Saturday, April 10, 2010

Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo

Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo (1864 – 1936) was an essayist, novelist, poet, playwright and philosopher from Bilbao, in Spain's Basque Country.

Unamuno served as rector of the University of Salamanca two periods: from 1900 to 1924 and 1930 to 1936, during a time of great social and political upheaval. Unamuno was removed from his post by the government twice, first in 1924, banished to Fuerteventura on the Canary Islands, from where he escaped to France. 
Unamuno returned after the fall of General Primo de Rivera's dictatorship and took up his rectorship again. It is said in Salamanca that the day he returned to the University, Unamuno began his lecture by saying "As we were saying yesterday, ...", as Fray Luis de León had done in the same place four centuries before, as though he had not been absent at all. After the fall of Rivera's dictatorship, Spain embarked on its Second Republic. He was a candidate for the small intellectual party Al Servicio de la Republica.
The Republic was squashed when a military coup headed by General Francisco Franco caused the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War

As a result of his opposition to Franco, Unamuno was effectively removed for a second time from his University post. Also, in 1936 Unamuno had a brief public quarrel with the Nationalist general Millán Astray at the University in which he denounced both Astray and elements of the Francoist movement. He called the battle cry of the rightist Falange movement—"Long live death!"—repellent and suggested Astray wanted to see Spain crippled. One historian notes that his address was a "remarkable act of moral courage" and that he risked being lynched on the spot. Shortly afterwards, he was placed under house arrest, where he remained, broken-hearted, until his death ten weeks later.

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