y Jugo), Miguel de

Nationality: Spanish. Born: Bilbao, 29 September 1864. Education: Colegio de San Nicolás, and Instituto Vizacaíno, both Bilbao; University of Madrid, 1880-84, Ph.D. 1884. Family: Married Concepción Lizárraga Ecénarro in 1891; nine children. Career: Professor of Greek, University of Salamanca, 1891-1924, 1930-34; Rector, University of Salamanca, 1901-14, 1934-36; exiled to Canary Islands for criticism of Primo de Rivera government, 1924, then lived in Paris, 1924, and Hendaye, 1925-30; under house arrest for criticism of Franco government, 1936. Awards: Cross of the Order of Alfonso XII, 1905. Died: 31 December 1936.



Obras completas, edited by Manuel Garcia Blanco. 16 vols., 1966-71.

Selected Works, edited by Anthony Kerrigan. 7 vols., 1967-84.

Short Stories

El espejo de la muerte. 1913.

Abel Sánchez: Una historia de pasión. 1917; translated as Abel Sanchez, 1947.

Tres novelas ejemplares y un prólogo. 1920; as Three Exemplary Novels, 1930.

San Manuel Bueno, mártir y tres historias más. 1933.

Abel Sanchez and Other Stories. 1956.


Paz en la guerra. 1897; as Peace in War, 1983.

Amor y pedagogía. 1902.

Niebla. 1914; as Mist, 1928.

Tulio Montalban y Julio Macedo. 1920.

La tía Tula. 1921.


La Venda, La princesa, Doña Lambra. 1913.

Fedra. 1924.

Sombras de sueño. 1931.

El otro. 1932; as The Others, in Selected Works, 1976.

Raquel. 1933.

El hermano Juan; o, El mundo es teatro. 1934.

La esfinge. 1934.

Teatro completo, edited by Manuel García Blanco. 1959.


Poesías. 1907.

Rosario de sonetos líricos. 1911.

El Cristo de Velázquez. 1920; as The Christ of Velazquez, 1951.

Rimas de dentro. 1923.

Teresa. 1923.

De Fuerteventura a París. 1925.

Romancero del destierro. 1928.

Poems. 1952.

Cancionero: Diario poético. 1953.

Cincuenta poesías inéditas, edited by Manuel García Blanco. 1958.

Last Poems. 1974.


De la enseñanza superior en España. 1899.

Tres ensayos. 1900.

En torno al casticismo. 1902.

Paisajes. 1902.

De mi país. 1903.

Vida de Don Quixote y Sancho. 1905; as The Life of Don Quixote and Sancho, 1927.

Recuerdos de niñez y de mocedad. 1908.

Mi religión y otros ensayos breves. 1910; as Perplexities and Paradoxes, 1945.

Por tierras de Portugal de España. 1911.

Soliloquios y conversaciones. 1911.

Contra esto y aquello. 1912.

El porvenir de España, with Angel Ganivet. 1912.

Del sentimiento trágico de la vida en los hombres y en los pueblos. 1913; as The Tragic Sense of Life in Men and in Peoples, 1926.

Ensayos. 8 vols., 1916-18; revised edition, 2 vols., 1942.

Andanzas y visiones españolas. 1922.

La agonía del cristianismo. 1925; as The Agony of Christianity, 1928.

Essays and Soliloquies. 1925.

Cómo se hace una novela. 1927; as How to Make a Novel, in Selected Works, 1976.

Dos artículos y dos discursos. 1930.

La ciudad de Henoc: Comentario 1933. 1941.

Paisajes del alma. 1944.

Algunas consideraciones sobre la literatura hispano-americana. 1947.

Madrid. 1950.

Mi Salamanca. 1950.

Epistolario, with Juan Maragall. 195l; revised edition, 1976.

Autodiálogos. 1959.

Pensamiento político, edited by Elías Diaz. 1965.

Our Lord Don Quixote and Sancho with Related Essays. 1967.

Diario íntimo, edited by P. Félix García. 1970.

Epistolario, with Alonso Quesada, edited by Lázaro Santana. 1970.

Cartas 1903-1933. 1972.

The Agony of Christianity and Essays on Faith. 1974.

