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Such an amazing book Metafiction at its finest. I got my paws on an English translation of NIEBLA by Miguel de Unamuno It was written over 100 years ago it reeks of postmodern metafiction, you know, the type in which a character finds himself literally becoming invented or destroyed by his god, our author It is an important feat, a relevant historical artifact in how the writer tries to break ties with classic conventions of the novel We exist, we exist! is the cry of these malcontents, these fictional persons But read now, in the middle of the #MeToo movement, it could be a wee unsavory, as Unamuno traverses the societal personal reasons for dating women In the 1910's.And how could Fog not be this way, when the author himself alludes to THE premier Spanish work, obviously DON QUIXOTE This is an extension of that very Spanish traitthe one in which the writer cannot unglue himself from his creation, indeed intrinsically becoming part of the work himself. ¿No es acaso la liturgia de todas las religiones un modo de brezar el sueño de Dios y que no despierte y deje de soñarnos?Is not the whole liturgy, of all religions, only a way perhaps of soothing God in His dreams, so that He shall not wake and cease to dream us?Mindboggling concept, and yet it manages to still seem desolately average it's a miracle.It may just be that in this period words seem to not want to come at me they almost seem to refuse to be summoned, or maybe they want me me to seek them harder, and I can't So it may be me, it may be the words, but in this case I think it is the book I don't feel like there is much about it to be said.You should probably know, before my attempt at saying something, that I am a huge admirer of Luigi Pirandello's work To me, he is one of a kind, and he is unequalled My Spanish professor swears up and down that Unamuno and Pirandello never read each other's works, but their philosophies are disconcertingly similar, and, useless to say, Unamuno's appears to me ad the rough copy of Pirandello's This may be due exclusively to the fact that I'd read (and loved And reread And reloved) Pirandello before Unamuno's arrival in my literary panorama, or it may be due to the fact that Pirandello's world is so wide and deep and ample no matter the dimension you're considering, and Unamuno gave me not even the littlest hint of the vertigo Pirandello gives me Now, moving on to the book: Niebla is one of the most interesting literary experiments I've ever had the pleasure to see It's about the collision of two worlds, the real and the fictional ones, and this I can't help but enjoy It's the story that the author uses as background where the main flaw of the book lies: uneventful, uninteresting, gray Unmeaningfulthan meaningless, and I can't say whether the latter would have been a less unappreciative adjective Especially when reading books that I know have been written following a solid and sound conceptual system, I expect to and enjoy finding in each episode of the plot aor less veiled reference to that system I like when actions are soaked with thoughts And what I felt was that in this book, if not very superficially, they weren't.I think I will just stick with Pirandello. A philosophical novel, recently republished, with a sufficient dose of the fun factor to make it a pleasure for me Unamuno was a leftist novelist, playwright, and essayist who served as a professor of Greek and Classics at the University of Salamanca Written in 1907 and published in 1914, “Niebla” (translated as mist or fog) purports through one of its characters to represent a new form of fiction, called the “nivola”, which is concernedwith the personification of ideas than realism It plays on protoexistentialist concepts such as the absurdity of the illusion of free will, the Shakespearean sense of our life as being like actors on a stage, andancient notions of our existence being but a dream by our God The special and delightful twist comes when our main character, Augusto, recognizes Unamumo himself as the godauthor responsible for his torments in seeking love Thus, we get a foretaste of the overthetop shenanigans I recently read in Pirandello’s play “Six Characters in Search of an Author” (published the same year as Ulysses, 1922), which in turn presages the “Theater of the Absurd”, which Beckett initiated in the 50s, as well as the intersections of characters, readers, and authors seen in Calvino’s “If on a winter’s night a traveler” (1979) Recognizing this book as innovative does not prove it to be a fun read for contemporary readers Let me paint the scenario a bit to help you see if it could be your cup of tea We meet Augusto who is an aimless aristocrat Strike one against our loving him But he begins to charm us with his innocence and naivete and can readily appreciate his impetus to seek love to fill some of the emptiness he feels in life A random encounter and glance with a woman on the street, Eugenia, leads him to follow her and then to dig information about her from the concierge at her residence Strike two against him for stalking But as he convinces himself he is in love with her and persuades her guardian aunt and uncle (a “theoretical anarchist”) of the virtues of his intentions, we begin to root for him much as we would for the fantasies of Don Quixote over Dulcinea A windmill he must tilt at is that Eugenia is already engaged to marry Maybe he is deluded, but his eloquence can be fetching:Thanks to love, I can feel my soul in a palpable way, I can touch it The very core of my soul aches, thanks to love And what is the soul if not love, if not the incarnation of pain?