Literary movements definition/Influential Literary movements

Literary movements or currents

The literary movements are movements in the specific field of literature that share characteristics, either way (style), background (thematic) and that coexist in a given period of history. Literary movements definition

These literary currents or movements arise in response to the political, economic and social reality of the time in which they take place and, for the most part, coincide with similar styles and currents in other branches of art, communing with the prevailing ideologies and philosophical thoughts of that period. 

Many of these movements, especially those that have appeared in recent centuries, have been superimposed on the line of space-time, coexisting with greater or lesser relevance.

The names given and the duration of their influence, have been determined a posteriori by scholars of the subject, or have been self-named by their original promoters.

Main literary currents in History Literary movements definition

– Classicism

The period from the 5th century BC to the 5th century AD is known as literary classicism , the root of all world literature. It is characterized mainly by seeking the balance between the background and the form. Within the Classic Period, Greek and Latin literature stand out .

Greek literature

Literature is believed to have been born in Ancient Greece approximately 1000 BC. C., but the best known pieces date from the V century BC onwards, culminating approximately in the V century of our era. Literary movements definition

It was based on telling real events that narrators once lived, as well as stories about the gods. They stand out in this period Homer with the epic stories of “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey”, Sophocles with the drama of “Electra”, Virgilio with “The Aeneid” and Gilgamesh in the poetry.

The Aeneid – Virgil

It is a work typical of classicism. It was written by order of Augustus to glorify the Roman Empire and to speak of its origin in the descendants of Aeneas, who was a survivor of the Trojan War.

The work has very particular characteristics, style and perfect verse , and was considered a model to be followed by later writers.

Roman or Latin Literature

The Roman literature began in century III a. of C. and finished in the IV century of our era. The Romans absorbed all the literary knowledge of the Greeks and spread it throughout the vast Roman Empire.

Cicero’s rhetoric stood out and became a model for oratory throughout Europe; Lucretius in the lyrical genre and Plautus in the drama.

Outstanding works of Roman literature:

  • Translations of the Odyssey – Livio Andrónico
  • Tragedies Inspired by Euripides – Ennio
  •  Laelius or De amicitia – Cecilio Estacio

– Medieval

From the second half of the fifth century to the end of the fourteenth century, the world was characterized by a long and slow period plagued by internal wars, disputes to conquer territories and the famous Christian crusades.

The arts in general, and literature in particular, suffered and suffered their share of obscurantism; the works were limited to religious and profane themes (such as courtly love), in contrast.

An outstanding work of medieval literature is:

The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer

It is a collection of stories told by pilgrims. Chaucer, in his stories, clearly represented the panorama of the society of his time creating a vision of medieval literature with much criticism and humor.

In them he collects such human themes as lust, forgiveness, love and revenge, which makes them permanently topical.

– Humanism

It was not until the end of the 14th century that an intellectual movement began to emerge that broke with scholasticism and promoted the study of classical literature and science, seeking to give life a more rational meaning.

Authors such as Juan Ruiz stood out with “The Book of Good Love” and great anonymous pieces such as “El Mío Cid” and “El Cantar de los Nibelungos”.

Good Love Book – Juan Ruiz

It is the most important work of the 14th century representative of Humanism. It is essentially a record of the loving arts, which aims to avoid crazy loves based on passions and in exchange to arouse good love that respects morals.

Through irony, Juan Ruíz compensates for subtlety and shamelessness in a text full of humor and teachings.

– Renaissance

The Renaissance literature originated in the city of Florence in Italy, and ran from the fifteenth century and the end of the seventeenth century or so .

Faced with the lethargy of almost ten centuries, this was a true explosion characterized by the rise of the arts and the importance of man as a central theme.

Dante Alighieri stood out with “La Divina Comedia”, Garcilaso de la Vega with his “Églogas” and Bocaccio with “El Decamerón”.

The Decameron – Giovanni Boccaccio

Due to its theme, it is considered the first Renaissance work. It relates human aspects that reflect the society of the time.

There are a hundred stories told by ten young people of the Florentine upper class. Although El Decamerón has something of a religious theme, it mainly shows the man as a victim of his own actions.

– Baroque

In the seventeenth century the world was in an economic and social crisis, whose negative and pessimistic vision was reflected in the arts. Literary movements definition

The literature of this period stood out throughout Europe but mainly in Spain, which wrote about religion and the pursuit of dreams.

At this time, Baltasar Graciano, Luis de Góngora and Francisco de Rojas stood out, as well as Francisco de Quevedo, author of “Powerful Knight is Don Dinero” and Lope de Vega with his famous “Fuenteovejuna”.

