Latin America Arts and Literature

Latin America literature

With the colonization of South and Central America by the Spaniards and Portuguese, a rich chronicle of literature emerged, describing the nature and people of the new world. In the beginning it was about European chroniclers, privates and clergy, later also about Indians who had learned the language of the colonial masters. The Chronicles is the only prose of the colonial era, because the Spanish crown banned the import of the popular knight novels that were thought to demoralize the Indians.

Thus, there was no background for the development of a novel genre as in contemporary Europe. Colonial-era creations in poetry and drama are, with few notable exceptions, a pale reflection of European literature.

After the wars of independence in the 1800’s. the Latin American countries began to develop independent literatures in opposition to those of the former colonial powers, though often with an uncritical orientation towards currents and fashion phenomena in Europe, in particular France.

  • Countryaah is a website offering country profiles and lists of of countries in the continent of Latin America.

Over the course of the century, a number of literary groups were formed with the aim of stimulating modern national literatures and discussing their preconditions and goals. The first Latin American novels saw the light of day, and in Spanish-language poetry became the symbolist-inspired modernism with the Nicaraguan Ruben Darió as the founder of a pioneering movement away from a rigid Spanish tradition. It should not be confused with the Portuguese-speaking, Brazilian modernism that emerged in the 1920’s and was futuristically oriented.

In the 1900’s. there is an explosive development in Latin American literature, under the influence of political upheavals. It manifests itself in all genres and with widely differing themes and aesthetic expressions, characterized by the authors’ anchoring in the ethnically diverse cultures and by their individual international orientations.

A number of Latin American writers resided in Paris in the 1920’s and 1930’s and returned home inspired by European surrealism. Others had North American role models like William Faulkner and John Dos Passos.

Man’s struggle against nature, political corruption, violence and racism are some of the overarching romantic themes that often unfold in the so-called magical realism, where reality, myth and magic exist side by side, as seen, for example, by the Brazilian Mário de Andrade and the two Nobel laureates, Colombian Gabriel García Márquez and Guatemalan Miguel Ángel Asturias. The challenge to rationality and order is a characteristic feature of modern Latin American literature and is also expressed in the philosophical short stories and essays of the Argentine Jorge Luis Borges, where the fiction itself is often the subject.

Within poetry, diverse directions are cultivated, from the politically agitatoric to the refined form-experimenting poem. Peruvian César Vallejo, Mexican Nobel laureate Octavio Paz and Chilean Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda are examples of landmark innovators of the lyrical expression. The dramatic genre is also flourishing, not least in Chile, Argentina and Mexico, where the dramatic tradition is strong. Ibsen, Brecht and French absurdism have been important sources of inspiration, but otherwise existential and political themes are presented in widely varying and original forms.

Latin American literature includes, in addition to literature written in Latin America, a number of works by authors residing permanently or temporarily abroad. Thus, in the United States, there is a fairly extensive body of Spanish-language literature, written by Puerto Rican and Mexican immigrants, that deals with the clash between Latin American and North American culture.

With the so-called boom of the 1960’s, Latin American literature became one subject of intense international attention. A large number of works have been translated, also into Danish, just as Latin American drama in translation has found its way to Danish scenes.

Latin America visual arts and architecture

European colonization in the 1500’s. was expressed in an extensive church and monastery building, executed by summoned architects and artists with a background in Spanish and Portuguese traditions. The buildings were often located on the ruins of ruined cities, monuments and shrines. From the 1500’s and 1600’s. several of the cathedrals in the big cities, including Mexico City and Puebla in Mexico, Lima and Cuzco in Peru; they are built in Renaissance and Baroque style, but with Native American touches, especially in detail and decoration. The Moorish mudéjar style also appears in many buildings. In the 1700’s ts building, the Spanish churrigueresk style is seen, which in the Latin American countries got an even more lavish design than in the motherland, such as the cathedral of Zacatecas in Mexico. Building style and forms of expression in Brazil followed to a greater extent the European models in Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassicism, as there was no Native American tradition to build on. The visual arts unfolded especially in connection with the church building, as decoration and in the form of sculptures and paintings with religious motifs.

With the 1800’s independence movements and the formation of independent states also followed the development of more distinctive – also profane – building customs and artistic forms of expression.

Latin America visual arts

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