Spain Literature in the 20 the Century


According to Healthinclude, the sec. XX opens with a fact of enormous literary and moral significance: the affirmation of the Generation of ’98, composed of writers of powerful originality, such as Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936), poet, essayist, novelist and playwright, the “prose writer art “and critic Azorín (1873-1967), the novelist P. Baroja (1872-1956), the novelist and playwright R. del Valle-Inclán (1866-1936), the playwright J. Benavente (1866-1954), the essayist R. de Maetzu (1874-1936), and two operas who started a stupendous lyrical revival for several successive generations: JR Jiménez (1881-1958) and A. Machado y Ruiz (1875-1939). Each in their own way, they represent in the first place the anti-positivist (and antirealistic) revolt that characterized the European cultural climate of the late nineteenth century; and without any banal nationalism (the usual traditionalists even accused them of anti-Hispanism, as from Feijoo onwards had always happened to the most brilliant innovators and awakeners of conscience), they drew stimuli and ideas for the foundation of a vast and multifaceted twentieth-century literature of substance unmistakably Spanish and – no less important – of a high artistic level. For this reason it can be said that the Hispanic letters (in the broadest sense of the term) even today have not finished “dealing” with those ninety-eight “fathers” (or, if you prefer, “grandparents”). At least three other generations have so far succeeded them: Generation of ’27; that of the forties, deeply influenced, in many ways, by the civil war of 1936-39, and that of the sixties, much more sensitive to the artistic and socio-political events of the world, no less than to those particular in Spain. In precise synchrony, the symbolist-modernist aesthetic has been followed by other aesthetics or ideologies: surrealist, neoclassicist, existentialist, neorealist, socialist, experimentalist, etc., to which even the Spanish writers have more or less proved themselves receptive. However, this has never prevented, not even those who remained at home (and therefore subjected to a political regime that was anything but “liberal”, especially between 1923 and 1931, and from 1939 to 1975), from expressing passions, realities and “Spanish” hopes, J. Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955), master of the twentieth century artists of ’27, and by other “intermediaries”, such as the novelist-essayist R. Pérez de Ayala (1881-1962), the lyric-narrator G. Miró (1879 -1930), the essayist E. d’Ors (1882-1954) and the brilliant neo-baroque “inventor” and proto-futurist R. Gómez de la Serna (1888-1963). Here are now the most certainly eminent names of the writers of the last three generations.


At first, that of ’27 presents itself as a marvelous lyrical flowering: the Andalusians F. García Lorca (1898-1936), R. Alberti (1902-1999), V. Aleixandre (1898-1984), E. Prados (1899 -1962), L. Cernuda (1902-1963), M. Altolaguirre (1905-1959) and the Castilians P. Salinas (1892-1951), J. Guillén (1893-1984), G. Diego (1896-1987), D. Alonso (1898-1990) and J. Larrea (1895-1980), different personalities but of unparalleled poetic stature. Alongside them, always with avant-garde training, there are art prose writers, storytellers, critics, essayists, such as J. Bergamin (1897-1983), RJ Sender (1902-1982), M. Aub (1903-1972), F. Ayala (b.1906), M. Bacarisse (1895-1931), A. Espina (1894-1972), B. Jarnés (1888-1950), G. de Torre (1900-1972), R. Cansinos Asséns (1883-1964), E. Giménez Caballero (1899-1988), E. Montes (1897-1982), Corpus Barga (1892-1975), J. Arderíus (1890-1969), CM Arconada (1900-1964). Strangely, this extraordinary generation is less drawn to the theater, where the most brilliant innovations of the post-war period is represented by ‘ esperpento the “old” R. del Valle-Inclán (1866-1936), apart from some attempts at a “surreal comedian” by E. Jardiel Poncela (1901-1952), E. Neville (1899-1967), M. Mihura(1905-1977).


