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About Miguel de Unamuno. Miguel de Unamuno. As a young man, he was interested in the Basque language, and competed for a teaching position in the Instituto de Bilbao, against Sabino Arana. Unamuno worked in all major genres: the essay, the novel, poetry and theatre, and, as a modernist, contributed greatly to dissolving the boundaries between genres. In addition to his writing, Unamuno played an important role in the intellectual life of Spain. He served as rector of the University of Salamanca for two periods: from to and to , during a time of great social and political upheaval.
Unamuno was removed from his post by the government in , to the protest of other Spanish intellectuals. He lived in exile until , first banned to Fuerteventura 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.
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It is said in Salamanca that the day he returned to the University, Unamuno began his lecture by saying "As we were saying yesterday, After the fall of Rivera's dictatorship, Spain embarked on its second Republic, a short-lived attempt by the people of Spain to take democratic control of their own country.
The burgeoning Republic was eventually squashed when a military coup headed by General Francisco Franco caused the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.
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Having begun his literary career as an internationalist, Unamuno gradually became a convinced Spanish nationalist, feeling that Spain's essential qualities would be destroyed if influenced too much by outside forces. Thus for a brief period he actually welcomed Franco's revolt as necessary to rescue Spain from radical influence. However, the harsh tactics employed by the Francoists in the struggle against their republican opponents caused him to oppose both the Republic and Franco. As a result of his opposition to Franco, Unamuno was effectively removed for a second time from his University post.
He called the battle cry of the rightist Falange movement—"Long live death! 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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