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Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo

Personal information
Surname: Unamuno y Jugo
First name: Miguel
Commonly known as: Miguel de Unamuno
Born: 29 September 1864, Bilbao, Spain
Died: 31 December 1936

Miguel de Unamuno  (1864-1936) is widely seen as one of the major figures of the Generation of 1898. Born in the Basque city of Bilbao, as a child he lived through the Siege of Bilbao during the Third Carlist War – an experience that influenced his early writing. Throughout his life Unamuno worked as an essayist, novelist, playwright and poet. As an anti-Monarchist, Unamuno was considered an opponent of Primo de Rivera’s regime. Because of this, in 1924 Rivera had Unamuno exiled to Gran Canaria. From there, Unamuno went to France, refusing to return to Spain during Rivera’s dictatorship. Eventually, in 1930 (the year of Rivera’s death) Unamuno returned to Spain and resumed his role as Rector at the University of Salamanca. He also became more actively involved in politics, joining the Spanish Parliament in 1931. By 1936 and the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, Unamuno’s  political affiliations had shifted from the Republicans to the Nationalists. However, at the end of his life he angered General Franco’s Nationalist forces and spent his last days under house arrest in Salamanca.


Miguel de Unamuno’s works are of an extraordinary philosophical depth, but are no less engaging for all that. He is interested in the idea of the double and problematises identity as a constantly shifting, ethereal construct. Unamuno also uses his novels and plays to ‘explore the philosophical issues which the fear of death raises’ (Shanley Lyndon 1977: 258) and also to consider the inevitability of characters’ situations. They are fated to play out the roles assigned to them. This leads to an interest in reconsidering classical tragedies, such as in his plays Fedra (1918) and Medea (1933).

  • Lyndon Shanley, Mary. 1977. ‘Miguel de Unamuno: Death and Politics in the Work of a Twentieth-Century Philosopher’, Polity, 9.3, 257-78


Unamuno’s theatre is sparse, characterised by simple sets and few stage directions. Both his plays and his novels blur the boundaries between the fictional world and the world outside the theatre.

Plays in the database
Useful reading and websites
  • Ayllón, Cándido. 1963. ‘Experiments in the Theatre of Unamuno, Valle-Inclán and Azorín’, Hispania, 46.1, 49-56

  • Callahan, David. 1996. ‘The Early Reception of Miguel de Unamuno in England, 1907-1939’, The Modern Language Review, 91.2, 382-92

    This article gives a good overview of Unamuno's working life and the themes which interested him.

  • del Puerto Gómez Corredera, María. 2006. ‘Unamuno dramaturgo: un traje escénico para un teatro desnudo’, Cuadernos de la Cátedra Miguel de Unamuno, 41.1, 23-34 (in Spanish)

  • del Puerto Gómez Corredera, María. 2007. ‘El devenir del teatro de Unamuno en Latinoamérica’, Cuadernos de la Cátedra Miguel de Unamuno, 16, 365-89 (in Spanish)

  • Lyndon Shanley, Mary. 1977. ‘Miguel de Unamuno: Death and Politics in the Work of a Twentieth-Century Philosopher’, Polity, 9.3, 257-78

  • Shaw, D. L. 1977. ‘Three Plays of Unamuno: A Survey of His Dramatic Technique’, Forum for Modern Language Studies, 8.3, 253-264

  • Unamuno, Miguel de. 1958. Obras completas, vol. XII, ed. Manuel García Blanco. Madrid, Afrodisio Aguado (in Spanish)

  • Wyers, Frances. 1976. Miguel de Unamuno: The Contrary Self. London, Tamesis

Entry written by Gwynneth Dowling. Last updated on 13 October 2010.

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Patrick wrote 20 Feb 2011, 7:16 p.m.
Unamuno's paperfolding I have just rediscovered & translated Unamuno's short letter of 1902 to the Argentine magazine Caras y Caretas concerning paperfolding. This was the year before his book Amor y Pedagogia, with its extended appendix on the pajarita fold, appeared. In the letter, as in Amor (through don Fulgencio), Unamuno goes from his to an ironic fictional voice to investigate his topic. Let me know whether you're interested.
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