The pursuit of a means for expressing the criollo soul and way of being was fulfilled at last with the arrival of the printing press in 1806, which besides creating a boom in journalism marked the beginning of literary activity in Puerto Rico. Following the publication of the first Puerto Rican newspaper, the Gaceta de Puerto Rico (1806-1902), a few other newspapers with a more literary bent, such as the Diario Liberal y de Variedades de Puerto Rico (1821-1822), were circulated. The first generations of Puerto Rican Romantic writers became known through the Boletín Mercantil, a San Juan newspaper founded in 1839. María Bibiana Benítez (1783-1873), the first woman poet in Puerto Rico, wrote a eulogy in verse dedicated to the weekly publication, expressing her hope that the new newspaper would kindle literary activity. Indeed, it was in the pages of the Boletín that local literary activity really began.
The Aguinaldo Puertorriqueño (1843) was printed on the same press as the Boletín Mercanti, and comprised original writings in prose and verse that marked the beginning of Romanticism in Puerto Rico. Among its collaborators was Alejandrina Benítez, the first woman poet of the Romantic school in Puerto Rico. A year later, a group of Puerto Rican university students in Barcelona published the álbum Puertorriqueño (1844), in which a sense of national pride is evident. Outstanding among the collaborators were Manuel A. Alonso (1822-1889), author of El Jíbaro (1849), a work that initiates the criollismo style in Puerto Rican literature. Other writers that showed interest in the idea of the criollo during the 19th century…
The development of Romantic poetry had two different periods. The first period encompasses from the beginning of literary activity on the Island until 1880, and was characterized by an exaggerated sentimentality. Later, the movement became more akin to Becquerian Post-Romanticism, characterized by a delicacy and tenderness of expression. José Gautier Benítez (1851-1880), Alejandrina Benítez’s son, became the most outstanding exponent of this first Romantic period. In his poetry he surmounted the aesthetic constraints of the school, prevalent on the Island, that was an imitation of the works of Spanish writers then in vogue, José de Espronceda and José Zorrilla. His strong patriotic sense is demonstrated in the trilogy dedicated to Puerto Rico: Ausencia, Regreso and A Puerto Rico. Other authors of the first Romantic lyrical period…
The second period of Romantic poetry in Puerto Rico, a transition period between Romanticism and Modernism, was defined by French Parnassianism. Luis Muñoz Rivera (1859-1916) was the most important practitioner of this literary style, which had emerged as a reaction against the Spanish despotic colonial regime. His verse was characterized by civic and political themes. Muñoz Rivera’s poetry is distinguished by the meticulousness of its Parnassian formality. Sísifo, a poem of deep political reflection, is considered his most important work in this style. Other important poets of the Romanticism in Puerto Rico…
During the second half of the 19th century, the theater was dominated by Romanticism and Eclecticism, which were the prevailing styles in Spain. The Theater in Puerto Rico gathered impetus under the aegis of Alejandro Tapia y Rivera (1826-1882). His best known works include: La cuarterona and La parte del león (1880). Later, Salvador Brau (1842-1912) became the most prominent figure in 19th century local theater, with works such as La vuelta al hogar (1877) and Los horrores del triunfo (1887), which were quite successful on the local stage. During the last decades of the 19th century, there were several playwrights that were influenced by Spanish Post-Romantics, such as Ramón Marín, Manuel María Sama and Gabriel Ferrer Hernández.
Tapia y Rivera was also the most prominent figure in fiction. Some of his most important works include La palma del cacique (1862), Leyenda histórica sobre el pasado indígena and La leyenda de los veinte años. Other works are Cofresí and the companion works Póstumo el transmigrado and Póstumo el envirginado (both written in 1882), a critical overview of the society of his times, in which he addressed philosophical questions and feminist ideas that were ahead of their time in Hispanic countries.
Eugenio María de Hostos (1839-1903) also wrote Romantic fiction. He was the author of La peregrinación de Bayoán, which is considered the first true Puerto Rican novel. His La tela de araña, was a novel that was entered into a Real Academia Española competition in 1864, but remained unpublished until 1992.
The Romantic Essay
Following on the work of Manuel Alonso, Tapia y Rivera continued to develop the essay form. He was the author of important works such as Vida del pintor puertorriqueño José Campeche (1855) and Noticias históricas de Don Ramón Power (1873), both of which attempt to embody the criollo essence, and of Mis memorias o Puerto Rico como lo encontré y como lo dejo and Conferencias sobre estética y literatura, which are considered the best of his essays.
