Saint Manuel Bueno, Martyr was published at the beginning of the Spanish Republic, the end of Unamuno’s six-year exile in France for denouncing Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship, and just five years before Unamuno’s death. Two of Unamuno’s books were listed on the Vatican’s Index of Forbidden Books. The themes of life and death, faith, and immortality reverberate on a national as well as a personal level.
The Christological imagery sets up Don Manuel as a martyr for his nation and as a vehicle to present Unamuno’s spiritual anguish for himself and Spain. Don Manuel’s name suggests “Emmanuel” or “God is with us,” a Hebrew name given to Jesus Christ. Similarly, he is the suffering servant who ministers to the poor and loves the children. Lazarus Carballino draws a parallel between the biblical story of Christ calling Lazarus from the tomb by telling his sister that Don Manuel metaphorically raised him from the dead by converting him to the priest’s “holy cause.”
Lazarus’s resurrection resembles the one Unamuno envisioned for Spain: a turning away from the scientific and progressive and a turning inward to “intrahistoria,” the soul of Spain, the nation’s own Spanishness found within its people, culture, and topography. Don Manuel walks through the village and countryside with Lazarus the way Christ walked with his apostles, and his lectures present thoughts on dealing with the abulia, or...
(The entire section is 508 words.)