Unamuno: Aunt Tula

Aunt Tula (La tia Tula), published in 1921, is one of the few novels written by Miguel de Unamuno to centre on a female protagonist. It is a vivid, nuanced portrait of the intelligent, wilful and yet vulnerable Tula. Despite having no biological children of her own, the unmarried Tula becomes the primary maternal figure for successive generations of children; some related to her, others not. Her chaste maternity is presented as a complex response to her long-held, self-sacrificing romantic love for her brother-in-law, her antipathy for the submissive role expected of bourgeois married women, and Tula's fear of her own physicality. Julia Biggane's translation captures the accessibility of style and richness of literary substance in the original, and the introduction equips the reader with an understanding of the text's wider material contexts and historical significance. Of special interest is the novel's representation of womanhood and maternity, itself inflected by wider social changes in countries across Western Europe and Russia during the first two decades of the 20th century.