Eugenio María de Hostos is among the writers that initiated the essay form in Latin America. Hostos wrote about issues related to the social, economic, and political order of what he calls “the Greater Homeland”. His Tratado de moral social represents the culmination of the Hostosian creed. Hostos was the author of many distinguished critical essays on the literature of the Americas, as well as world literature. His Madre isla, a volume of his Complete works, is devoted to Puerto Rico. Other Puerto Rican Romantic essayists…
Realism and Naturalism emerged as styles towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. Realism was initiated in Europe and found fertile ground on the island because of the prevailing economic and social problems of colonial Puerto Rico. Francisco del Valle Atiles (1852-1928) published the first realistic work,Inocencia, followed by Salvador Brau, author of La pecadora. Other important realistic novelists include Federico Degetau and Abelardo Morales Ferrer.
A decade later, the experimental novel, initiated by the French writer Emile Zolá, began to be cultivated. Manuel Zeno Gandía (1855-1930) would become the most prominent writer of naturalistic novels, marking the maturity of this genre on the Island. Zeno Gandía wrote a series called Crónicas de un mundo enfermo, which included La charca (1894), the most significant; Garduña (1896), El Negocio (1922) and Redentores (1925). Other important writers of naturalist novels…
Modernist Poetry and Prose
After the consolidation of the Puerto Rican identity, and subsequent to the events of 1898, local literature became a means for defending the Spanish language and Puerto Rican culture. The first literary movement of the 20th century in Puerto Rico, modernismo or Modernism, favored nationalist and Latin American ideologies. The preciosismo and exoticism of the aesthetic that characterized the first period of Rubén Dario’s poetry was felt to a degree, and the need to strengthen the Hispanic character of the Island suffused this movement with political, patriotic, and traditional themes. José de Diego was the transitional figure between Romanticism and Modernism as his poetry was written in both styles.
Modernist Puerto Rican Poetry
Luis Lloréns Torres (1878-1944) was the principal figure of the modernismo movement on the Island. He embodied literary renovation by proposing new personal poetic theories such as Pancalismo and Panedismo. These theories were the basis for the series of poems called Visiones de mi musa, included in Sonetos sinfónicos (1914). Between 1911 and 1913 he wrote Velas épicas and Canción de las Antillas, his masterpiece, akin to Rubén Dario’s work, in which the poet reflects the spirit of renovation embodied in modernismo. Lloréns also wrote Modernist works inspired in criollo themes, as in Voces de la campana mayor (1964) and Alturas de América (1940). Other poets of the modernismo school on the Island…
Modernist Puerto Rican Prose
The spirit of renovation in modernismo was also evident in prose works, but with less intensity and to a lesser extent than in poetry. Prose writings reflected a need to infuse the written word with a personal dimensions and artistic resonance. Most prominent Modernist essayists…
Modernist Puerto Rican Theater
Modern drama was less significant in terms of quantity and quality. The most prominent authors and works are Luis Lloréns Torres with his El Grito de Lares and Nemesio R. Canales with El héroe galopante.
The writers of the Generation of the 1930s constituted the first generation of Puerto Rican intellectuals that had been educated under the new circumstances and culture that emerged following the historic events of 1898. These writers developed there were attuned to the Vanguard movements in the arts. They reacted to the cultural assimilation campaigns furthered by the United States, clinging to Hispanic and criollo roots. Intellectual production focused on interpreting the meaning of what was jíbaro as the essence of Puerto-Ricanness, while being moved by more universal aesthetic concerns.
The most important figure of the 1930s generation was Antonio S. Pedreira (1899-1939), who attempted to define Puerto Rico’s collective personality, which appeared to be disintegrating as a consequence of the presence of the United States on the Island. He favored a somber and precise prose style based on an analysis of different aspects of Puerto Rican life. Pedreria considered historical aspects in El año terrible del 87 (1937), a part of his most important work, Insularismo (1934). His work also includes biographical studies (Hostos, ciudadano de América, 1932), essays in literary studies (La actualidad del jíbaro, 1935), and journalistic essays (El periodismo en Puerto Rico, 1941).