…Days come and go and love remains Deep within, in the innermost depths, this world’s current rubs and grates against the other world’s current, and from this rubbing and grating comes the saddest and sweetest heartache of all, the heartache of living.As Augusto recognizes that only virtue can win the day for him, he bides his time while demonstrating selfless generosities to Eugenia Meanwhile, the love awakened in his heart opens him to the susceptibility of falling in love with other women he encounters The laundry girl, Rosario, catches his eye, and soon the dance of affection ensues between them In his egocentric state of loving two women, Augusto seeks out advice from his writer friend Victor, framed as a quest to understand “feminine psychology.” He fills Augusto’s head with the notion from some 17th century doctor that women share a communal soul, that love is all in his head (“how do you know you are really in love and not just that you think you are?”), and that he should commit himself to the experiment of marrying either one immediately To Augusto’s objection about the permanence of marriage, Victor is dismissive: Anybody who wants to run an experiment with a way out, without burning bridges, will never attain any real knowledge.I found myself engaged in a hit at the plate beating a strikethree count What would be Augusto’s just fate? Just as he is about to take his fate into his own hands, we get the absurdity of him taking his case to the author But the reader gets the last laugh Victor has set up the idea of the reader’s power in this earlier dialogue with Augusto:“All right, but what am I going to do right now?”“Do…do…do! You’re already feeling like a character in a play or novel …Aren’t we doing something when we talk like this? …As if talk were not action In the beginning was the Word, and through the Word everything was created.”…” The soul of a character in a play or a novel, or a nivola, is given to him by …”“By his author.”“No, by the reader.”A charming dessert at the end is an internal soliloquy by Augusto’s dog, Orfeo, who has had to put up with his master’s endless blather for so long As a sliver of a sample of this perfect end to the tale, Orfeo concludes: Man is such a strange animal …There is no way of knowing what he wants—if he himself even knows …Language enables him to lie, to invent what doesn’t exist and get confused …Man is a sick animal, no doubt about it.This book was provided by the publisher for review through the Netgalley program. I had such a positive experience with my first Spanish review that I'm attempting another one Once again, if anyone notices any errors, don't hesitate to tell me! I'm still a big guiri (The translation is in the spoiler below.) La palabra, este producto social, se ha hecho para mentir Recuerdo cuando visité la Universidad de Salamanca Es una de las universidades más viejas en Europa que todavía está abierta La fachada del edificio de las escuelas mayores es un ejemplo glorioso del estilo plateresco Dentro hay mapas históricos, una biblioteca maravillosa, y varias salas de lectura Una de estas salas está dedicada a Miguel de Unamuno, profesor, filósofo, y escritor Durante el régimen de Franco, no podrías encontrar el nombre de Unamuno allí, porque él estuvo en contra del dictador Pero ahora tiene la dedicación del que se merece.Niebla es uno de sus libros más famosos Es un ejemplo temprano de la novela modernista Pero es muy diferente de otros ejemplos que conozco Su lenguaje es muy simple y directo La mayoría del libro es diálogo, por consiguiente la experiencia de leerla es como la experiencia de leer una obra de teatro El resto es un monólogo interior de la protagonista La idea es permitir que los personajes se escriban Se escriben por conversación, y con frecuencia esta conversación es desorganizada e inconsecuente.El argumento es un poco de un telenovela, con un montón de dramatismo tonto Pero también hay preguntas filosóficas sobre la relación entre ficción y realidad, en concreto la relación entre un autor y sus personajes Esta cuestión también está en la obra más famosa de literatura española: Don Quijote Sin duda, esto es intencional Cervantes tiene una presencia grande en estas paginas; él era obviamente un héroe de Unamuno Y en mi opinión, Niebla es un sucesor digno de la obra maestra de Cervantes; es graciosa, inteligente, y original Los personajes son memorable, y el fin es estupendo Ahora tengo ganas a leer una obra filosófica de Unamuno, específicamente su libro Del sentimiento trágico de la vida (view spoiler)[I remember when I visited the