Monday, June 20, 2011

"Saint Manuel Bueno, Martyr." Miguel de Unamuno.

Summary: The saintly man is saintly in spirit, but not in the formal religious sense. He does not believe that religion has the answers to life’s problems. He believes that life is an illusion of striving for happiness and that life after death does not exist. He urges his flock to believe in life’s existence because it makes them happy. That is what he strives for, to make life an illusion of happiness. He says to his confidantes that even Christ did not believe in life or life after death. What is sin? Being born. It is necessary to accept the illusion that life is happy. Because life is all we have. Life is literally a novel. Life is literally a dream.

Comment: This is a short story with many quotable quotes. The priest who has lost his faith, The story is told in the words of a young girl who worships the priest, who is not disillusioned by the revelation of his loss of faith when she is older, and who works to continue beyond his death to create the illusion that the purpose of life is to be happy, contented. The priest is a martyr to the Catholic religion because he does not believe in it, but does work to make it the answer to his flock’s prayers.

Brian Moore, a Canadian, wrote a novel called The Belief of Catholics. It has a somewhat similar plot. A group of monks lives on a desolate island, but the monks have become famous for breaking with the new belief of Catholics, by saying the old Latin mass when all other Catholics are saying it in their native languages. The Latin mass has become a form of heresy and a priest from Rome has come to put an end to it. The father rector, who oversees the activities of the monks, like Manuel Bueno, has also lost his faith. He can no longer pray, but he lives to keep the monks organized and busy. “It’s a hard life, but it’s my life.” In short, he lives to be a successful administrator, not a religious believer. RayS.

Spanish Stories and Tales. Ed. By Harriet de OnĂ­s. The Pocket Library, 1956. Pp. 49-84.

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