Feb 032013
 
unamuno

MIGUEL DE UNAMUNO Y JUGO (1864-1936)

Spain’s most eminent poet, philosopher, novelist and essayist of modern times, Don MIGUEL DE UNAMUNO Y JUGO, Professor of Greek at Salamanca University, became its rector in 1901, but was removed in 1914 for political reasons (in the 1920s the dictator Primo de Rivera exiled him to the Canary Islands). Re-elected in 1931 with the advent of the Republic he was  made rector for life in 1934, and in 1936 he entered the Cortes as an independent republican.

Astray1

General Millán Astray (1879-1954)

The oldest of the “generation of 98” (the new wave in literature and politics that emerged in the aftermath of the Cuban War) he described himself as a “sower of doubt and an agitator of consciences”. Disillusioned with the republic, the military coup of July 1936 found him in Salamanca, the heart of nationalist territory. Initially, a supporter of the military revolt, believing it to be an attempt to “restore order”, within three months he had come to realise the true nature of Franco’s New Order. As an admirer of some of the young Falangists, he had contributed money to the rising, but by 12 October his view had changed. He had become, as he said later, ‘terrified by the character that this civil war was taking, really horrible, due to a collective mental illness, an epidemic of madness, with a pathological substratum’.

When the great National Festival of 12 October was celebrated in Salamanca University  — within a hundred yards of Franco’s headquarters (recently established in the bishop’s palace in Salamanca, on the prelate’s invitation) — it was supposed he was another captive intellectual . . .

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Nov 032012
 

Agustín García Calvo (Zamora, Spain, Oct. 15, 1926 — Zamora, Spain, 1 Nov. 2012)

Agustín García Calvo, Paris, Belleville, 2002 (portrait by Ariane Gransac)

Philologist, philosopher, writer, lifelong rebel, revolutionary and comrade, Agustín García Calvo was expelled by the Francoist authorities from his chair of Classical Languages at Madrid University for his support of the nascent student anti-Francoist movement in 1964-1965. In 1967 he was, perhaps, the leading light in the formation of the ‘Acratas’, an important Spanish anarchist student grouping that was part of the Europe-wide radical and revolutionary movement of the time. Nor did Garcia Calvo confine himself to the role of thinker, speaker and writer — he was also an activist prepared to put himself on the line. In the early 1970s he was an important liaison between the ‘Angry Brigade’, the ‘First of May Group’ (Grupo Primero de Mayo) and other European anti-Francoist/anti-capitalist action groups operating at the time and in this role was investigated as a ‘revolutionary facilitator’ by both the Metropolitan Police Special Branch (as it then was) and the French Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire (DST). In 1971 our imprint ‘Simian’ published his reflections and speculations on the nature of the 1960s/’70s’ student revolt under the title ‘On How The Student Movement Is Re-Absorbed’ (original title ‘De los modos de integración del pronunciamento estudantil’).  (A fuller appreciation by Octavio Alberola follows)

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