Spanish Authors and Literature in Spain

Category: History of Spain

Spanish literature can simply be understood as the body of literary works created in Spain. These works are categorized into three main language divisions. These are Galician, Catalan, and Castilian.

History of Spanish literature

The history of Spanish literature can be tracked back many centuries ago. Over this period, Spanish literature has been influenced a lot by events taking place in Spain and in the world and it has also influenced the world to some extent. The literature began in the 12th century with “El Cantar Del Mio Cid”, a narrative that was conveyed verbally via storytellers. The first form of written Spanish literature, however, began in the 13th century during the middle ages and this introduced all the genres of theatre, poetry, and prose. This was followed by the Baroque period or the Golden Age which witnessed numerous literary productions from a number of authors such as Miguel de Cervantes through his masterpiece, the adventures of the mad knight “Don Quixote.” Other important authors of this era were Lope de Vega, the play writer, and Quevedo the poet.

In the enlightenment period, poetry was not very strong and in prose, didactic texts and essays gained popularity. Romanticism began in the 19th century with figures such as Manuel José Quintana and José de Espronceda among others. This was followed by realism and the main genres were poetry with poets such as Ramón de Campoamor among others, theatre with Manuel Tamayo Baus, and novel with Leopoldo Alas, Emilia Pardo Bazán among others.  The 20th century brought about a lot of change in Spanish literature. Most authors developed their own personal style and novels became the most common genre.

Spanish writers

Spain has produced many amazing writers in all genres and most of them have played a role in the growth and expansion of a number of the biggest library movements. A number of iconic Spanish writers from the past include Miguel de Cervantes known for his work Don Quixote; Federico García Lorca a playwright and poet who wrote about rural life, gypsies and flamenco; Arturo Pérez-Reverte a journalist-cum-author known for his sequence of novels following the adventures of Captain Alatriste; Rafael Alberti a poet known for his compilation of poems, Marinero en tierra (Sailor on land); Rosalía de Castro the first female author to gain state recognition for writing in the Galician language; and Pío Baroja a novelist known for his trilogy called La Lucha Por la Vida (The Struggles of Life) which portrayed the life of the working class in the slums of Madrid.

Some of the well-known writers of today include Javier Marías known for his works such as A Heart So White and Your Face Tomorrow; Rosa Montero a novelist and a journalist known for novels such as The Delta Function and The Lunatic of the House; Elvira Navarro author of The Happy City; Sónia Hernández poet and author of Los enfermos erróneos (The Wrong Patients); and Ildefonso Falcones a lawyer and writer known for books such as Cathedral of the Sea, The Hand of Fatima, and La Reina Descalza. The list of these amazing authors goes on and on, all to portray the greatness and prowess of Spanish literature.

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Modern influences in Spanish Literature

Nothing had a greater impact on Spanish literature other than the Spanish Civil War. Francisco Franco, Spain’s dictator, had a vision of Spain’s second golden age which was reflected in was written at that time. Most emerging Spanish writers were children during the civil war. Well into the dictatorship Spanish authors evolved into a more restless style of writing. With the death of Franco in 1975, the emerging democracy had great influence over the new generation of Spanish writers.  Some of this noted younger generation were: Juan José Millás, Rosa Montero, Javier Marías, Luis Mateo Díez, José María Merino, Félix de Azúa, Cristina Fernández Cubas, Enrique Vila-Matas, Carme Riera, and later Antonio Muñoz Molina and Almudena Grandes.

Popular themes in Spanish Literature

  • Some of the popular themes in Spanish writing included oneself. Who doesn’t enjoy writing about themselves?
  • Love and passion. This is a common theme in all writing and literature.
  • Legends and history.
  • Religious topics, including writing about God and Satan.
  • Social issues such as wealth and poverty.
  • Stories intertwined with nature such as storms.
  • Political Satire.