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Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 585

The 1930 novel Saint Manuel Bueno, Martyr by Miguel de Unamuno has many quotes that highlight its philosophical and religious themes. The following quotes are provided in English translation.

I know well enough that one of those leaders of what they call the Social Revolution said that religion is the...

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The 1930 novel Saint Manuel Bueno, Martyr by Miguel de Unamuno has many quotes that highlight its philosophical and religious themes. The following quotes are provided in English translation.

I know well enough that one of those leaders of what they call the Social Revolution said that religion is the opium of the people. . . . Yes, opium it is. We should give them opium, and help them sleep, and dream. I, myself, with my mad activity am giving myself opium.

Don Manuel then reflects on the role of religion. He admits that it pacifies the masses, but he sees this as a good thing.

“He [Don Manuel] made me a new man, a real Lazaro who was raised from the dead," he told me. "He gave me faith." "Faith?" I asked him. ‘Yes faith, faith in the consolation of life, faith in the happiness of life.’”

Lazaro reflects on the lasting effect of his friendship with the priest, who, ironically, gave him a kind of faith despite his own lack of faith in the tenets of the church.

He [Lazaro] became one more link between the two Valverde de Lucernas, the one at the bottom of the lake, and the one on the surface that is reflected in it. He was another of our dead and also, in his own way, one of our saints.

This quote shows the symbolic nature of the lake and submerged city beneath it.

I believe that my Saint Don Manuel and my brother Lazaro died thinking they did not believe, but without thinking they believed, actually did believe, in an active and resigned desolation.

Angela optimistically views the priest and her brother’s lack of faith as a sort of belief because of the good works that resulted from it.

I don’t know what is true and what is a lie, nor what I saw, or what I dreamed—or rather what I dreamed and what I only saw—nor what I knew, nor what I believed. I don’t know if I am transferring my consciousness to this paper as white as snow, and if it will remain there, leaving me without it. Why should I still keep it? Do I know anything?; do I believe anything? Has what I am writing about here really happened, and did it happen like I am telling it? Can things like these really happen? Is this just a dream, within another dream? Am I, Angela Carballino, now more than fifty years old, the only person in this village who is bothered by these strange thoughts about others?

This philosophical musing on the nature of reality wraps up Angela’s story, causing the reader to also question the narrative presented.

And those others around me, do they believe? What does it mean to believe? At least, they are alive. And now they believe in Saint Manuel, martyr, who without expecting immortality, supported their belief in it.

This quote that closes Angela’s memoir highlights the paradox of the priest who did not believe his own teachings.

I know very well that . . . nothing in this story ever happens; but I hope that is because everything remains, like mountains and lakes remain, and the simple, holy souls, beyond faith and desperation, are sheltered in the mountains and lakes, outside history, in a divine novel.

The writer’s closing words highlight the eternal quality of literature. While Emmanuel and Lazaro did not believe in the immortality of the human soul, fictional characters have their own immortality.

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