Title

Opposing Views of the Existential Crisis in Miguel de Unamuno and Tomás Rivera

Subject Area

Spanish Peninsular Studies

Abstract

2016 marks milestone anniversaries for two influential works in Spanish literature, San Manuel Bueno, mártir by Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno and . . .Y no se lo tragó la tierra by Chicano author Tomás Rivera. Unamuno’s novel, published 85 years ago, hardly requires introduction, as it is a widely-read work of its prolific and prominent author. The second novella, celebrating its 45th anniversary, boasts great authority within the U.S.-Chicano literary community, but lacks the more universal renown that it deserves. Continents, generations, wars and important social movements separate these works, and yet they are variations on a theme—the modern existential crisis. Don Manuel, Unamuno’s doubting priest, confronts a dark abyss of meaninglessness brought on by his loss of faith, while the young protagonist of Rivera’s work, faced with similar doubt, not only overcomes his existential crisis, but is liberated by it. While Don Manuel believes that doubt in human immortality necessarily results in a devastating loss of meaning from which he must shield his parishioners at all costs, Rivera’s unnamed protagonist sees this doubt as a first step towards the emancipation of the Chicano people. My article uses the two work’s differing attitudes toward existential crisis to show how each protagonist defines himself vis-à-vis the unnamed masses to which he is compared.

Brief Bio Note

Julia Barnes is an Assistant Professor at Berry College. Her research interests include the portrayal of the maternal in contemporary Spanish novels and also representations of violence and gender. Recent publications include: “Artifacts of Memory in Almudena Grandes’s El corazón helado.Letras Hispanas 10.1 (2014) and “Spiritual Mother or Complete Human? Gender and Existence in Miguel de Unamuno’s San Manuel Bueno, mártir. Hispánofila 169 (2013).

Keywords

Miguel de Unamuno, Tomás Rivera, Existential crisis, Spanish novel, Chicano novel

Location

Coastal Georgia Center

Presentation Year

2016

Start Date

4-8-2016 10:50 AM

End Date

4-8-2016 11:10 AM

Embargo

10-8-2015

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Apr 8th, 10:50 AM Apr 8th, 11:10 AM

Opposing Views of the Existential Crisis in Miguel de Unamuno and Tomás Rivera

Coastal Georgia Center

2016 marks milestone anniversaries for two influential works in Spanish literature, San Manuel Bueno, mártir by Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno and . . .Y no se lo tragó la tierra by Chicano author Tomás Rivera. Unamuno’s novel, published 85 years ago, hardly requires introduction, as it is a widely-read work of its prolific and prominent author. The second novella, celebrating its 45th anniversary, boasts great authority within the U.S.-Chicano literary community, but lacks the more universal renown that it deserves. Continents, generations, wars and important social movements separate these works, and yet they are variations on a theme—the modern existential crisis. Don Manuel, Unamuno’s doubting priest, confronts a dark abyss of meaninglessness brought on by his loss of faith, while the young protagonist of Rivera’s work, faced with similar doubt, not only overcomes his existential crisis, but is liberated by it. While Don Manuel believes that doubt in human immortality necessarily results in a devastating loss of meaning from which he must shield his parishioners at all costs, Rivera’s unnamed protagonist sees this doubt as a first step towards the emancipation of the Chicano people. My article uses the two work’s differing attitudes toward existential crisis to show how each protagonist defines himself vis-à-vis the unnamed masses to which he is compared.