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.
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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
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
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.