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Philosophy Today

Volume 62, Issue 3, Summer 2018

Mariana Alessandri
Pages 899-919
DOI: 10.5840/philtoday20181130239

Interpreting Unamuno’s Quixotism as a Religion

Scholars interested in Miguel de Unamuno’s obsession with Don Quixote usually refer to his Quixotism as a philosophy or “way of life” that Unamuno eventually outgrew. Unamuno himself called Quixotism a philosophy and an ethics, but he also called it a religion. This is the most accurate characterization of Quixotism, given how it functioned in both his works and his life. Unamuno’s Quixotism incorporates many typical religious features like a god figure, followers, worship, an idea of faith, an eschatology, and a sacred text. This essay: 1) paints Quixotism as a religion and shows how it functioned throughout Unamuno’s works, and 2) argues that Quixotism was not a phase for Unamuno. Unamuno created and practiced the religion of Quixotism throughout his life, even as he was wrestling with Christianity, so that a comprehensive understanding of Unamuno’s struggle with faith must include the study of his Quixotism.