Miguel de Unamuno Criticism - Essay

Jose A. Balseiro (essay date June 1934)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Balseiro, Jose A. “The Quixote of Contemporary Spain: Miguel de Unamuno.” PMLA 49, no. 2 (June 1934): 645-56.

[In the following essay, Balseiro comments on the works and life of Unamuno, arguing that Unamuno himself was a quixotic thinker.]

In his essay on Hamlet and Don Quixote, Ivan Tourguéniev stated that no man aspires to be called a Quixote. The Russian novelist did not presurmise the dream of Miguel de Unamuno. If the Knight-Errant makes clear that his duty binds him to protect the weak, relieve the oppressed, and punish the bad, Unamuno accepts and practices his creed. But Unamuno, being by far more quixotic than Cervantes, interprets...

(The entire section is 5603 words.)

Angel Del Rio (essay date 1956)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Del Rio, Angel. Introduction to Three Exemplary Novels, by Miguel de Unamuno, translated by Angel Flores, pp. 11-33. New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1956.

[In the following essay, Del Rio provides an overview of contemporary American responses to Unamuno and demonstrates that Three Exemplary Novels “are highly representative of Unamuno's conception of the tragic character,” noting that “the central idea in all [Unamuno's] fiction is the struggle to create faith from doubt and ethics from inner life.”]

I cannot help wondering, rereading these three strange stories thirty-five years after their first publication, what will be the modern American...

(The entire section is 4074 words.)

Peter G. Earle (essay date October 1964)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Earle, Peter G. “Unamuno and the Theme of History.” Hispanic Review 32, no. 4 (October 1964): 319-39.

[In the following essay, Earle provides readings of Unamuno's En torno al casticismo, Abel Sanchez, San Manuel Bueno, mártir, and Paz en la guerra, among others, to suggest that in Unamuno's conceptualization of history, the destiny of peoples is inextricably linked to the destiny of individuals.]

“¿Es la eternidad que pasa o el momento que se queda?”

The emphasis which Unamuno repeatedly placed on romantic, spiritual anxiety and on the enigmatic notion of intrahistoria has...

(The entire section is 8762 words.)

J. E. Varey (essay date 1966)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Varey, J. E. “Maese Miguel: Puppets as a Literary Theme in the Work of Unamumo.” In Spanish Thought and Letters in the Twentieth Century, edited by German Bleiberg and E. Inman Fox, pp. 559-72. Nashville, Tenn.: Vanderbilt University Press, 1966.

[In the following essay, Varey discusses how Unamumo utilizes images of puppets and puppetry as a recurring thematic motif throughout his body of work.]

“Aujourd'hui”—wrote Emile Zola in 1881—“le roman est devenu l'outil du siècle, la grande enquête sur l'homme et sur la nature.”1 Thirty-four years later, in 1925, José Ortega y Gasset declared that the new art was to be interpreted as...

(The entire section is 5077 words.)

Mario J. Valdes (essay date 1972)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Valdes, Mario J. “Metaphysics and the Novel in Unamuno's Last Decade.” Hispanofila 44 (1972): 33-44.

[In the following essay, Valdes argues that Unamuno's late works of literature, from Paz en la Guerra to San Manuel Bueno, mártir and La novella de don Sandalio, jugador de ajedrez, demonstrate a well-developed metaphysics and that Unamuno's literary works metaphorically express a dialectical method and a fundamental dualism.]

One of the fundamental problems that confronts the literary critic is how to determine the place and function of philosophy in literature. Because the novel is a more elastic genre the influence of philosophy in...

(The entire section is 5413 words.)

Salvador Jimenez-Fajardo (essay date fall 1976)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Jimenez-Fajardo, Salvador. “Unamuno's Abel Sanchez: Envy as a Work of Art.” Journal of Spanish Studies: Twentieth Century 4 (fall 1976): 89-103.

[In the following essay, Jimenez-Fajardo provides an extended close reading of Unamuno's Abel Sanchez to examine the manifestations of envy, arguing that in Abel Sanchez, it is Joaquin's envy, and the resulting obsession, that makes his art triumph over Abel's.]

Two men are friends from childhood. Abel is an artist, the other, Joaquín, a doctor. Always, it seems, Abel triumphs in life with ease and grace. Joaquín hates him for it. Abel takes from Joaquín the woman he loves. Joaquín saves...

(The entire section is 6139 words.)

D. L. Shaw (essay date April 1977)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Shaw, D. L. “Three Plays of Unamuno: A Survey of His Dramatic Technique.” Forum for Modern Language Studies 13, no. 2 (April 1977): 253-64.

[In the following essay, Shaw uses three plays by Unamuno—La esfinge, Fedra, and El otro—to trace the development of Unamuno's “narrative concept of drama,” noting that while Unamuno's early work was influenced by Ibsen, his later plays imitated Pirandello; the author concludes that the very qualities that made Unamuno a “distinguished innovator” in fiction undermine his success as a playwright.]

A prominent feature of critical reaction to Unamuno's theatre is the lack of interest which has...

(The entire section is 5962 words.)

Paula K. Speck (essay date November 1982)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Speck, Paula K. “The Making of a Novel in Unamuno.” South Atlantic Review 47, no. 4 (November 1982): 52-63.

[In the following essay, Speck argues that Como se hace una novella is a series of metanarratives constructed like a maze of mirrors in a carnival, suggesting that the novel tells the story of Unamuno's search for this narrative “way out” of the labyrinth of reflection.]

Como se hace una novela (1927), one of Miguel de Unamuno's last novels, contains his most extreme experiments with narrative form. In it, he set out to push to their farthest limit the explorations of the autonomous character, the self-reflecting narrative, and the...

(The entire section is 5069 words.)