University of Salamanca It is one of the oldest universities in Europe that’s still open The façade of the Escuela Mayores building is a glorious example of the plateresque style Inside are historical maps, a marvellous library, and various lecture rooms One of these rooms is dedicated to Miguel de Unamuno, professor, philosopher, and writer During Franco’s reign, you couldn’t find Unamuno’s name there, because he was opposed to the dictator But now he has the dedication he deserves.Niebla is one of his most famous books It is an early example of the modernist novel But it is very different from other examples I know His language is very simple and straightforward The majority of the book is dialogue, and consequently the experience of reading it is like the experience of reading a play The rest is an interior monologue of the protagonist The idea is to allow the characters to write themselves They write themselves through conversation, and frequently the conversation is disorganized and inconsequential.The plot is a bit like a soap opera, with a lot of silly drama But there are also philosophical questions about the relationship between fiction and reality,precisely the relationship between the author and his characters This question is also addressed in the most famous work of Spanish literature: Don Quixote Without doubt, this is intentional Cervantes has a big presence in these pages; he was obviously a hero of Unamuno And in my opinion Niebla is a worth succesor to Cervantes’s masterpiece; it is funny, intelligent, and original The characters are memorable, and the ending is terrific Now I’m excited to read a philosophical work by Unamuno, specifically his Tragic Sense of Life (hide spoiler)] While Unamunos influence on the Spanish modernist literature is evident, I failed to pay him the respect he may have deserved.Some of the identity games that may have been new and interesting thoughts to the then Spanish audience are today utterly uninteresting Did my duty, had a few smiles along the road but easily forgot the characters and the idea. In his introduction to this English edition of Miguel de Unamuno’s Niebla (“Mist” or, as in Elena Barcia’s new translation – “Fog”), Alberto Manguel makes a bold claim for the novel Critics, he tells us, have almost unanimously placed it amongst the great Modernist texts, next to Virginia Woolf’s The Waves and Pirandello’s This was a very slow, difficult and tedious read that surged in quality at the end after the author inserted himself into the story Though there are some interesting metaphysical discussions, almost nothing happens for the first 3/4 of the novel; all we have is a bored playboy pining for one or two different women and talking to people (mostly himself) about it (Caveat: I read this book in Spanish and while I'm fluent and understood over 95% of the book, the energy needed to understand a nonnative language surely factored into my feeling of tediousness I have little doubt that I would have enjoyed itin English.)I believe I understand what Unamuno was trying to do to the format by creating a nivola instead of a novela (Span.) His surrogate character explains, What we have is dialogue; above all, dialogue The thing is that the characters talk, they talk a lot, although they say nothing because people like conversation in itself, even though nothing is said Toward the end, when the anguished Augusto asks What am I going to do now? Victor responds (my translation):Do, do, do! Bah, you're acting like a character in a drama or novel! Let's content ourselves with being those of a nivola! Do do do! Does it seem to you that we're not doing enough by talking like this? It's the mania of action, or in other words, of pantomime They say that many things occur in a drama when the actors can make many gestures and take giant steps and fake duels and jump and Pantomime! Pantomime! Other times it's said, 'They talk too much!' As if talking weren't doing In the beginning was the Word and by the Word everything was made.This passage and those around it are excellent descriptions of what you're in for if you pick up this book I like this concept and I agree that conversation and discourse have been devalued (even so almost 100 years after this book was published) However, that doesn't automatically make the embodiment of these ideas into a compelling reading experience, and this one struggles on that level To be sure there are also cultural and linguistic differences at play here Hispanic language and culture value the circuitous in speaking and writing, which can be a difficult and frustrating adjustment for us Anglos.Probably the most famous part of the book is when Unamuno himself comes in and really spices things up He is able to discuss directly with his protagonist the nature and value of existence, fictional and otherwise Augusto raises an excellent point that he, in fact, isreal than Unamuno since he will last longer as a fictional entity than Unamuno will in history I love these ideas, although again, reading them in a novel is not very engaging Ultimately, however, I am very happy to have experienced the