Modern Literature Characteristics and Authors

Modern Literature

The literature modern covers written representations with certain specific features that have been developed since the beginning of the Contemporary Age (period beginning in 1793 with the French Revolution) until today, not literature which developed in the Modern Age ( between the 15th and 18th centuries). In this article we will provide you the characteristics of modern literature.

Someplace the beginning of modern literature in the seventeenth century, in 1616, with the death of the two greatest exponents of world literature: Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra and William Shakespeare. It is said then that the works of these authors, due to their originality, laid the foundations of this literary period.


Over the centuries, the different colonization and invasions that occurred around the Mediterranean gave way to the distribution of the works of these greats and other excellent writers who demonstrated their own style of writing, shedding previous literary manifestations.

From England and Spain, they spread, enthusing avid writers in each new port. The individual vision of the world began to have more force, generating works that have become classics of world literature, also representing a historical resource to turn to due to the descriptive richness they possess.

It follows then that modern literature responds to the aestheticism and content (to the themes, scope, and opposition with respect to the precedents) of literary works, rather than to a particular chronology. Therefore, in each part of the planet, a different beginning can be felt, in terms of the date of the production of modern literature.

According to the production context that conditioned the writers, the works turned out. The personal, economic, historical, and political situations played a crucial role in the elaboration of the different texts in the different genres.

This allowed that within this literary period various movements were born, with different nuances that have given it greater life.

Main movements within modern literature

Literary romanticism

This literary movement developed at the end of the 18th century, having as its main standard the freedom of being in its different facets of life.

It was born to oppose neoclassicism and to give man the necessary tools that would allow him his political, artistic and personal emancipation, and live according to his perception of things. In addition, he rejected reason as the foundation of life and placed the dreamlike and individual feeling as priorities in written production.

When romanticism began to give way to structural changes in societies, it gave way to a series of currents that were considered its derivatives. These and their significance are presented below.

Literary Parnasianism

This literary movement was born at the beginning of the 19th century and its main premise was “art for art’s sake.”

Literary symbolism

This literary trend developed between the 19th and 20th centuries. It appeared as a counterpart to learning by repetition, which he classified as indoctrination, of chains that hold the being. He also opposed objectivity, alluding that general reality is the sum of individual perceptions of beings.

Literary decadence

This movement was born as a counterpart to Parnassianism, it developed between the 19th and 20th centuries. He demolished all aesthetic perceptions related to “art for art’s sake”, showing indifference to false moralisms.

He presented a free literary production, rooted in the individual, in the sensitivity of being, in the darkest corners of the human mind.

Literary realism

The literary realism appeared as opposed to romanticism, it was considered crude and personalises overloaded. In addition, he presented a disgust towards irreverence and the supposed freedom that it brought with it.

Literary realism had a purely descriptive character and was entrenched in the political positions and ideals of the left. His approach used to be extreme. He presented a clear opposition to everything that represented religion and mass domination through dogmas, considering them prisons of the human conscience.

Among its most representative modes of literary expression are the psychological novel and the social novel. In these, it is carefully considered how individuals interweave realities from subjective perspectives and how these, through intricate coexistence agreements, gave way to societies and their rules.

The presence of costumbrista novels within the realist current has also been common. These follow the same precepts, only that the realities they describe are subject to well-defined environments, both spatially and culturally.


The naturalism is a consequence of realism. It appeared to give reason and voice to the pictures that are presented daily in the life of societies. He described in great detail vandalism, prostitution, homelessness, abandoned children and the complicit silence of the institutions in the face of crimes, to speak of some points.

He radically attacks religious institutions and exposes them as part of the problem with his doctrines and mass management. This movement is extremist, its banner is denunciation, exposing the wounds of society in order to focus on healing or rot.

Literary modernism

The literary modernism has its roots in Latin America. It originated in the late 19th century. His main approach seeks to talk about what is lived in the historical moment, but shedding any sense of belonging to a particular culture.

For this current, man becomes a universal subject who makes all the knowledge he has his own. This literary trend sought to break with the aesthetics imposed by romanticism and everything that derived from it. The revolution of thought was the frank north to follow.

Literary avant-garde

The literary avant-garde also appeared as a counterpart of modernism and aimed towards innovation starting from the being as a creator of realities. In addition, it raises the dreamlike as a world of infinite possibilities as far as literary production is concerned.

