Unamuno and Borges : a comparison of their views on language, literature and national identity
The main objectives of this thesis are, on the one hand, the examination of the thought of the Spanish writer Miguel de Unamuno regarding Argentinian history, language, and literature. On the other hand, it deals with the possible influence Unamuno might have exercised on the early works of the Argentinian writer, Jorge Luis Borges. Doing so, I cover areas which have not been researched thoroughly. A secondary objective is also covered: the literary output of Borges from 1920 to the early 1930s, often neglected by literary criticism. The thesis is divided into three parts. The first part contextualizes the time and place in which the two writers lived. A brief examination of the sociopolitical situation in Argentina and Spain is carried out as well as a brief look at the cultural state of the two countries. Unamuno's attitude towards his own country is set in relation to his ideas about Argentina. I show how Unamuno related the decadence of Spain to the development of Argentina, and how the latter was, for him, the Spain that could have been but was not, the Spain of the future. The second part details the areas in which Unamuno perceived this identification between the two countries. The historical development of Argentina and Spain is examined according to Unamuno's views. Argentinian Spanish is compared to Castilian Spanish. Finally, I deal with Unamuno's views about Argentinian literature, emphasizing his opinions about gauchesque works, avant-garde movements, and key literary figures like Sarmiento and Hernández. The third part deals with Borges' ideas about Argentinian history, language, and literature. On the one hand, Borges' ideas are examined on their own; on the other, they are set in relation to Unamuno's opinions. In some cases, the influence of the Spaniard in the Argentinian is noticeable. In other cases, however, the disagreement is obvious.