book and recommend other students of literature whether professional or amateur do the same Abel Sanchez and Other Stories, which I read just before this, was bothentertaining and less thoughtprovoking (although it's amusing to go back and see that my principle critique of Abel was that it was too talky) Still, the most impressive aspect of Unamuno remains the quote that first brought his name to my attention, when in 1936 he replied to a fascist speech by General MillánAstray at the university where he would later have to resign This is what he said:You are waiting for my words You know me well, and know I cannot remain silent for long Sometimes, to remain silent is to lie, since silence can be interpreted as assent But now I have heard this insensible and necrophilous oath, ¡Viva la Muerte!, and I, having spent my life writing paradoxes that have provoked the ire of those who do not understand what I have written, and being an expert in this matter, find this ridiculous paradox repellent General MillánAstray is a cripple There is no need for us to say this with whispered tones He is a war cripple So was Cervantes But unfortunately, Spain today has too many cripples And, if God does not help us, soon it will have very manyIt torments me to think that General MillánAstray could dictate the norms of the psychology of the masses A cripple, who lacks the spiritual greatness of Cervantes, hopes to find relief by adding to the number of cripples around him [MillánAstray responded, ¡Muera la inteligencia! ¡Viva la Muerte! (Death to intelligence! Long live death!), provoking applause from the Falangists.][Unamuno continued] This is the temple of intelligence, and I am its high priest You are profaning its sacred domain You will win, because you have enough brute force But you will not convince In order to convince it is necessary to persuade, and to persuade you will need something that you lack: reason and right in the struggle I see it is useless to ask you to think of Spain I have spoken.He was escorted to safety by Franco's wife, and then removed from his post at the University of Salamanca He died 10 weeks later.Thus anything I read by Unamuno will be colored by my knowledge that the man was a bonafide hero.Not Bad Reviews@pointblaek 1914 Politically unsettling times at the onset of The Great War Fragmentation in the world and a tendency to see through a glass darkly perhaps was the inspiration for Fog written by Miguel de Unamuno.Augusto, a pampered, wealthy intellectual, still reeling two years after his mother's death, was bored with life Bored, until the day he spotted a girl with beautiful eyes He followed her home and gleaned the necessary information She was single, orphaned, and lived with her aunt and uncle Left almost destitute by her father after a stock market crash, she gave piano lessons to pay off the heavily mortgaged house she had inherited Up until now, Augusto existed in a fog He now had wild dreams about the undying love of his own creation.Augusto, introverted and unsure of himself, confers with friend Victor Victor tells him that Eugenia's presence has awakened Augusto's senses to women collectively Feelings for a singular woman will help him to consider branching out and experiencing life and love Augusto's over the top fascination with Eugenia is problematic since Eugenia has a fiance, Mauricio Despite Mauricio's presence, Augusto is selfless He pays off Eugenia's mortgage and eliminates her debts.While Eugenia's aunt calls Augusto her favorite suitor, strong willed Eugenia is determined to marry lazy, unemployed Mauricio, a bum who detests the idea of work She feels that Augusto is trying to buy her.The fog that is life envelopes Augusto He converses with his dog Orfeo, who listens to his soliloquies and thoughts on love Augusto wants to end his own life He visits author Unamuno, his creator Unamuno informs him that he is just a character in a novel and only an author can make life or death decisions for the characters.Fog by Miguel de Unamuno is a tragiccomedy with existential themes It is very creative and thought provoking A most enjoyable tome.Thank you Northwestern University Press and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review Fog. ^FREE PDF ↞ Niebla ↠ En este añose cumple un siglo de la primera edición de Niebla, una de las grandes novelas de nuestra literatura Si bien llevaba escrita siete años, no se publicó hasta , por el tiempo en que Unamuno era cesado como rector de Salamanca por liberal La vida de don Miguel fue, como el lector sabe, aciaga y controvertida, y su independencia intelectual le hizo pagar un alto precio en repetidas ocasiones y acabaría llevándolo a la tumbaA Augusto Pérez, un hombre bueno y simple, pero filósofo y mujeriego –o mejor dicho, admirador del bello sexo– fueron su entusiasmo y la voluntad del propio Unamuno, su creador, los que le llevaron a la tumba Que esto sea una nivola o una novela tanto da, como explica Pollux Hernúñez en su extroducción En cualquier caso se trata de una edición revisada, anotada apenas, ilustrada y hecha con el cuidado que la centenaria celebración merece