But in the Thirties, pure operas such as the aforementioned Lorca and Alberti also brought a beginning of renewal to the theater, too soon cut short by the civil war. This dispersed the Generation of ’27, which, in the great majority of cases, continued to operate in exile; but before that, new and brilliant lyrical reinforcements had already appeared, such as M. Hernández (1910-1942), LF Vivanco (1907-1975), L. Rosales (1910-1992), L. Panero (1909-1962), A. Serrano Plaja (b.1909), V. Crémer (b.1910), G. Celaya (1911-1991) etc., whose work flowed into that of the next generation. The latter certainly did not have an easy life, in the repressive climate of the 1940s, but first expressed, tirelessly, new poets such as D. Ridruejo(1912-1975), J. García Nieto (1914-2001), B. de Otero (1916-1979), JL Hidalgo (1919-1947), J. Hierro (b.1922), R. Montesinos (b.1920), C. Bousoño (b.1923), G. Fuertes (1918-1998), L. de Luis (b.1918), R. Morales (b.1919), V. Gaos (b.1919) and numerous others, only to try fiction and theater, genres much more guarded by censorship. However, this could not prevent the revelation of two leaders: the narrator CJ Cela (1916-2002) and the playwright A. Buero Vallejo (1916-2000), confirmed masters in recent decades. At least in part the narrative of social trends of the 1950s and 1960s derives from Cela, which includes authors such as M. Delibes (b.1920), AM Matute (b.1926), C. Laforet (b.1921), G. Torrente Ballester(1910-1999), Á. M. de Lera (1912-1984), JM Gironella (b.1917), J. Bonet (b.1917), P. de Lorenzo (b.1917), JL Martín Vigil, JL Castillo Puche (b.1919), E. Quiroga (1921-1995), R. Pinilla, LM Santos (1924-1964), I. Aldecoa (1925-1969), A. López Salinas (b. 1925), J. Fernández Santos (1926-1988), R. Sánchez Ferlosio (b. 1927), J. García Hortelano (1928-1992), A. Grosso (1928-1995), C. Rojas (b. 1928), A. Prieto (b. 1930); while among the younger ones there emerged J. Goytisolo (b.1931), H. Vázquez Azpiri, J. Marsé (b.1933), F. Umbral (b.1935), J. Torbado (b.1943), T. Moix (b.1943). In the theater, after A. Buero Vallejo (1916-2000), who remains the strongest and most accomplished personality of the post-war period, good affirmations have led A. Sastre (b.1926), openly committed playwright, L. Olmo (1922-1994), C. Muñiz, J. Salom (b.1925), A. Gala (b.1937), J. Rodríguez Méndez (b.1925), A. Diosdado (b.1938), J. Rodríguez Budel, JM Recuerda (n.1926) and others, while the easier comedy of amusement, of mild social criticism or overtly humorous, is cultivated, among others, by A. Paso (1926-1978), JJ Alonso Millán, C. Llopis, Jaime de Armiñán (b.1935) etc. Finally, active and numerous, along the path opened by the Generation of ’98, are the thinkers, critics and essayists of the most diverse and up-to-date trends: from the old historians of the Spanish past, including A. Castro (1885-1972), C. Sánchez Albornoz (1893-1984), J. Vicéns Vives and their disciples, to the more or less direct continuers of Ortegian thought, including J. Marías (b.1914), P. Laín Entralgo (1908-2001), JA Maravall (1911- 1986), F. Vela (1888-1960), P. Garagorri (b.1916), J. Ferrater Mora (1912-1991), M. Zambrano(1907-1991), M. Granell (1906-1993), X Zubiri (1898-1983), R. Xirau (b. 1924), J. Gaos (1902-1969); from the Catholics JL Aranguren (1909-1996), P. Sainz Rodríguez (1898-1986), JM González Ruiz, J. Ruiz Giménez, J. Lozano (b.1930) etc., to the positivists and Marxists E. Tierno Galván (1918 -1986), M. Sacristán (1925-1985), C. Castilla del Pino (b.1922), C. París etc., up to an increasingly large group of historians of the modern and contemporary world which includes M. Tuñón de Lara (1915-1997), M. Artola (b.1923), R. de la Cierva, economists such as R. Tamames (b.1933), sociologists, literary and artistic critics, publicists, anthropologists such as J. Caro Baroja (1914 -1995) etc.

Spain Literature in the 20 the Century