Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies (PhD)

Degree Level



Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies


Rachel TenHaaf

Committee Member

Luís Fernando Restrepo

Second Committee Member

Érika Almenara


Filosofía, Literatura, Nietzsche, Unamuno


The first two chapters of the thesis contain a detailed study about the appropriations of two 19th century philosophical concepts that Miguel de Unamuno took from Nietzsche. The first chapter covers the idea of expulsion interna that the Basque philosopher attributes to Nietzsche and how that indication is systematized in a literary theory about writing that eventually will end up altering both of Unamuno’s essays and novels during this period. The second chapter also starts in the final years of the 19th century but is focused entirely on the dynamic concept of the “sobre-hombre” that Unamuno has used since 1896. The multiple interpretative mutations that this famous Nietzschean concept goes through, in the hands of Unamuno (from utopic to pugnacious) and how they alter Unamuno’s writing, are explored in this chapter.

After this epoch (that started in 1896 and ended in 1916) we initiate the third chapter, that concentrates in the poetic revalorization of Nietzsche in 1919. The reader will also observe a change in Unamuno’s view of Nietzsche, who is no longer assumed to be a war criminal but as celebrated poet. This significant change in the interpretation of Nietzsche opened the door for the poetic reformulations of 1923 that concerned “el eterno retorno”. This was a crucial philosophical notion of Nietzsche that had been previously discarded by Unamuno in his major philosophical work El sentimiento tragico de la vida in 1912.

The fourth chapter is dedicated to study Unamuno’s second and final philosophical book La agonía del cristianismo (1924) in which Nietzsche is heavily quoted. The study of this philosophical and theological approach will lead us first to the last formulations of the “sobre-hombre”, but will end in the study of a piercing psychological observation, that Unamuno took from Nietzsche, in which the sick finds more pleasure in their illness than the possibility of a cure. This is a revealing truth about the human condition that Unamuno will later use to identify and diagnose the symptoms of Europe’s future catastrophes.

The final chapter investigates the pastoral logic in the later stages of Unamuno’s writing. Starting with the novel San Manuel bueno, mártir (1931) in which the protagonist is compared with Nietzsche’s ascetic priest. Following this literary and philosophical precedent established between Unamuno’s atheist priest and Nietzsche’s religious leader, the chapter will continue to explore the life of Moisés Sánchez Barrado, Unamuno’s intimate friend that was a priest but became an atheist after reading Nietzsche. Aside from investigating this Nietzschean priest and his particular relationship with the creation of the character Manuel Bueno, the chapter concludes with the final interpretation of Unamuno about Nietzsche in which the philosopher from Bilbao unifies his biblical conclusions with one of the German’s most polemical concepts: “la moral de esclavos”.