100 years since the publication of Miguel de Unamuno’s The Tragic Sense of Life, we examine the beauty of his seemingly macabre philosophy.
By Stefany Anne Golberg
Miguel de Unamuno’s earliest memory was of a bomb landing on the roof of his neighbor’s house during Spain’s final Carlist War. The philosopher and poet was born in conflict. Unamuno was a Spanish patriot and one of its most outspoken critics; a Basque who was also a Spaniard; a child who wanted to be a Catholic saint; a philosopher who was suspicious of philosophy.
Miguel de Unamuno woke one night in 1897, tormented by dreams of falling into nothingness. Just a few months earlier, Unamuno’s infant son Raimundo had contracted meningitis. Raimundo’s illness disabled him physically and mentally. He was not expected to live long. Miguel de Unamuno believed that this tragedy was his fault, divine punishment for turning away from his childhood faith and embracing scientific rationalism. That night in 1897, Unamuno’s wife Concha found her husband sobbing. She held him and called out, “My child!” Years later, Unamuno wrote of this experience and the lasting effect of those two words.
In a moment of supreme, of abysmal anguish, wracked with superhuman weeping, when she saw me in the claws of the Angel of Nothingness, she cried out to me from the depths of her maternal being, superhuman and divine: “My child!”
A SPOONFUL OF SUGAR
"Sweets" might sound like a tame recipe booklet, but the tale of Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound is actually pretty creepy.
By Meg Favreau
WHAT'S IN AN ANNIVERSARY?
People were annoyed with Proust even when he was alive, so how can we keep him relevant today? By pushing his anniversary, of course.
By Paula Marantz Cohen
THE NAKED TRUTH
As Discovery’s most notorious show prepares to return, we ask ourselves: Is it okay to be entertained by exploitation if we acknowledge we’re being manipulated?
By Joan Marcus
IN THE BUFF
The naked woman in art isn’t unusual, but we have trouble viewing the male body as a sexual, or artistic, object.
By James Polchin