“(1864-1936) Spanish philosopher, poet, novelist, playwright, and essayist. The leading member of the Generacion del 98, Unamuno is a major figure in the history of modern thought. The conflict of reason and faith, religion and science, and the problem of life and death anguished him and led him to conclusions which anticipated Existentialism. A vision of the tragic nature of life, its absurdity, and man’s radical solitude is conveyed in his major philosophical works Del sentimiento tragico de la vida en los hombres y los pueblos (1913; tr The Tragic Sense of Life, 1958) and La agonia del cristianismo (1924; tr The Agony of Christianity, 1960). He also explored the problem of 20th-century materialism.
After the failure of his first novel Paz en la Guerra (1897), Unamuno invented the “nivola,” the best example of which is Niebla (1914; tr Mist, A Tragicomic Novel, 1928). Tres novelas ejemplares (1920); tr Three Exemplary Novels, 1930) and San Manuel Bueno, martir (1931; tr St. Manuel Bueno, Martyr, 1954) are his most popular works of fiction. Unamuno experimented with the autonomous character. In Mist the protagonist proclaims his own reality to be equal with that of the author. His novels are primarily concerned not with action, but with the minds of the characters and with philosophy.
One of Spain’s major 20th century poets, Unamuno’s best-known works include El Cristo de Velazquez (1920; tr The Christ of Velazquez, 1951) and Cancionero (1953, a posthumous poetic diary).”
Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.