Tomás Blanco’s (1897-1975) essays complemented Pedreira’s work. His Prontuario histórico de Puerto Rico (1935) constitutes along with Insularismo the foundation for the study of Puerto Rico’s historic and cultural essence. Among all of Pedreira’s followers, Enrique A. Laguerre (1906-2006) is closest to the concerns and attitudes of his mentor regarding the destiny of Puerto Rican culture. One of his most important essays is Hojas libres. The best works of essayist Emilio S. Belaval (1903-1972) are Los problemas de la cultura puertorriqueña (1935), and El teatro como vehículo de expresión de nuestra cultura (1940), which are included in his book Areyto (1948).
Essayist Concha Meléndez (1895-1983) from the time of the publication of her first book, Amado Nervo (1926), devoted her efforts to the study of Latin American literature, such as the work of Pablo Neruda and Alfonso Reyes. Margot Arce de Vázquez (1904-1990) was a colleague of Concha Meléndez at the University, possessing a simple and concise prose style. Besides her critical work on literary figures such as Garcilazo de la Vega, Gabriela Mistral and José de Diego, she devoted significant works to the landscapes of her native and other lands, gathered in Impresiones: notas puertorriqueñas (1950). Another very important essayist was José A. Balseiro (1900-1991), a scholar of Hispanic literature and author of books such as El Vigía; ensayos de crítica literaria y musical. Other prominent essayist include: Francisco Manrique Cabrera (1908-1978); María Teresa Babín (1910-1989); Augusto Malaret (1878-1967), and Rubén del Rosario (1907-1995). Other important essayist writers during the 1930’s in Puerto Rico…
Poetry in the 1930s originates in the passionate aesthetic ideas of the vanguard movements of the 1920s. Puerto Rican poets created an innovate poetry characterized by a simplicity of expression, formal perfectionism, and Neo-Romantic inspiration or criollo affirmation, greatly influenced by Spain’s Generation of 1927. Luis Palés Matos (1898-1959) pioneered the Negrismo movement, which was followed by other Latin American poets. Part of his negrista works are included in his book Tuntún de pasa y grifería (1937), a testimony of his concerns regarding black people’s circumstances in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. Later on, Palés will take on themes of cosmic transcendence in his search for answers to the eternal questions of mankind in works such as Puerta al tiempo en tres voces and El llamado.
The vast work of Evaristo Ribera Chevremont (1936-1976) is collected in more than twenty published volumes. His poetry is inspired by metaphysical themes and in criollo elements, crafted in traditional verse forms as well as free verse. The poet’s best work was collected in the anthology Creación (1951), followed by Nueva antología (1966). Another outstanding poetic voice of the 1930s was Julia de Burgos (1914-1953), whose poetry is intimate and erotic. She rendered tribute to her homeland, to nature, to the landscape that included her Río Grande de Loíza and wrote of a new social order, foretelling the poetry of the 1960s. Juan Antonio Corretjer (1908-1985) dedicated his poetry to the love he felt for his homeland, delving into to the roots of the material and spiritual reality of Puerto Rico. Other illustrious poets of the 1930s Generation…
This generation attempted to go beyond traditional Costumbrismo and Realism and the objective approach of earlier writers, while offering a universal interpretation of Mankind and his surroundings. These works of fiction mainly present an agrarian reality and strive for social justice as is evident in the works of authors from other countries such as Rómulo Gallegos, Ciro Alegría, Jorge Icaza, Juan Bosch, etc. Emilio S. Belaval (1903-1972) renewed the genre of the short story. His works include Los cuentos de la Universidad; Cuentos para fomentar el turismo and Cuentos de la Plaza Fuerte. In Tomás Blanco’s (1897-1975) short fiction, the plot fades into the background, giving way to psychological factors, the internal struggle of the characters, as well as to reflections on human behavior as in Cuentos sin ton ni son. Another renowned author of short stories was Antonio Oliver Frau (1902-1945), author of Cuentos y leyendas del cafetal (1938).
Enrique A. Laguerre is considered the best novelist from this generation as well as the best Puerto Rican novelist. With his first novel, La llamarada (1935) local fiction ceased to be a mere projection of the traditional European novel, and joined the current of Latin American rural realist or telúrico literature. His novels focus on the problems experienced in the country and the city, and in modern society. Beginning with Cauce sin río (1962) he analyzes the Island’s economic and moral situation. Other fiction writers of the 1930s Generation…
Modern theater begins in Puerto Rico at the end of the 1930s, influenced by post World War I theater in the United States and Europe. Two of the most prominent playwrights were Manuel Méndez Ballester (1909-2002) and Emilio S. Belaval (1903-1972). Méndez Ballester, author of Tiempo muerto, is considered the most distinguished playwright of his generation. Belaval created a theater that was an authentic reflection of the Island’s cultural reality, while integrating the finest aesthetic movements of the universal theater. His La Hacienda de Los Cuatro Vientos (1959) is considered his most outstanding work. Other playwright during the 1930’s…
The works created by this generation are saturated by their existential anguish, a product of the atomic bomb and the end of World War II. During this period, there was a paradoxical economic growth on the one hand, and on the other, a neglect of spiritual, cultural, moral, and social values. The writers of this generation focused on the forsaken past, the hollow lives of the new bourgeoisie, the country folk or jíbaro’s helplessness, the new proletarian class, the bitter experiences of the Puerto Rican émigrés, and their feeling of impotence with regard to solving the issue of Puerto Rico’s political status.
