As the Spanish philosopher Julián Marías (1960, 296) affirms, in contrast to the psychological novel of the nineteenth century, a new type of novel arose, in intimate concordance with the march of philosophy, whose extreme and decisive example we find in Unamuno. It is what we could call the existential novel. With this appellation Marías (id. 297) defines a novel whose main theme is the character or fictional entity that imitates the human being and that, through his life, exposes the problem of his personality. Unamuno’s novel, Niebla, is precisely this type of work.
Its protagonist, Augusto Perez, lives an existential crisis in the face of his destiny and, finally, in trying to solve his personality problem, he will come to make an irremediable decision. As we shall see, this novel also has a peculiarity: many works of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries describe a whole, realistic world in which different characters move, animated by different motives in relation to their time and society. On the contrary, Miguel de Unamuno’s novel, Niebla, presents only characters and few descriptions of things, characters, or customs.
Only the story and the intimate time of the characters matter: the existential novel is concerned with the being, and with the personality of the being. This does not mean that the existential novel is not related to its time. This relationship exists, but in an indirect way. It is not a description of his time, but a reflection of the state of consciousness that animated the society, artists, and writers of Spain during the early twentieth century, characterized by its profound political, social and philosophical alterations.
Following the same trend, Niebla, proposes a journey through the consciousness of its protagonist. Through his story, Augusto Perez lives a real transformation, reflected in his conscience through a personal analysis, exposed in long monologues and animated discussions with other characters. This philosophical reflection, parallel to the concrete events that occur in the protagonist’s life, is also a particularity of the existential novel. Thus, with Niebla, we discover an innovative aspect of literature, which, later, will give birth to the existentialist current of the twentieth century in Europe.
I invite everyone to read Matias’ post with the theme of the day.
Finally, I encourage everyone to reflect on the concept of the day. No one else but us can re-signify our own being