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The Generation of 1898

Updated on June 24, 2011

Spain and The Generation of 1898


            The Spanish-American War in 1898 was a disaster for Spain.  She lost Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines in the war with the United States of America.

After the war, came a group of philosophers and essayists known as The Generation of 1898.  The members of this Generation felt the lack of education was partly to blame for the loss.  They felt there was a sickness in Spain that led to the decay of their nation that had been troubling their country since the sixteenth century.  The members of the Generation of 1898 were searching for the structure of Spain in the landscape, the history, and in classic literature.

            The members of the Generation of 1898 were said to be the best producers of literature since the Golden Age of Spain.  Their personalities were different.  Each member had their own views of how things should be run.  All of them agreed that Spain needed change.

            The members of this generation felt a need to turn away from the past.  All of the members were skeptics but felt Spain needed a religion of faith that had not been around for many years.  Spain needed a better education system.

Spain was “ill” because of the losses since 16th Century.  There was a lack of intellectual curiosity.  The members wanted to find the reasons for Spain “decaying.”

The literature that came from the members was a literary movement of “isms.”  Criticism was evident in a large amount of the writings.  Realism, classicism, romanticism, and existentialism were also found in their writings.

Among the essayists and philosophers of the Generation of 1898 were Pio Baroja, Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo, Jose Ortega y Gasset, Antonio Machado, Ramiro de Maeztu, Joaquin Costa, and Ramon del Valle-Inclan.  Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo and Jose Ortega y Gasset often disagreed on many issues.  Unamuno adored Quixote, whereas, Ortega y Gasset appreciated Cervantes.

Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo was born on September 29, 1864, in Bilbao.  Unamuno was preoccupied with death because he had lost his father, two sisters, and a friend before the age of ten.  He married Concepcion Lizarraga Ecenarro and together they had ten children.

Unamuno studied at Colegio de San Nicolas and Instituto Vizacaino.  After his studies, he taught Greek at the University of Salamanca.  He was appointed as rector of the University of Salamanca in 1901.

Unamuno was mostly a thinker.  His writings showed materialism and idealism as well as criticism.  One of his greatest works is said to be The Life of Don Quixote and Sancho.  His best work is said to be The Tragic Sense of Life.

Unamuno was very opinionated.  Primo de Rivera exiled him in 1924.  After a lot of public outcry, Unamuno was allowed to return to Spain.  Under the rule of Franco, Unamuno was sentenced to house arrest because of his criticism.  He died December 31, 1936, in Salamanca.

Jose Ortega y Gasset was born on May 9, 1883, in Madrid, Spain.  His father was also a writer by the name of Jose Ortega y Munilla.  Ortega married Rosa Spottorno and had three children with her.

Ortega studied at San Estanislao Miraflores del Palo in Malaga, University of Deusto, Bilbao, and the University of Madrid.  He was also sent to Germany to study for many years.  Because of his studies in Germany, he felt Spain should be more “Europeanized” like Germany.  He was a Professor of Metaphysics at the University of Madrid.  Ortega died October 18, 1955, in Madrid, Spain.

Antonio Machado was born July 26, 1875, in Seville, Spain.  He studied at Institución Libre de Enseñanza and the University of Madrid.  After his studies, he moved to Paris with his brother Manuel to translate for a French publisher.

Machado taught French in Soria where he met and married Leonor Izquierdo.  Leonor died only five years after they were married of tuberculosis.  After her death, Machado left Soria because he could not handle the memories of the place they both loved so much.

Machado’s writings showed patriotism.

Machado escaped with his elderly mother in January, 1939.  General Franco sent his forces to capture and persecute people that did not support his beliefs.

Machado died February 22, 1939, in Colliore, Paris.  His mother passed away only three days after his death.  Machado is buried in Colliore, Paris.  His wife Leonor is buried in Soria.


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