The Short Story
The most notable achievement of this generation was in the genre of the short story. The stories that began to be written in 1945 were oriented towards the new moderninternational tendencies. In the literature written in Puerto Rico, the urban environment was predominant, especially focusing on the slums. When the subject was the bourgeoisie, the misery described was of a spiritual nature. This wide range of themes made it possible to develop an overview of Puerto Rican society, a kind of radiograph of the period.
René Marqués (1919-1979) is the most important short story writer of this generation as well as one of the best storytellers in contemporary Latin American literature. Otro día nuestro (1955) and En una Ciudad llamada San Juan (1960) are stories of particularly well-crafted characters and environments.
José Luis González (1926-1996), and Abelardo Díaz Alfaro, initiated the transformation in style and technique experienced by the short story in Puerto Rico. Beginning with El hombre en la calle (1948) González’s fiction focused on the problems experienced by the working class and Puerto Ricans that emigrated to Nueva York.
In Terrazo (1947), Abelardo Díaz Alfaro (1919-1999) depicts the jibaro and the situation of Puerto Ricans in general, describing the problems of the physical environment and human existence. This writer recreates the rural reality with a pictorial and sculptural sensibility infused with a delicate lyricism and the symbolism present in his work reflects a profound human dimension. His story Los perros is of an admirable artistic quality. Spiks (1957), by Pedro Juan Soto (1928-2002), is a collection of short stories inspired by the humble criollo living in the New York ghetto. His Neo-Naturalist approach, employing crude realism and irony, captures the conditions of moral disintegration and misery. Other short story writers from the Generation of 1945…
There are three novelists of an outstanding literary and narrative quality in this period: Pedro Juan Soto (1928-2002), Emilio Díaz Valcárcel (b.1929), José Luis González (1926-1996). Soto takes on new subjects his novels, in Usmaíl (1959), writing about Vieques, and in Ardiente suelo, fría estación (1961), about Puerto Ricans that have emigrated to New York and returned to the Island in search of their roots. In some of his works, such as El Franco-tirador (1969) he shows the adulteration of patriotic values and feelings and of Puerto Rican culture.
The most important work written by Emilio Díaz Valcárcel is Figuraciones en el mes de marzo (1972). Díaz Valcárcel has also published Inventario (1975), Harlem todos los días (1978), Mi mamá me ama (1981), Dicen que de noche tú no duermes (1985). The first novel written by José Luis González was Paisa: un relato de la emigración (1950), but it was not until Balada de otro tiempo (1978) and La llegada (1980) that he began to practice the genre extensively. These two works evoke remote periods of Puerto Rican history. Other important novelists of the Generation of 1945…
The literary movements that nourished the poetry written by this generation were Surrealism and Existentialism. The poetry of this generation was imbued with stylistic elements such as imagery, metaphor and symbols, and reflected influences of hermeticism, mysticism, religiosity, Neo-Romanticism and Amer-Indian mythology. There was a frequent exploration of the theme of the subconscious and several of these characteristics were often present in a single author. The merits of the poetry of Francisco Matos Paoli (1915-2002) have reached beyond the shores of Puerto Rico; in 1992 he was nominated for Nobel Prize in Literature Matos renovated the poetry of the 1945 generation with two collection of poems on mystic and aesthetic concerns: Habitante del eco and Teoría del olvido, both published in 1944. Through his poetry he also denounced the problems in Puerto Rican society as is evident in Cancioneros (1970).
The Transcendentalist group was comprised of some of the most prominent poets of the 1945 Generation. According to their 1948 manifesto, they emerged as a reaction to bourgeois scientism and materialism. This movement strove to “elevate Humanity to a higher spiritual level without forgetting human reality,” propounding a kind of Christian existentialism.
