Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name



Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

First Advisor

Franciso J. Higuero


This doctoral dissertation, entitled Theological Existentialism in San Manuel Bueno, mártir consults a common classic canon, San Manuel Bueno, mártir by Miguel de Unamuno (Bilbao, 1864-Salamanca, 1936). The story is set in a remote rural rustic village of Valverde de Lucerna in the bucolic Diocese of Renada which lies by a symbolic lake and snow-capped cloudy mountain resembling, said, San Manuel, noting in a quote that, "He was tall, slender, and erect; he carried himself the way our Vulture Peak carries its crest, and his eyes had all the blue depth of our lake". Carrying sacred and secular connotations it is an image that portrays, simultaneously, an alluring allegorical and archetypal form of Gestalt imagery mixing El Greco spiritually pious mysticism with a Salvador Dalí surreal persistent memory of a vivid dream of perplexing proportion, in essence, a portrait of the existence of Martyr Good Saint Emmanuel. The argumentation is initially invoked by Ángela Carballino. The plot develops in a manual with her personal confession of theological bliss and San Manuel's personal confession of existential blight. Pleasing in nature, yet puzzling in its context of an implied internal inquisition, the then conferring Bishop is in an external mission of beatifying San Manuel whose story curiously ends up with Unamuno and in the hearts of his readers. The thesis is that San Manuel with a little luck and lots of charm parlays a calamity of beliefs into a personal confession that is fundamental to revealing true faith. The author revokes Realism in inert 19th c. novels of third person omniscient narration, drab mundane detailed settings and long character depictions, faithful to reality and instead plants a question of Modern theological existentialism in San Manuel Bueno, máritr, in an invigorating 20c. "nivola" of a first person homodiegetic narration that convokes a seemingly mystical mnemonic sanctuary surrounding character complexities faithful to many new views of reality. Ángela and her brother, Lázaro turn a simple story into a spiritual and social intrigue of soulful significance. The summary and analysis objective is to present the important role of reader response in the story's outcome.