Ovejuna Fountain – Lope de Vega

It is a baroque play that narrates the revelation of the Cordovan town of Fuente Ovejuna against the injustice suffered by the abuse of power by Commander Fernán Gómez de Guzmán, who behaves like a tyrant who does not respect the laws.

– Mannerism

Baroque and Mannerism shared the historical path, using similar literary elements and resources. It antagonizes the sensual and spiritualist style of a time characterized by skepticism and concerned with pleasure and beauty.

Within the Mannerism authors of the stature of William Shakespeare, author of “Hamlet”, or Miguel de Cervantes with his immortal “Don Quixote de La Mancha” could be located.

Hamlet – William Shakespeare

In Hamlet the typical mannerist resource of using reflected metaphors overloaded and unnatural. It narrates “The drama of power and inheritance.”

Throughout the text the details of a work that has a very own style, with numerous dramatic effects, are clearly noticeable. In Hamlet many problems of political and moral root are shuffled, within a tragedy.

– Neoclassicism

The literary neoclassicism begins in the eighteenth century and represents a throwback to rescue the Greek and Roman classical values and thus find balance and serenity.

It is the so-called “Age of Enlightenment” , in which Voltaire with “Edipo”, Juan Meléndez Valdez with “Las Enamoradas Anacreónticas” and Leandro Fernández de Moratín with “El Sí de las Chicas”, were important exponents.

Oedipus – Voltaire 

Oedipus is a play composed by the French philosopher and writer Voltaire. In it the Greek myth of Oedipus is related, without any significant element being added to it. With this he seeks to evoke the Greek literary simplicity.

– Romanticism

It originated in Germany in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and was characterized by the abandonment of the frivolous and purist thoughts of the previous period, to give way to feelings , imagination and creativity as the axis of literature . Literary movements definition

It developed profusely in Germany, France and England, standing out Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe as a poet, playwright and novelist, as well as José de Espronceda with “Canción del Pirata”, Jorge Isaacs with “María” and José Zorrilla with the famous “Don Juan Tenorio ”.

– Realism

It began in France in the second half of the 19th century and spread throughout the European continent. Its  main characteristic was the dispossession of the sentimentality of the current that preceded it.

This was achieved by making a literature based on the observation and objective description of social reality and daily life. It was the response to the social situation of the time, characterized by the consolidation of the bourgeoisie and industrialization.

Stendhal with works such as “Rojo y Negro”, Honore de Balzac, Alejandro Dumas – “The Lady of the Camellias” -, León Tolstoi, Anton Chekhov, Gustave Flaubert – “Madame Bovary” -, Benito Pérez Galdós and Fedor Dostoevski, with his most emblematic work “Crime and Punishment”, were its main exponents.

Red and black – Stendhal

This novel is inspired by a real event. In it, a young seminarian named Franche-Comté enters the house of Monsieru Rênal as a tutor, a place where he knows love and other angles of life, including crime.

– Impressionism

He was born in France in the second half of the 19th century as a reaction to realism. He intended to generate literary pieces stripped of intellectuality and reflection, giving greater importance to the author’s first “impression” on the object or subject to be written. The Goncourt brothers were his forerunners.

Story of Marie Antoinette – Edmong and Jules de Goncourt

This novel talks about who was the Archduchess of Austria and Queen of France, Marie Antoinette. It seeks to accurately approximate the history of the last monarch to inhabit the Palace of Versailles, before the French Revolution broke out. Literary movements definition

– Naturalism

Towards the end of the 19th century, realism gave way to naturalism , where realism redoubled its bet, highlighting the ugly, the unpleasant and the most negative and bleak side of reality.

Naturalism tried to explain human behavior by observing and describing the social environment.

Émile Zola is considered the father of naturalism, but Blasco Ibáñez and Emilia Pardo Bazán also stood out.

Thérèse Raquin – Émile Zola

One of the most influential works of naturalism is Thérèse Raquin , a literary novel written by Émile Zola, which recounts how Thérèse’s monotonous life takes a turn as she begins a passionate affair with Laurent, her husband’s closest friend, Camille.

– Modernism

The literary modernism emerged at the end of the nineteenth century and had its decline at the beginning of the twentieth century. It was the only literary trend that originated in America and then spread throughout Europe and not the other way around, as used to be the case.

It was characterized by its manifest repulsion towards everything everyday and by the search for beauty and perfection of forms.

Modernism disdained everything previously established by realism. Representative writers of modernism were Rubén Darío – “Azul” -, Amado Nervo, José Martí and Ramón del Valle Inclán, poet, writer and playwright.