Lluch Mora (1924-2006) at first revealed himself as a Neo-Romantic poet, but after the death of his son, he abandoned eroticism and turned to considerations of Death as in Del barro a Dios (1954) and the elegiac Canto desesperado a la ceniza (1955). He returned to a more optimistic poetry, reflecting his love of life, but always with a vein of pensiveness. His Canto a Yauco (1956) is from this period. Félix Franco Oppenheimer, a dense, anguished and mystic poetic voice, in his El hombre y su angustia (1950) reflects on Man, Being, and Destiny. In his later work he shows a growing religious and humanist spirit. His best work is Estas cosas así fueron.
The first poetic work published by Jorge Luis Morales (1930-1997) was Los versos de Metal y piedra (1952), of a Surrealist bent. In his later work he expressed his religiosity and offered an aesthetic reinterpretation of Nature. His Los ríos redimidos (1969) was awarded First Prize at the World Congress of Poets (Mexico, 1968). Another high point in Morales” poetic career was his Discurso a los pájaros (1966). An outstanding woman in the Generation of 1945 was Violeta López Suria (1926-1994). Her early work, published in Gotas en mayo (1953), showed an inclination towards the world of children, the minute, and the tender. Later, her poetry contemplated the complexities of the world of her psyche, and, in her maturity, she was inspired by her memories, the beauty of nature, the suffering of her homeland, God and Death. She wrote on social concerns in La piel pegada al alma and about love, in En un trigal de ausencia, Poemas de la yerma virgen, Amorosamente. Her last work was Polvorín de Santa Elena (1992). Other poets from this generation…
The craft of the playwrights of the Generation of 1945 followed on the footsteps of prominent figures inthe grand European and American theater. In the Post-War theater the influences of Neo-Naturalism, Hyper-Realism and Existentialism predominated. Besides making use of the latest technical advances o the time, Puerto Rican playwrights employed novel stage sets and lighting. Their style evolved from the social realism of the 1930s towards poetic realism. After 1958, the issue of finding a balance between national and universal culture came to the fore.
The most prominent modern local playwright was René Marqués (1919-1979). His creative complexity and maturity allowed him to master a diversity of techniques, imbuing his literary work with poetic genius and tragic force. His most important work includes La carreta, Los soles trucos and Mariana o el alba. Another prominent playwright was Francisco Arriví (1915-2007). During his first period, his work was characterized by universal concerns, as in María Soledad (1947). In his second phase, he began to address the history and collective behavior of Puerto Ricans, exploring our ethnic and cultural roots, as can be observed in pieces such as Bolero y plena (1956), Sirena (1959), and his masterpiece, Vejigantes (1958). Other playwrights of the Generation of 1945…
René Marques, the standard bearer of the Generation of 1945, wrote essays on the cultural essence and social and political situation of the island, integrating moral and ethical issues, in his Ensayos (1972), and following Pedreira”s thinking, El puertorriqueño dócil (1960). José Luis González, in El país de cuatro pisos y otros ensayos (1980) proposed that Puerto Rican society has developed into four superimposed “floors” that have integrated different cultural forces. His writing reflects a certain existential pessimism —characteristic of his generation— but he later developed a kind of optimism, which was to characterize the Generation of the 1960s.
Other essayists addressed the subject of the essence of Puerto-Ricanness from a historical perspective, including Eugenio Fernández Méndez, and from an anthropological perspective, as for example, Salvador Tió and Ricardo E. Alegría, who defined the profile and components of Puerto Rican identity on a scientific basis. Manuel álvarez Nazario (1919-2001) carried out a colossal historical and linguistic research project on the Spanish of Puerto Rico, publishing many volumes on the subject between 1957 and 1992. His purpose was to clarify the different cultural components of the language spoken on the island. The results of his research were published in Historia de la lengua española en Puerto Rico (1992), the first of its kind in the Americas. Other important essayists of this generation…
Marxist philosophy, in the wake of the Cuban Revolution, was a determining factor in the development of the leftistpolitico-literary ideology held by the new generation of Puerto Rican writers. They proposed a new aesthetic based on the philosophy of socialist intellectuals and Latin American politicized writers, and the ideas of the Latin American Boom.
The writers of the 1960s cultivated a literature of political and social commitment, engaged in the causes of Puerto Rican independence and socialism. Literature was seen as art to be created for the people as opposed to the concept of “art for art”s sake or “bourgeois art.” Writers began to desacralize language and traditional narratives and to discredit established social structures, producing a critical literature.