Escritos socialistas. 1976.

Unamuno "agitador de espíritus" y Giner: Correspondencia inédita, edited by D. Gómez Molleda. 1976.

Articulos olvidados sobre España y la primera guerra mundial, edited by Christopher Cobb. 1976.

Gramatica y glosario del Poema del Cid, edited by Barbara D. Huntley and Pilar Liria. 1977.

The Private World: Selections from the Diario íntimo and Selected Letters, 1890-1936, edited by Allen Lacy. 1984.

Escritos de Unamuno sobre Portugal, edited by Angel Marcos de Dios. 1985.

Cartas íntimas: Espistolario entre Unamuno y los hermanos Gutierrez Abascal, edited by Javier Gonzalez de Durana. 1986.

Epistolario completo Ortega-Unamuno, edited by Laureano Robles Carcedo. 1987.

Azorín-Unamuno: Cartas y escritos complemetarios, edited by Laureano Robles Carcedo. 1990.

Translator, Etica de las prisiones, Exceso de leglslación, De las leyes en general, by Herbert Spencer. 3 vols., 1895.

Translator, Historia de la economica política, by J.K. Ingram. 1895(?).

Translator, Historia de las literaturas castellana y portuguesa, by Ferdinand J. Wolf. 2 vols., 1895-96.


Critical Studies:

The Lone Heretic: A Biography of Unamuno by Margaret Thomas Rudd, 1963; Death in the Literature of Unamuno by Mario J. Valdés, 1964; Unamuno: The Rhetoric of Existence by Allen Lacy, 1967; Unamuno: An Existential View of Self and Society by Paul Ilie, 1967; Unamuno by Martin Nozick, 1971; Unamuno's Webs of Fatality by David G. Turner, 1974; Unamuno: Abel Sánchez by Nicholas G. Round, 1974; Unamuno: The Contrary Self by Frances Wyers, 1976; Unamuno: San Manuel Bueno, Mártir by John Butt, 1981; Intra-Historia in Miguel de Unamuno's Novels: A Continual Presence by Peggy W. Watson, 1993.

* * *

Miguel de Unamuno came late to fiction, having published numerous volumes of essays, plays, and poetry before his first collection of short stories, El espejo de la muerte (Death's Mirror), appeared in 1913. Individual stories are not remarkable, although most of Unamuno's major preoccupations appear; given the unity of his work and thought, Unamuno expresses certain nuclear ideas regardless of genre. Many stories were preliminary sketches for themes later developed fully as novels, theatrical works, or essays. Important concepts treated include personality conflict or splitting, humanity's internal battles against itself or others, the contrast between public and private persona, and the problem of faith versus doubt. The difficulty of truly knowing oneself, the desire for immortality, the need for proof of God's existence, and the relationship between creator and creation are repetitive concerns. Love, death, parenthood, the conflict between reason and passion or faith, and various existential questions are also major themes: human's destiny, life's ultimate meaning, the nature of physical reality, the absurdity of existence, radical solitude, the impossibility of communication.

Unamuno's most significant contribution to fiction is his own peculiar creation, the nivola, born of his reaction against canonical realism and naturalism as well as his rejection of modernism and his scorn for the concept of genres. Unamuno claimed to write without a preconceived plan, freeing his characters from the constraints of plot. He eliminated descriptions and background details (customs, characters' prior lives) to focus on dialogue as reflecting the characters' internal drama, passion, and striving. Characters were termed "agonists," sufferers. His open-minded narratives allegedly had no rules but included important novelettes whose inherent theatricality resulted in frequent dramatic adaptations.

"Nada menos que todo un hombre" ("Every Inch a Man"), one of Unamuno's most characteristic and best-known novelettes, paints the enigmatic portrait of a marriage whose partners neither coincide in sentiments nor succeed in communicating—until it is too late. Julia dreams of living a great love like that of romantic heroines, while Alejandro considers novels stupid and talk of love beneath the dignity of a real man. Driven to desperation and adultery in her efforts to provoke some show of emotion from Alejandro, Julia is confined to an asylum by her husband. Alejandro terms his wife "a thing of his," incapable of infidelity by definition; therefore, she must remain institutionalized until she renounces the crazy notion that she has been unfaithful. Her spirit finally broken, Julia "confesses" her fidelity, regains her liberty, and dies—provoking Alejandro's suicide. Readers must attempt constantly to define and redefine the pair's true feelings in the face of silence, contradiction, paradoxical acts, and outright lies. Most of Unamuno's novelettes are studies of an overwhelming passion or monomania; here two obsessions lock in mortal struggle.

