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Reviews TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF UNAMUNO CRITICISM' Cervantes gave Lope de Vega an epithet - monstTuo de la naturaleza, monster of nature - which has survived the personal animosity of the two great Spaniards and has come to signify a man so extraordinary in all facets of life that he overawes his contemporaries and succeeding generations with equal facility. Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936) was such a man, or better - to change the tense - is such a man. His published works fill sixteen closely printed volumes and there is still enough unpublished material to add four more. He was a philosopher of profound and prophetic dimensions. His philosophic writings, which are just now reaching a wider readership, place him in a position comparable to that enjoyed by Kierkegaard and Nietzsche as fore-runners of existentialism . Unamuno's poetry - three of the sixteen volumes - alone would have assured him the immortality he so vigorously sought in his writing. He was a great admirer of the Romantic peeL';;, principally Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, and Leopardi, but the poetry he wrote was much closer to that of Holderlin. As a novelist his works were revolutionary in technique C e.g. Niebla, 1914, English trans. Mist) with stream of consciousness, autonomous fictional characters, interior duplication and with aspects of Hegel's philosophy grafted into a narrative. His short novel San Manuel Bueno, martir is a masterpiece of narrative art. Unamuno's work as a playwright has remained unknown to the theatre public because of his uncompromising attitude toward the conventions of the stage. Perhaps a public initiated into the living paradoxes of contemporary theatre can at last give Unamuno's plays an audience. One may feel that the achievements already mentioned are enough accomplishment for a man of genius in any age - certainly Unamuno's ultimate importance will rest on these. It would be erroneous, however, to infer that the writing of these works was his principal occupation. Quantitatively they represent a minor part of his active pursuits. His principal duties were administering and teaching at the University of Salamanca. He was rector and professor of Greek and Latin at various times during the last forty-five years of his life. Yet the activity that made his name commonplace for two generations of Spaniards was his political involvement. He campaigned for the National cortes on two occasions, and for a ten-year span he published articles of political and social commentary at the rate of more than one evety day in the diverse newspapers of Spain. An index to these writings is an accurate key to the problems of the Spanish nation in the years before the civil war. Of the hundreds of books and articles written about Unamuno in Spain only a handful rise above the furor created by his public image. The first '"Julian Marias, Miguel de Unamuno, trans. Frances M. Lopez.-Morillas. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press [Toronto: Saunders of Toronto] 1966. Pp. xiv, 224. $4.75. Paul Ilie, Unamuno: An Existentialist View of Self and Society. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press 1967. Pp. xii, 299. $7.50 Vol1111Je XXXVIfl, Number 2, January 1969 208 MARIO J. VALDES and still one of the best of these exceptional critical encounters was Julian Marias' Miguel de Unamuno; it was published in Spain in 1943, has been reprinted five times, and is now offered to us in an English translation of remarkable fidelity. I shall return to comment further on this recent publication but I should like first to elaborate on the development of Unamuno criticism from 1943 to 1968. Outside the Spanish speaking nations, the principal and continuing interest in Unamuno has been by Hispanists of the academic world. The bibliography of Unamuno criticism outside Spain now far exceeds the 1,500 entries recorded in 1964. The inadequacy of much of this commentary is also noteworthy . The problem in this case has not been the interference of the political shadow of Unamuno but rather the overspecialization of the graduate school's training. To attempt to keep Unamuno within the limits of modern Spanish literature (usually within a single generation) , within a rigid concept of literary genres, to construe his thought as a non-philosophical gloss on...


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