A Pocket Popper by Karl Popper, David Miller

By Karl Popper, David Miller

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They were years of rebellion and crisis—1868, 1869, and 1870. The various upheavals suffered by the country had not yet coalesced into what would later be called the Second Civil War, fought with extreme fanaticism in the north, particularly when the Carlist siege of Bilbao began in December, 1873. By this time Unamuno, fatherless since his sixth year, was nine. The “first significant event” of his life, he often recalled, was “the explosion of a Carlist bomb” (February 21, 1874) on the roof of an adjacent house.

Unamuno’s literary labors needed new soil for their fruition; this was to be Salamanca, in the very heart of Old Castile. 3 THE CRITICAL YEARS Unamuno went then to Madrid, and spent several months taking various competitive examinations for a teaching position. After several attempts at various positions, he won a chair of Greek language and literature in Salamanca. Valera and Menéndez y Pelayo, the defenders of two opposing points of view—the “modern” and the “traditional”—were among his examiners.

Both were manifestations of one and the same attitude. At all times this “personalistic” feeling pervaded Unamuno’s political Unamuno: A Philosophy of Tragedy 27 life. When he expressed, as he was often to do, antimonarchist sentiments, it was never as an attack on the concept of monarchy and the royal prerogative as such. He attacked one monarchy and one king only, and he felt that this was proof of his predilection for concrete realities. This explains why Unamuno was always considered (and often angrily denounced) as an unstable political element: he was not a Monarchist, but this did not make of him, strictly speaking, a Republican.

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