In 1920 Unamuno published Tres novelas ejemplares y un prólogo (Three Exemplary Novels) containing the novelettes "Dos madres" ("Two Mothers"), "El marqués de Lumbria" ("The Marquis of Lumbria"), plus "Every Inch a Man." Although all three study failed marriages, portray husbands who have past histories as libertines (something Unamuno sternly disapproved), and end tragically, both new stories emphasize maternal instinct or drive as overpowering urges. Both pit iron-willed, domineering women against more scrupulous and decent younger women for the possession of a weak and pusillanimous man, the "right" to motherhood, and control over the future child. Wealthy and beautiful Raquel in "Two Mothers," believing herself too old for childbearing, forces her lover Juan to marry an impoverished younger woman, sire her child, and deliver it to Raquel. The women's battle for the baby drives the weak-willed Juan to escape through a fatal automobile accident. By contrast "The Marquis of Lumbria" focuses upon the decadent aristocracy (despised by Unamuno, an erstwhile socialist). The two daughters of the old marquis (who has no sons) fight to bear the future marquis; when the younger Luisa becomes engaged to Tristan, the elder Carolina seduces him and manages to give birth to an illegitimate son before the legitimate heir is born. The sisters' struggle, Tristan's passivity, and postpartum complications end Luisa's life, and Carolina forces the weak-willed widower to marry her and legitimize her firstborn. While less hermetic than "Every Inch a Man," these two tales present "agonists" locked in mortal combat, with victors who believe they are in control yet are hostage to their own passions. Unamuno's women are typically stronger than his men, even if their roles are minor; here they occupy center stage.

In 1933 Unamuno published a volume containing "La novela de don Sandalio, jugador de ajedrez" ("The Novella of Don Sandalio, Chess Player"), "Un pobre hombre rico o el sentimiento cómico de la vida" ("A Poor Rich Man, or the Comic Sentiment of Life"), "San Manuel Bueno, mártir" ("Saint Emmanuel the Good, Martyr," the title story), and "Una historia de amor" ("A Love Story"). Seen as the definitive formulation of Unamuno's religious quandary and philosophical position, "Saint Emmanuel the Good" has very much overshadowed other contents of the volume. Nevertheless, "The Novella of Don Sandalio" is one of Unamuno's most interesting literary experiments. A series of letters written by the unnamed narrator to Felipe implies the latter's response—Felipe's replies are critiqued although his letters are not included. The one-sided correspondence chronicles the narrator's passive relationship with don Sandalio in the casino of a small coastal resort where he is spending the summer. While proclaiming his dislike for stupidity, banal conversations, and polite society, the narrator flees solitude, frequenting the casino where he needs not establish any relationships. Observing Sandalio, the local chess wizard, and noting his taciturnity, he imagines Sandalio's sentiments mirror his own. Their silence continues after becoming chess partners, but the narrator's curiosity grows; he fantasizes about Sandalio's thoughts, feelings, and life, projecting his own preferences, creating a figure to his own liking if not exactly in his own image. Startled when Sandalio disappears, he is dismayed, even revolted to hear he has been jailed, not because of moral scruples but because his version of Sandalio must be modified. Still more upset by a visit from Sandalio's son-in-law, he learns that Sandalio not only had a family but had discussed the narrator with them. He is quite relieved when Sandalio dies. Fraught with chess imagery and ploys, the novella is part game, part serious treatise on the creation of a literary character and characters' ultimate autonomy, as well as a meditation on the role of illusion in human relationships. Like most of Unamuno's tales, this one is dense, susceptible of multiple interpretations, and rich in intellectual and philosophical nuances.

—Janet Pérez

See the essays on "Every Inch a Man" and "Saint Emmanuel the Good, Martyr."