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Miguel de Unamuno

Miguel de UnamunoExplore# Miguel de Unamuno

Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo (September 29, 1864 – December 31, 1936) was a multi-faceted Spanish writer, an essayist, novelist, poet, playwright, philosopher, and educator[1†]. He was born in Bilbao, a port city of the Basque Country, Spain[1†][2†]. Unamuno’s essays had considerable influence in early 20th-century Spain[1†][3†][1†]. He served as the rector of the University of Salamanca for two periods[1†][2†]. His major philosophical essay was "Del sentimiento trágico de la vida" (1912), and his most famous novel was "Abel Sánchez: La historia de una pasión" (1917), a modern exploration of the Cain and Abel story[1†][2†].

Early Years and Education

Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo was born on September 29, 1864, in Bilbao, Biscay, Spain[3†][4†]. He was the son of Basque parents[3†][4†]. His father passed away when Miguel was just six years old, and he was primarily raised by his mother and grandmother[3†][4†]. Under their guidance, he grew up to be a young man with a strong Catholic faith[3†][4†].

Unamuno entered the University of Madrid in 1880[3†][5†]. There, his interest shifted more towards intellectual pursuits rather than religious ones[3†][4†]. He voraciously read books on philosophy, psychology, and history, and by the age of 20, he had learned 11 languages[3†][4†]. He received his doctorate in philosophy and letters in 1884[3†][5†].

In 1891, Unamuno became a professor of Greek language and literature at the University of Salamanca[3†][5†]. He returned to Bilbao after school and embarked on a career as a tutor and essayist[3†][4†].

Career Development and Achievements

After completing his education, Miguel de Unamuno returned to Bilbao in 1890 and embarked on a career as a tutor and essayist[4†][6†]. He had a keen interest in philosophy, but due to the politicized nature of philosophy in Spain at the time, he was unable to secure an academic appointment in that field[4†][2†][4†][6†]. Instead, he became a professor of Greek[4†][3†][2†][4†][5†][6†].

In 1901, Unamuno became the rector of the University of Salamanca[4†][3†][2†][5†]. However, he was relieved of his duties in 1914 after publicly supporting the Allied cause in World War I[4†][3†]. His opposition in 1924 to General Miguel Primo de Rivera’s rule in Spain resulted in his forced exile to the Canary Islands, from which he escaped to France[4†][3†]. When Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship fell, Unamuno returned to the University of Salamanca and was reelected rector of the university in 1931[4†][3†].

Unamuno’s career was not without controversy. In October 1936, he denounced General Francisco Franco’s Falangists, was removed once again as rector, and was placed under house arrest[4†][3†]. He died of a heart attack two months later[4†][3†].

Unamuno was an early existentialist who concerned himself largely with the tension between intellect and emotion, faith and reason[4†][3†]. His work in all major genres: the essay, the novel, poetry, and theater, contributed greatly to dissolving the boundaries between genres[4†][2†]. His vigorous and iconoclastic essays have any common theme, it is that of the need to preserve one’s personal integrity in the face of social conformity, fanaticism, and hypocrisy[4†][3†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Miguel de Unamuno was a prolific writer who worked in all major genres: the essay, the novel, poetry, and theater[7†]. His works are characterized by a unique and innovative style, which was based on the spoken language and rejected rhetoric[7†]. Here are some of his main works:

Unamuno’s works are considered innovative and unique, and they can’t be reproduced[7†]. His use of words was not as transparent as that from a true Spanish speaker, which Ortega y Gasset argued came from the fact that his mother tongue wasn’t Spanish (Castilian) but Basque, and he’d had to learn Spanish[7†].

Analysis and Evaluation

Miguel de Unamuno was a unique figure in the world of Spanish literature and philosophy[3†]. His works, which spanned essays, novels, poetry, and plays, were characterized by a unique and innovative style[3†][9†]. Unamuno’s writings were deeply existential and personal, probing the “sole question” of survival after death[3†][9†].

Unamuno was an early existentialist who concerned himself largely with the tension between intellect and emotion, faith and reason[3†]. At the heart of his view of life was his personal and passionate longing for immortality[3†]. According to Unamuno, man’s hunger to live on after death is constantly denied by his reason and can only be satisfied by faith, and the resulting tension results in unceasing agony[3†].