The literary avant-garde seeks to renew society from its foundations, put an end to dogmas, to impositions, and bets on the individual by and for himself, as the very core of things, the reason for existence.

In his speech he points to freedom of expression and the disorder of the usual parameters with which the system has subjected individuals.

The impact of the avant-garde was such that it led to a series of alternate literary movements around the world. The ease of communication at the beginning of the twentieth century and advances in the field of transport increased dissemination of ideas around the plane, creating an unmatched creative effervescence.

The resulting vanguards are presented below:

Literary impressionism

In itself, this literary trend did not derive from the avant-garde, but was a cause of the avant-garde, gave way to its consolidation. This ideal was opposed by the avant-garde, although they acknowledged having obtained from this movement the expressiveness and richness of their speeches.

Literary expressionism

This literary movement, belonging to the twentieth century, has as its premise the restructuring of reality as we know it, in order to provide men out of the whole series of knots and ties that societies have imposed.

It proposed the connection of letters with the rest of the arts, alluding to sounds, colors and movements. He sought to amalgamate the perspectives to achieve the greatest possible manifestation – the most reliable – of the most internal thoughts of the being, such as his phobias and his anxieties.

Literary cubism

The literary cubism , born in the twentieth century, raises the impossible, the union of conflicting proposals, creating textual structures unlikely to make the reader question reality.

This tendency bets on the perception of the subconscious, on how things happen behind the eyes, in the particular world of each individual.

Literary futurism

Futurism seeks to break with the past and adoration innovative. The machine – and everything that involves wild leaps of reality in pursuit of the advanced – is the center of attention and worship.

His lyrics place special emphasis on nationalism and movement, they talk about the new and the future, never about what has already happened, about what means delay.

Literary ultraism

The literary Ultraism aims to staunch opposition to the modernist proposals. Plates the use of free verse and is directly linked to creationism and Dadaism, giving the being creative omnipotence through letters.

Literary Dadaism

The literary Dadaism emerged product of World War One . He was too opposed to the bourgeoisie and how apathetic it is in the face of social realities.

His speech is absurd and illogical, tinged with unfinished endings that leave the reader uncertain. It presents a marked use of sounds and words out of order, which are presumed to make sense to those who create them, and the meaning is given by what each person wishes to understand.

Literary creationism

In literary creationism, man takes the place of God. The writer is almighty and the word is the beginning and the end of realities.

Literary surrealism

The literary surrealism is derived from Dadaism and is based on studies of Sigmund Freud. Through the letters, the intimacies of the human subconscious and all the reality of dream spaces are exposed.

This trend has turned out to be one of the most picturesque in terms of themes, as well as one of the ones that most reveals the writer, by revealing the facets of his insides.

Characteristics of the characteristics of modern literature

Below are the characteristics of modern literature.

Escape from reality

It is presented as an escape from reality for readers, a kind of literary safe-conduct that allows, at times, to abstract from the discomforts that occur outside.

The subject is not due to a single culture

The subject belongs to the whole and not to a fragment of the whole. This denotes its universality and the breakdown of the cultural tax schemes that have reigned since ancient times.

Defend freedom of expression

The lyrical speaker‘s language can be presented without submitting or subjugating itself to any reality, neither prior nor present. Therefore, it defends uniqueness, which makes the subject an indivisible being with unique properties, a whole within the whole.

It exposes social realities in a crude way

Social criticism is one of its strengths, as is opposition to everything that represents religious and indoctrinating elements. It is an anarchic current par excellence, it breaks with the previous thing to give way to innovations, to evolution.

Seeks to change the realities from the individual himself

It seeks to change realities, as well as to show subjectivity and its influence on the social plane. It exposes how society does not make individuals, but rather that individuals shape societies. The subject is the center of the theme, he recreates the realities.

It is different from the Modern Age and literary modernism

The terms “modern literature” should not be confused with “Modern Age” or “literary modernism.” The first, which is what concerns this article, is a literary period in which the authors who make it up manifest the characteristics previously raised in their works.

For its part, modernism is a movement within modernist literature; that is, it is a manifestation within a universe. On the other hand, the Modern Age is the third historical period of humanity, according to universal history, which occurred between the 15th and 18th centuries.