Blue – Rubén Darío

Azul is the most significant work of the Nicaraguan Rubén Darío as a pioneer of modernism. In it a compilation of stories and poems by the author is made.

It is considered a lyrical volume where luxurious environments, refined gallants, fantasies, personal obsessions, and French culture are portrayed. He uses an expressive and exotic vocabulary.

– Vanguardism

The avant – garde literature emerged in the twentieth century, specifically between I and World War II, as an attempt to transform literature denying the past and giving priority originality, even above reality.

It obeys the historical moment that was going through, the awakening of a new consciousness was necessary after the spiritual crisis experienced.

Avant-garde exalts surprise, uses extra-literary resources and explores the irrational. André Breton, Gabriel García Márquez – “One Hundred Years of Solitude” -. Carlos Fuentes, Rafael Cadenas, César Vallejo, Pablo Neruda and Héctor Mendoza were some of the most prominent representatives in this trend.

The avant-garde brought together all the currents that arose around World War I, such as Dadaism, Cubism and Surrealism, among others. Literary movements definition

One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez

The book One Hundred Years of Soledad , by Gabriel García Márquez talks about a fictional village on the Colombian coast, called Macondo.

The founding family of the village lives there: the Buendía. The novel tells in 20 chapters the stories of this lineage and the magical reality events that take place around each of the characters

– Surrealism

The literary surrealism emerged in 1916 by André Breton. It was characterized by stripping literary creation of all aesthetic reason or precept, which resulted in a purely pure work, without any type of rational or moral control.

Surrealism Manifesto – Andrés Bretón

This book by Andrés Bretón was the one with which Surrealism was founded in 1920. Its content had a strong impact on contemporary art and any aesthetic manifestation.

– Dadaism

This current emerged at the beginning of the 20th century as a mockery and criticism of the bourgeoisie and the established order; for this he uses incomprehensible and absurd resources. Hugo Ball and Tristán Tzara were its most representative authors.

The Flight of Time – Hugo Ball

This book is a profound manifestation of the Dada movement, exposed by the German Hugo Ball. It reflects on and substantially reflects the new avant-garde movement that appeared in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. Literary movements definition

– Futurism

Also from the early twentieth century, he was born in Italy and tried to break with all the past, introducing movement and fluidity as preponderant elements. Filippo Tomasso was its great exponent.

Mafarka – Filippo Tommaso Literary movements definition

This book is based on one of the Futurist manifestos previously written by Filippo Tommaso. It is a novel written as a historical story, where the time during which it runs, nor the space where it takes place, is not clearly known.

You may be interested  The 8 Most Important Futurism Characteristics .

– Expressionism

The literary expressionism was born in Germany in 1918 by Georg Trakl. It was characterized by a very personal and subjective view of reality, giving greater importance to feelings and perception than to objective description.

Poems – Georg Trakl

It is a book in which Trakl talks about Trakl telling what happened to him or what happens to him, meeting himself several times. It is a compilation of Trakl’s work, framed in some of his best poems.

– Post Avant-garde

It arises after World War II, influenced by Marxist thought. He rejects all idealism and seeks by all means to return to pure and raw reality, preserving the freedom of avant-garde composition, but with a more formal structure.

From a deep interiority of the writer, the folkloric, social and political poetry arises. Ernesto Cardenal and Nicanor Parra are faithful exponents of this trend.

Artifacts – Nicanor Parra

Artefactos is a book of poems written on postcards. The content of each postcard is expressed as a slogan, joke, graffiti or image. It is a book that can be read in no order.

– Post Modernism

It was born in the postwar era, in the second half of the 20th century. In fact, under this term all the currents that emerged in those decades and that had as a common point the break with modernism and realism were grouped.

Its aim was the renunciation of optimism and reason, and the denial of objective reality, for which it used fragmented structures, circular arguments and unsightly and even unethical elements.

Watch and Punish – Michel Foucault Literary movements definition

It is a book that makes a historical account of the changes in the penal and penitentiary systems in the Western world, from the Middle Ages to the Modern Era.

– Contemporary Literature

In this 21st century, the malaise of humanity due to social inequality and the harmful effects of modernity and progress becomes evident. Literature these days is deeply social, raises questions and seeks experimentation. Literary movements definition

It is the current literature, it is still in full development. In the future some scholar will name it.

Featured books of contemporary literature:

  • Austerlitz – Winfried Georg Maximilian Sebald
  • Intimate accidents – Justo Navarro
  • Elementary Particles – Michel Houellebecq 

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