Walter Glannon (essay date March 1987)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Glannon, Walter. “Unamuno's San Manuel Bueno, mártir: Ethics through Fiction.” Modern Language Notes 102, no. 2 (March 1987): 316-33.

[In the following essay, Glannon provides a close reading of Unamuno's 1931 novel, San Manuel Bueno, mártir, to explore the ways in which the novel addresses the possibilities of meaning in a world that appears godless and pointless.]

“… hier am Ende der Leiter steht der Asket und Märtyrer.”

Nietzsche: Morgenröthe, 113

Miguel de Unamuno was a writer of chameleon-like shifts in both personal and intellectual mood throughout...

(The entire section is 7375 words.)

Nicholas G. Round (essay date 1989)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Round, Nicholas G. “‘Without a City Wall’: Paz en la Guerra and the End of Realism.” In Re-Reading Unamuno, edited by Nicholas G. Round, pp. 101-20. Glasgow, Scotland: University of Glasgow Department of Hispanic Studies, 1989.

[In the following essay, Round argues that Paz en la Guerra is both one of the last works of nineteenth-century Spanish realism as well as postrealism—using a metanarrative to unite documentary, historical fact with novelesque, imaginative vision.]

Of Paz en la guerra two things are fairly generally granted: that it is unlike Unamuno's later novels, and that it stands at an extreme outer limit of Spanish...

(The entire section is 9489 words.)

Armand F. Baker (essay date winter 1990)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Baker, Armand F. “Unamuno and the Religion of Uncertainty.” Hispanic Review 58, no. 1 (winter 1990): 37-56.

[In the following essay, Baker explores the themes of faith and uncertainty in Unamuno's works, including Diario íntimio, Del sentimiento trágico de la vida, La agonía de Cristianismo, Vida de Don Quijote y Sancho, and Cristo de Velázquez.]

There has rarely been a writer who was more preoccupied with religion than Miguel de Unamuno, since almost everything he wrote can ultimately be related to his efforts to resolve the problem of the existence of God and the immortality of the soul. It is often taken for granted that, in spite of his...

(The entire section is 8326 words.)

Jennifer Lowe (essay date January 1993)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Lowe, Jennifer. “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Letter-Writer: Reflections On and In Unamuno's La Novela de Don Sandalio, Jugador de Ajedrez.Forum for Modern Language Studies 29, no. 1 (January 1993): 62-74.

[In the following essay, Lowe explores how Unamuno uses the epistolary form as a narrative method in La novela de Don Sandalio.]

“Fue por fin mi amigo al campo a curarse de sus murrias, tal y como le aconsejé, y desde allí me escribe esto: ‘Mi querido Miguel: No puedo más; pasado manaña me vuelvo a la ciudad.’”1 The “friend” allegedly writing to Unamuno from the countryside to announce his imminent return is a...

(The entire section is 6685 words.)

Stephen J. Summerhill (essay date 1999)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Summerhill, Stephen J. “The Autobiographical Subject as Allegorical Construct in Unamuno's Diario íntimio.” In Neuvas Perspectivas Sobre el 98, edited by John P. Gabriele, pp. 33-42. Madrid and Frankfurt am Main, Spain and Germany: Iberoamericana and Vervuert, 1999.

[In the following essay, Summerhill reads Unamuno's Diario íntimio as religious allegory, arguing that for Unamuno the “road to reality is through imitation of books; and sincerity of religious belief is a learned behavior.”]

Unpublished during Unamuno's lifetime, the Diario íntimo was discovered in the late 1950s by Armando Zubizarreta, who along with Antonio...

(The entire section is 4372 words.)

Audrey R. Gertz (essay date 1999)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Gertz, Audrey R. “Masquerading as the Archetype: Images of Femininity in Miguel de Unamuno's Nada menos que todo un hombre.” In Neuvas Perspectivas Sobre el 98, edited by John P. Gabriele, pp. 251-59. Madrid and Frankfurt am Main, Spain and Germany: Iberoamericana and Vervuert, 1999.

[In the following essay, Gertz suggests that in Nada menos que todo un hombre Unamuno subverts readers' understandings of archetypes through the fusion of the Self with the Other and the Other into the Mother.]

Miguel de Unamuno's short but powerful novel, Nada menos que todo un hombre (1916), illustrates according to one critic “a progressive...

(The entire section is 3949 words.)

Joan Ramon Resina (essay date 2000)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Resina, Joan Ramon. “For Their Own Good: The Spanish Identity and Its Grand Inquisitor, Miguel de Unamuno.” In La Generacion del 98: Frente al Nuevo Fin de Siglo, edited by Jesus Torrecilla, pp. 235-67. Atlanta, Ga.: Rodopi B.V., 2000.

[In the following essay, Resina contextualizes Unamuno's evolving political philosophy as a member of La Generacion del 98, paying close attention to the ways in which Unamuno's Basque heritage influenced his theories of linguistic and national identity.]

Sean cuales fueren las deficiencias que para la vida de la cultura moderna tenga el pueblo castellano, es preciso confesar que a su generosidad, a su...

(The entire section is 11693 words.)

Paul R. Olson (essay date 2003)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Olson, Paul R. “Lacquer Boxes: Como se hace una novella and the Return of the Nivola.” In The Great Chiasmus: Word and Flesh in the Novels of Unamuno, pp. 156-74. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 2003.

[In the following essay, Olson explores the Hegelian conceit of the ontological equivalence of Pure Being and Pure Nothingness in Unamuno's novels as represented by a set of nesting boxes each containing another laquered box and argues that over a period of forty years, Unamuno's use of the nesting-box motif provided a structural and topological guiding principle that informed his work.]

In 1914 Unamuno was summarily dismissed from...

(The entire section is 10785 words.)