His works, such as “Del sentimiento trágico de la vida” and “La Agonía del Cristianismo”, are considered key texts in existentialist philosophy[3†][9†]. Unamuno’s writings were marked by a rejection of reason as capable of examining the problem of mortality, preferring instead an imaginative approach[3†][9†]. To this end, he used literature, both his own and others’, as a method to explore these existential questions[3†][9†].

Unamuno’s works have had a considerable influence in early 20th-century Spain[3†]. His essays, in particular, have been noted for their vigorous and iconoclastic nature, often challenging social conformity, fanaticism, and hypocrisy[3†]. His writings have been described as a “tremendous fragment of Spain” and continue to be studied and analyzed for their philosophical content[3†][9†].

Personal Life

Miguel de Unamuno was born in Bilbao, a port city of the Basque Country, Spain, the son of Félix de Unamuno and Salomé Jugo[2†]. He was interested in the Basque language, which he could speak[2†].

In 1891, Unamuno married his childhood sweetheart, Concepción Lizárraga[2†][10†][6†]. The couple had a large family, with some sources reporting they had ten children[2†][10†], while others state they had eleven[2†][6†] or nine[2†].

Unamuno was often seen in the terrace of the Café Novelty, founded in 1905, in the Plaza Mayor of Salamanca[2†]. He became a member of the Socialist Grouping of Bilbao in 1894, a membership that lasted until 1897[2†].

Unamuno’s personal life was deeply intertwined with his professional life. His opposition to General Miguel Primo de Rivera’s rule in Spain resulted in his forced exile to the Canary Islands, from which he escaped to France[2†][3†][2†]. When Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship fell, Unamuno returned to the University of Salamanca[2†][3†][2†]. However, in October 1936, he denounced General Francisco Franco’s Falangists, was removed once again as rector, and was placed under house arrest[2†][3†][2†]. He died of a heart attack two months later[2†][3†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Miguel de Unamuno’s work had a considerable influence in early 20th-century Spain[3†][2†]. His essays, novels, poetry, and plays contributed greatly to dissolving the boundaries between genres[3†][2†]. Unamuno was an early existentialist who concerned himself largely with the tension between intellect and emotion, faith and reason[3†][2†].

At the heart of his view of life was his personal and passionate longing for immortality[3†][2†]. According to Unamuno, man’s hunger to live on after death is constantly denied by his reason and can only be satisfied by faith, and the resulting tension results in unceasing agony[3†][2†]. This concept was expounded in his major philosophical essay, “Del sentimiento trágico de la vida” (1912), which is considered a fundamental challenge to religion as well as philosophy[3†][11†].

Unamuno’s legacy is marked by his vigorous and iconoclastic essays, which often focused on the need to preserve one’s personal integrity in the face of social conformity, fanaticism, and hypocrisy[3†]. His work continues to be studied and analyzed for its contributions to philosophy, literature, and the understanding of the human condition[3†][2†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. New World Encyclopedia - Miguel de Unamuno [website] - link
  2. Wikipedia (English) - Miguel de Unamuno [website] - link
  3. Britannica - Miguel de Unamuno: Spanish educator, philosopher, and author [website] - link
  4. The Famous People - Miguel De Unamuno Biography [website] - link
  5. Academy of American Poets - About Miguel de Unamuno [website] - link
  6. MetaUnfolded.com - Miguel de Unamuno Bio, Early Life, Career, Net Worth and Salary [website] - link
  7. Classic Spanish Books - The works of Miguel de Unamuno [website] - link
  8. Wikiwand - Miguel de Unamuno - Wikiwand [website] - link
  9. Duke University Press - Hispanic American Historical Review - Miguel de Unamuno [website] - link
  10. SunSigns - Miguel De Unamuno Biography, Life, Interesting Facts [website] - link
  11. Springer Link - Phenomenology and Existentialism in the Twentieth Century - Chapter: Unamuno as “Pathological” Phenomenologist: Tragic Sense and Beyond [website] - link
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