I intended at first to write a short Prologue to this English translation of my Del Sentimiento Trágico de la Vida, which has been undertaken by my friend Mr. J.E. Crawford Flitch. But upon further consideration I have abandoned the idea, for I reflected that after all I wrote this book not for Spaniards only, but for all civilized and Christian menChristian in particular, whether consciously so or notof whatever country they may be.
Furthermore, if I were to set about writing an Introduction in the light of all that we see and feel now, after the Great War, and, still more, of what we foresee and forefeel, I should be led into writing yet another book. And that is a thing to be done with deliberation and only after having better digested this terrible peace, which is nothing else but the war's painful convalescence.
As for many years my spirit has been nourished upon the very core of English literatureevidence of which the reader may discover in the following pagesthe translator, in putting my Sentimiento Trágico into English, has merely converted not a few of the thoughts and feelings therein expressed back into their original form of expression. Or retranslated them, perhaps. Whereby they emerge other than they originally were, for an idea does not pass from one language to another without change.
The fact that this English translation has been carefully revised here, in my house in this ancient city of Salamanca, by the translator and myself, implies not merely some guarantee of exactitude, but also something morenamely, a correction, in certain respects, of the original.
The truth is that, being an incorrigible Spaniard, I am naturally given to a kind of extemporization and to neglectfulness of a filed niceness in my works. For this reason my original workand likewise the Italian and French translations of itissued from the press with a certain number of errors, obscurities, and faulty references. The labour which my friend Mr. J.E. Crawford Flitch fortunately imposed upon me in making me revise his translation obliged me to correct these errors, to clarify some obscurities, and to give greater exactitude to certain quotations from foreign writers. Hence this English translation of my Sentimiento Trágico presents in some ways a more purged and correct text than that of the original Spanish. This perhaps compensates for what it may lose in the spontaneity of my Spanish thought, which at times, I believe, is scarcely translatable.
It would advantage me greatly if this translation, in opening up to me a public of English-speaking readers, should some day lead to my writing something addressed to and concerned with this public. For just as a new friend enriches our spirit, not so much by what he gives us of himself, as by what he causes us to discover in our own selves, something which, if we had never known him, would have lain in us undeveloped, so it is with a new public. Perhaps there may be regions in my own Spanish spiritmy Basque spirit, and therefore doubly Spanishunexplored by myself, some corner hitherto uncultivated, which I should have to cultivate in order to offer the flowers and fruits of it to the peoples of English speech.
And now, no more.
God give my English readers that inextinguishable thirst for truth which I desire for myself.
MIGUEL DE UNAMUNO.