Outstanding authors and their main works

After reading the characteristics of modern literature now read the authors of that time.

Miguel de Cervantes and Saavedra

Spanish writer, 16th century (1547-1616). Along with William Shakespeare, he is considered one of the fathers of modern literature.


  1. – The ingenious gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha  (1605).
  2. – Exemplary novels  (1613).
  3. – The ingenious knight Don Quixote de la Mancha  (1615).

William Shakespeare

English writer, 16th century (1564-1616), considered one of the fathers of modern literature.


  1. – Romeo and Juliet  (1595).
  2. – Hamlet  (1601).
  3. – Macbeth  (1606).

Théophile Gautier

French writer and photographer of the 19th century (1811-1872), he belonged to Parnassianism.


  1. – Fortunio or L’Eldorado  (1837).
  2. – Jean et Jeannette  (1850).
  3. – Le Capitaine Fracasse  (1863).

Jean Moréas

He was a 19th century Greek writer (1856-1910) with a tendency to poetry. It belonged to symbolism.


  1. – The sea of ​​the sirtes  (1884).
  2. – The cantilenas  (1886).
  3. – The stays (1899-1901).

Paul Marie Verlaine

French writer of the nineteenth century (1844-1896), he was the founder of the current of decadence.


  1. – The friends  (1867).
  2. – Spring  (1886).
  3. – Women  (1890).

Honoré de Balzac

Parisian writer born at the end of the 18th century (1799 -1850), he belonged to the current of realism.


  1. – The zapa skin  (1831).
  2. – The lily in the valley  (1836).
  3. – Cousin Bette  (1846).

Émile Édouard Charles Antoine Zola

19th century French writer (1840-1902), better known as Émile Zola. It belonged to the stream of naturalism.


  1. – Tales to Ninon (1864).
  2. – The fortune of the Rougon (1871).
  3. – The tavern (1877).

Ruben Dario

Nicaraguan poet of the 19th century (1867-1916), he was the founder of modernism.


  1. – Blue (1888).
  2. – The wandering song  (1907).
  3. – Autumn poem and other poems (1910).

Marcel proust

French writer of the 19th century (1871-1922), he belonged to impressionism .


  1. – The death of the cathedrals (1904).
  2. – In search of lost time (1913).
  3. – The prisoner (1925, posthumous work).

Franz kafka

Austro-Hungarian writer of the 19th century (1883-1924), he belonged to expressionism.


  1. – Contemplation (1913).
  2. – The metamorphosis (1915.)
  3. – In the penal colony (1919).

Wilhelm Albert Włodzimierz Apolinary from Kostrowicki

French writer of the 19th century (1880-1918), known as Guillaume Apollinaire. It belonged to cubism.


  1. – The bestiary or the courtship of Orpheus  (1911).
  2. – Alcohols  (1913).
  3. – Calligrams  (1918).

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti

Italian poet of the 19th century (1876-1944), he belonged to Futurism.


  1. – Manifesto of Futurism  (1909).
  2. – Mafarka il futurista  (1910).
  3. – Zang Tumb Tumb  (1914).

Hugo Ball

German poet of the 19th century (1886-1927), he belonged to Dadaism.


  1. – Die Nase des Michelangelo  (1911).
  2. – Umgearbeitete Fassung als: Die Folgen der Reformation (1924).
  3. – Die Flucht aus der Zeit  (1927).

Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo

Argentine poet of the late nineteenth century (1899-1986), better known as Jorge Luis Borges, was one of the founders of ultraism in Spain.


  1. – Fervor of Buenos Aires  (1923).
  2. – Moon in front  (1925).
  3. – San Martín Notebook  (1929).

André Breton

French writer of the 19th century (1896-1966), he belonged to surrealism.


  1. – Mount of piety  (1919).
  2. – The lost steps  (1924).
  3. – Fata Morgana  (1940).

Vicente García Huidobro Fernández

Chilean poet of the 19th century (1893-1948), better known as Vicente Huidobro, who was the founder of creationism.


  1. – Equatorial (1918).
  2. – Contrary winds (1926).
  3. – Tremor of Heaven (1931).

We hope that you have understood the characteristics of modern literature.

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