With the colonization of South and Central America by the
Spaniards and the Portuguese, a rich chronicle literature
emerged describing the nature and people of the new world.
In the beginning, these were European chronicles, many
soldiers and clergy, and later also Native Americans who had
learned the language of the colonial rulers. The Chronicles
are the only prose of the colonial period, i.e. because the
Spanish crown banned imports of the popular knight novels
that were supposed to demoralize the Indians.
Thus, there was no background to the development of a
novel genre such as in contemporary Europe. The colonial
era's works in lyric and drama are, with a few notable
exceptions, a pale rendition of European literature.
After the wars of independence in the 1800s, Latin
American countries began to develop independent literatures
in opposition to the former colonial powers, though often
with an uncritical orientation against trends and fashion
trends in Europe, in particular France. Check
for population and country list in South America.
Throughout the century, a number of literary groups were
formed with the aim of stimulating modern national
literature and discussing their preconditions and goals. The
first Latin American novels saw the light of day, and in
Spanish-language lyricism, the symbolist-inspired modernism
with Nicaraguan Ruben Darió as the founder of a pioneering
movement away from a stiffened Spanish tradition. It should
not be confused with the Portuguese-language, Brazilian
modernism that emerged in the 1920s and was futuristically
In the 1900s. there is an explosive development in Latin
American literature, i.a. under the influence of political
upheavals. It manifests itself in all genres and with widely
different themes and aesthetic expressions, characterized by
the authors' anchoring in the ethnically diverse cultures
and their individual international orientations.
Some Latin American writers stayed in Paris in the 1920s
and 1930s and returned with inspiration from European
surrealism. Others had North American role models such as
William Faulkner and John Dos Passos.
Man's struggle against nature, political corruption,
violence and racism are some of the overall 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 Brazilian Mário de Andrade and the two Nobel
laureates, Colombian Gabriel García Márquez and Guatemalan
Miguel Ángel Asturias. The contention of rationality and
order is a characteristic feature of modern Latin American
literature and is also reflected in Argentine Jorge Luis
Borges' philosophical short stories and essays, where
fiction itself is often the subject.
Within the lyric, diverse directions are cultivated, from
the politically agitatory 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 highly varying and original forms.
In addition to literature written in Latin America, Latin
American literature includes a number of works by authors
who are permanently or temporarily resident abroad. Thus, in
the United States there is quite a wide range of
Spanish-language literature, authored by Puerto Rican and
Mexican immigrants, addressing the clash between Latin
American and North American culture.
With the so-called boom of the 1960s, 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.