Spanish literature has influenced and been influenced by various literary movements, genres, and styles leaving a lasting impact on world literature.
Spanish literature spans centuries, preserving the tradition, cultural values and heritage of Spanish-speaking regions, contributing significantly to their unique identity.
10. JULIO CORTÁZAR
Julio Florencio Cortázar was an Argentine and French novelist, short story writer, essayist, and translator. Known as one of the founders of the Latin American Boom, Cortázar influenced an entire generation of Spanish-speaking readers and writers in America and Europe.
Cortázar wrote numerous short stories, collected in such volumes as Bestiario (1951), Final del juego (1956), and Las armas secretas (1959). Cortázar published four novels during his lifetime: Los premios (The Winners, 1960), Rayuela, (1963), 62 Modelo para Armar, (1968), and Libro de Manuel (1973). Two other novels, El examen and Divertimento, though written before 1960, only appeared posthumously.
The open-ended structure of Hopscotch, which invites the reader to choose between a linear and a non-linear mode of reading, has been praised by other Latin American writers.
Cortázar’s use of interior monologue and stream of consciousness owes much to James Joyce but his main influences were Surrealism and the improvisatory aesthetic of jazz. This last interest is reflected in the notable story “El perseguidor”, based on the life of the bebop saxophonist Charlie Parker.
Cortázar also published poetry, drama, and various works of non-fiction.
In the 1960s, working with the artist José Silva, he created two libros-almanaque, La vuelta al día en ochenta mundos and Último Round, which combined various texts written by Cortázar with photographs, engravings, and other illustrations, in the manner of the almanaques del mensajero that had been widely circulated in rural Argentina during his childhood.
One of his last works was a collaboration with Carol Dunlop, Los Autonautas de la Cosmoruta, which relates, partly in mock-heroic style, the couple’s extended expedition along the autoroute from Paris to Marseille in a Volkswagen camper nicknamed Fafner.
As a translator, Julio Cortázar completed Spanish-language renderings of Robinson Crusoe, Marguerite Yourcenar’s novel Mémoires d’Hadrien, and the complete prose works of Edgar Allan Poe.
9. FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA
Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca, known as Federico García Lorca, was a Spanish poet, playwright, and theatre director.
García Lorca achieved international recognition as an emblematic member of the Generation of ’27, a group consisting mostly of poets who introduced the tenets of European movements (such as symbolism, futurism, and surrealism) into Spanish literature.
A friend of Salvador Dalí, Garcia Lorca initially rose to fame with Romancero gitano (Gypsy Ballads, 1928), a book of poems depicting life in his native Andalusia. His poetry incorporated traditional Andalusian motifs and avant-garde styles. After a sojourn in New York City from 1929 to 1930, he returned to Spain and wrote his best-known plays, Blood Wedding (1932), Yerma (1934), and The House of Bernarda Alba (1936).
García Lorca was assassinated by Nationalist forces at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.
8. EDUARDO GALEANO
Eduardo Hughes Galeano was an Uruguayan journalist, writer and novelist considered, among other things, “global soccer’s pre-eminent man of letters” and “a literary giant of the Latin American left”. Galeano’s best-known works are Las venas abiertas de América Latina and Memoria del fuego.
7. MARIO VARGAS LLOSA
Mario Vargas Llosa is a Peruvian novelist, journalist, essayist and former politician.
Vargas Llosa is one of Latin America’s most significant novelists and essayists. In 2010 he won the Nobel Prize in Literature, “for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat.” He also won the 1967 Rómulo Gallegos Prize, the 1986 Prince of Asturias Award, the 1994 Miguel de Cervantes Prize, the 1995 Jerusalem Prize, the 2012 Carlos Fuentes International Prize, and the 2018 Pablo Neruda Order of Artistic and Cultural Merit.
Vargas Llosa rose to international fame in the 1960s with novels such as La ciudad y los perros 1963/1966, La casa verde, 1965/1968, and the Conversación en la catedral, 1969/1975. He writes prolifically across an array of literary genres, including literary criticism and journalism. His novels include comedies, murder mysteries, historical novels, and political thrillers. Several, such as Captain Pantoja and the Special Service (1973/1978) and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (1977/1982), have been adapted as feature films.
Many of Vargas Llosa’s works are influenced by the writer’s perception of Peruvian society and his own experiences as a native Peruvian. Increasingly, he has expanded his range and tackled themes that arise from other parts of the world. In his essays, Vargas Llosa has made many criticisms of nationalism in different parts of the world. Another change over the course of his career has been a shift from a style and approach associated with literary modernism, to sometimes playful postmodernism.
Like many Latin American writers, Vargas Llosa has been politically active throughout his career. While he initially supported the Cuban revolutionary government of Fidel Castro, Vargas Llosa later became disenchanted with its policies, particularly after the imprisonment of Cuban poet Heberto Padilla in 1971.
6. ISABEL ALLENDE
Isabel Allende is a Chilean writer. Allende is known for her successful novels such as The House of the Spirits and City of the Beasts.
5. MIGUEL DE CERVANTES
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was a Spanish writer widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language and one of the world’s pre-eminent novelists. He is best known for his novel Don Quixote, a work often cited as both the first modern novel and one of the pinnacles of world literature.
4. DON MIGUEL RUIZ
Miguel Ángel Ruiz Macías, better known as Don Miguel Ruiz, is a Mexican author of Toltec spiritualist and neo-shamanistic texts. His work is best received among members of the New Thought movement that focuses on ancient teachings as a means to achieve spiritual enlightenment. His most famous book is “Los Cuatro Acuerdos: Guia Practica para Libertad Personal (Un libro de Sabiduria Toltec)“, 1997.
3. JORGE LUIS BORGES
Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo was an Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet, and translator, as well as a key figure in Spanish-language and international literature.
Eight of Borges’s poems appear in the 1943 anthology of Spanish American Poets by H. R. Hays. “The Garden of Forking Paths“, one of the first Borges stories to be translated into English, appeared in the August 1948 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.
In 1962, two major anthologies of Borges’s writings were published in English by New York presses: Ficciones and Labyrinths.
Some of Borges’s most famous books include “El Libro de los seres imaginarios”, 1967, co-written with Margarita Guerrero, “El informe de Brodie” (1970), and “El libro de arena” (1975). He lectured prolifically. Many of these lectures were anthologized in volumes such as “Siete noches” and “Nueve ensayos dantescos”.
Borges dedicated his final work, “Los Conspiradores”, to the city of Geneva, Switzerland.
2. CARLOS FUENTES
Carlos Fuentes Macías was a Mexican novelist and essayist. Among his works is The Death of Artemio Cruz, Aura, Terra Nostra, The Old Gringo and Christopher Unborn.
1. GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ (GABO)
Gabriel García Márquez was a Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter, and journalist, known affectionately as Gabo or Gabito throughout Latin America. Gabo is known for his famous Nobel Prize novel: “One Hundred Years of Solitude”.
Gabriel García Márquez
MY BUCKET LIST OF CONTEMPORARY WRITERS IN SPANISH
- Jorge Bucay. Argentinian gestalt psychoterapist and writer.
- Walter Riso. Italian psychoterapist and writer.
Spanish literature and writers are of great importance due to their historical significance, global impact, cultural richness, artistic brilliance, and their role in shaping cultural identity and societal discourse.
Spanish writers continue to be an essential and influential part of world literature.
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