Youth as ideoclasm: Miguel De Unamuno and "La Joven Literatura"
Harkema, Leslie J
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In En torno al casticismo (1895), Miguel de Unamuno called for "una verdadera juventud" that would revive Spain from national stagnation at the end of the nineteenth century. Over the next decade, Unamuno frequently returned to the topic of youth in his essays and poetry, presenting it as a force of social regeneration and the antidote to the condition of cultural paralysis that he called la ideocracia. With the collection and reprinting of many of these essays by Madrid's Residencia de Estudiantes (1916-1918), Unamuno's preoccupation with youth reached a new generation of readers, including future members of the group known in the 1920s as "La Joven Literatura." This dissertation proposes that the concept of youth crafted by Unamuno at the turn of the twentieth century can illuminate the often acknowledged yet rarely studied impact of this writer on the members of "La Joven Literatura." Noting that the generational model in criticism of twentieth-century Spanish literature has impeded examinations of this relationship, I place all of these artists within the shared cultural context of European Modernism (1890-1930), a period during which youth is continuously celebrated as heroic and authoritative. My analysis of Unamuno's turn-ofthe-century work in the areas of religion, politics, and poetics reveals a treatment of youth that reflects this Modernist stance. In terms developed by Paul Ricoeur, it can be described as utopian, as it opposes and aims to disrupt dominant ideologies in each of these sectors, which Unamuno characterizes as products of age: religious dogma or gnosis; modem nationalism; and poetic trends such as modernismo. I then trace this ideo-clastic view of youth in the writing of four members of "La Joven Literatura": José Moreno Villa, Gerardo Diego, Emesto Giménez Caballero, and José Bergamín. In their relationships with Unamuno and his work, these individuals invoke his turn-of-the-century texts and ideas, and reflect aspects of the wider cultural discourse of youth within literature and politics during the Modernist period: Thus I conclude that, despite his exile from Spain in the 1920s, Unamuno's vision of youth played a fundamental role in shaping the attitudes of this generation.
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