San Manuel Bueno, Martyr

Analyzing 'San Manuel Bueno, Martyr': Truth in Times of Great Uncertainty and Collective Disillusionment College

Written in late 1930, just after the fall of military dictator Primo de Rivera, San Manuel Bueno, mártir was published at a time of economic downturn and political instability. King Alfonso XIII remained on the throne but shared the popular dislike of Rivera, meanwhile the republicans, who were mostly anti-clerical, were rapidly gaining support ahead of the municipal elections. In his ‘nivola’, Unamuno explores the idea of Truth. I will take this to mean that which is in accordance with fact or reality and not necessarily containing a transcendental meaning, although this may be the case. Unamuno utilises both form and content to portray the elusive nature of Truth and the importance of perception and belief when dwelling on the question of Truth, something that was particularly relevant given the historical context.

The notion of Truth, especially where it is related to the eternal quest for religious truth and the question of faith, is clearly prominent in the content of the novel. Don Manuel commits himself to a life of deliberate falsehood because he believes there are some truths too awful to be told, ‘la verdad… es acaso algo terrible, algo intolerable; la gente sencilla no podría vivir con ella’[1]. Manuel believes that...

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