Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo (Spain, 1864)
"Amor y Pedagogia" (1902)
"Niebla/ Fog" (1913) ++
Augusto Perez è un giovane ricco e svagato che s’innamora della bella e povera Eugenia. La sua corte, favorita dalla zia della ragazza (che pensa ai soldi), è ostacolata dall’amore fra Eugenia e Maurizio, squattrinato e fannullone. Eugenia lavora per liberarsi dell’ipoteca sulla casa, ma non riesce a convincere l’amato a fare altrettanto; Augusto non si dà per vinto, e riscatta l’ipoteca per lei, ma lei, ma la ragazza lo prende per un insulto, come se lui volesse comprarla. Al massimo del suo cinismo, Maurizio le suggerisce di sposare Augusto e diventare il suo amante, così avrà risolto tutti i suoi problemi: l’orgogliosa Eugenia s’infuria, lo lascia e si butta fra le braccia d’Augusto, che, però, è turbato, perché si rende conto che tende ad innamorarsi di tutte le ragazze che incontra; alla fine, tuttavia, cede al fascino d’Eugenia, e va a chiederla in sposa agli zii. Si stanno facendo i preparativi dello sposalizio quando, all’improvviso, Eugenia fugge con Maurizio: Augusto, umiliato e canzonato, decide di suicidarsi, ma l’autore, Unanumo, non glielo permette; ora Augusto è anche disperato ed avvilito nel rendersi conto d’essere pura finzione, neppure libero di morire. Unanumo decide di farlo morire ed Augusto muore come previsto, ma credendo d’essere stato lui a deciderlo, d’aver battuto l’autore. Unanumo medita di farlo resuscitare, ma Augusto ribatte che i personaggi di finzione devono seguire una loro logica e, come tali, non concedono all’autore la totale libertà. Avvincente romanzo sul romanzo, in particolare il dialogo fra autore e personaggio.
"Abel Sanchez" (1917) +
"Del Sentimiento Tragico de la Vida en los Hombres y en los Pueblos" (1913) [h]
"Nada Menos que Todo un Hombre" (1920)
"San Manuel Bueno Martir/ Saint Manuel the Good Martyr" (1933) +
is a philosophical novella about a priest who secretely lost his religious faith but nonetheless keeps playing his role because he feels that people need it. Precisely because he does it out of generosity, even though he would like to commit suicide, his actions are as good as they can be, they emanate pure love. The best priest in the world doesn't believe in God. Not only is his performance the ultimate good but he even has to resist the temptation to commit suicide (the logical action to take for someone who doesn't believe in God) in order to perform it. Basically, he suffers all his life in secret to help the rest of us not to suffer. Jesus suffered in public, on a cross, whereas this priest doesn't even get that recognition. But this priest has understood the ultimate purpose of religion. Unamuno accepts the communist slogan that "religion is the opium of the people" but turns it into a positive fact: people need "that" kind of opium in order to survive and be happy, otherwise everybody would be depressed all the time and eventually commit suicide. The fact that God does not exist has to be kept a secret. There is only one problem with this novella: it is not clear why Angela writes the memoir if she wants to make sure that nobody will ever know.
The story is told as Angela's memoir about Manuel, the village priest who settled in the village bringing books when she was still a child.
Her brother Lazaro was in America, supporting the family.
Angela was sent to study at the school run by the nuns.
When she returned, she was eager to meet the priest who had become
a living legend, a priest with a unique skill for consoling the suffering.
Years later, Lazaro returned. He had made enough money to move his
mother and sister to the capital city, but they refused. Lazaro,
who had picked up anticlerical ideas in America, became jealous of
Manuel, who exerted such a strong influence on his women.
When their mother got terminally ill, Manuel asked Lazaro to become a good Christian
and promise to pray for his mother. This made his mother die peacefully.
Now Lazaro and Manuel became good friends. Lazaro started to behave
like a good Christian who truly believes in God. But one day he confessed
to Angela that he never believed: Manuel convinced him to just pretend,
and Manuel himself was pretending. Manuel was concerned that people never
doubted God because it would kill them. Manuel wanted them to really believe
that they were immortal, when in fact he didn't believe it.
Lazaro admired him for his devotion to make people happy through a lie,
and started doing the same.
Manuel confessed to Lazaro that he was tempted by suicide, and that his
father had been too.
Even on his deathbed, Manuel implores Lazaro and Angela to continue the
charade, to help people believe in God, believe in their illusion, so that they can live peaceful lives.
Then Manuel asks to be taken outside,
to die in public, surrounded by his people.
Lazaro reveals that Manuel suspected that many saints had died in the same
condition, not believing in the afterlife that they were preaching.
Lazaro himself gets weaker and dies.
Angela writes this memoir in her fifties, when the Church is about to declare Manuel officially a saint.
Now Unamuno writes about himself. He thinks that Manuel and Lazaro could
have told the village that they didn't believe in God and the people would
not have believed them, because what matters is actions not words, and their
actions had been precisely what God commanded.
"La Novela de Don Sandalio" (1933)
"El Cristo de Velazquez" (1920) [p] +
"Romancero del Destierro" (1928) [p]