"With Weapons of Burning Words": The Rhetoric of Miguel de Unamuno's Newspaper Writings
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Although he was most famous for his books of fiction and philosophy, 20th century Spanish public intellectual Miguel de Unamuno also wrote a large body of newspaper articles in which he critiqued politics and society during his lifetime. Unamuno lived during a polarized time in Spanish history, and he witnessed many political and social conflicts, including the Third Carlist War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, a military dictatorship, the Second Spanish Republic, Franco’s military coup, and the Spanish Civil War. In the midst of this atmosphere of conflict and polarization, Unamuno used the medium of the newspaper to diagnose Spain’s problem and to present possible solutions. This project examines the rhetorical style that Unamuno developed in response to his political context, as he examined Spanish society and the various political regimes in Spain. As he defined the problem, Unamuno characterized it as one of ideology, excess rationalism, and inauthenticity. To solve this problem, Unamuno approached it in two ways. First, he acted as what he called an “idea-breaker,” or as one who assumes an attitude of skepticism and uses individual thought to break down ideas and dogma. Second, he created a unified collective consciousness in Spain through what he called intrahistory, or the history that occurs beneath the level of written history. Intrahistory comprises the everyday bonds between people, and Unamuno used this to build a community and a collective consciousness in the people of Spain. He did this through his use of language, descriptions of the physical environment, deep bonds of personal relationships, legends, and spiritual authenticity.
Earle, Elizabeth Ray (2019). "With Weapons of Burning Words": The Rhetoric of Miguel de Unamuno's Newspaper Writings. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from