Poetic innovation for this generation began on the pages of Guajana, a magazine founded in 1962 by students at the University of Puerto Rico. The publication, embodied a poetic revolution, was characterized by poetry that was politicized and committed to Puerto Rican independence. The poets declared themselves to be anti-bourgeois and expressed solidarity with the working class and those who were marginalized. The Guajana group included important poets such as José Manuel Torres Santiago, Vicente Rodríguez Nietzsche, and Andrés Castro Ríos. The poetry of Hugo Margenat, nourished by Marxist aesthetics and ideology, was the touchstone for rebellious and activist verse on the island.
This generation made use of colloquial speech, street talk, and defiant language. These poets preferred free verse and the traditional Spanish forms of the décima and the copla.
Another important publication was Mester, founded in 1967. The foremost poet of this journal was Jorge María Ruscalleda Bercedóniz whose work reflects his patriotic and social concerns. In the early `970s feminist poetry of an autobiographical, confessional and testimonial nature arrived on the scene. These poets explored their inner being and their historical and social circumstances. Distancing themselves from the intimismo of the poetry of the 1930s and the Generation of 1945, they sought to convey a certain lyricism, blending the quotidian with ‘desacralizing’ and Baroque poetic language (Rosario Ferré, Fábulas de la garza desangrada). There were others whose verse is in a hermetic almost surrealist tone (El sombrero de Plata by Olga Nolla, and Razón de lucha, razón de amor de Magaly Quiñónes); criolla language fused with eroticism (María Arrillaga and Loreina Santos Silva); and mythological expression (Mili Mirabal”s Monólogos a la intemperie).
From 1971 on there was an accelerated transformation of fiction, as the new forms of the Latin American Boom were incorporated. Manuel Ramos Otero, Tomás López Ramírez, and Carmelo Rodríguez Torres were proponents of the style in Puerto Rico. In their desire to rediscover their language, this generation cultivated a linguistic rupture, employing the Baroque, Surrealism, Symbolism, Existentialism. They broke away from lineal narrative, integrating fantasy, myth, parody, humor, and music. The publication of Papeles de Pandora (1976) by Rosario Ferré (b. 1938), a journal of short stories and poems, marked a new turn for the short story as well as an affirmation of the place of women writers. Depicting the moral decay of the bourgeoisie of the country, the journal also focused on the oppression and exploitation of women who are subjected to an order of male values.
Ana Lydia Vega (b. 1946), in collaboration with Carmen Lugo Filippi, published Vírgenes y mártires (1981), a critical testimonial of daily life in Puerto Rican society, followed by her own work, Encancaranublado y otros cuentos de naufragio (1983) and Pasión de historia (1987). In her work, she makes extensive use of street talk and vulgarity, “Spanglish,” and a deliberate ugliness of expression. The language is nuanced with satire, humor, a playful tone, and the grotesqueness that characterizes her work. In her last book, Falsas crónicas del Sur (1991), she employed a cultured and poetic style, while retaining colloquial language.
Olga Nolla (1938-2001) published Por qué nos queremos tanto in 1990. These stories are similar to those of Rosario Ferré in that they focus on the milieu and problems of the bourgeoisie, but they can be differentiated by the personal style of each author. The novella by Carmelo Rodríguez Torres, Veinte siglos después del homicidio (1971), an example of the Latin American Boom in Puerto Rico, marked a renaissance for the novel in Puerto Rico. Elements of this work are the situation on the island of Vieques, the plight of black people, and myths. The language is poetic, although at times infused with vulgarity. In Este pueblo no es un manto de sonrisas (1991), Rodríguez diverged from his earlier style; the poetic vein prevails over the use of colloquial language. Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá (b.1946) introduces historic events in contemporary Puerto Rican fiction. His novels La renuncia del héroe Baltasar (1964) and La noche oscura del niño Avilés (1984) are written in a style that has been called Caribbean Baroque.
Luis Rafael Sánchez (b.1936) broke new ground in the local narrative with his La guaracha del Macho Camacho (1976), in which he used colloquial sayings, street language and vulgarity to depict social cankers, the style of feísmo. The novel is suffused with a sense of humor, varying from the lyrical to the grotesque. Other exponents of the novel in the Generation of the 1960s are:
Rosario Ferré (b. 1938) — Maldito amor and La batalla de las vírgenes — Mayra Montero, Manuel Ramos Otero, Tomás López Ramírez, Jorge M. Ruscalleda Bercedóniz, Roberto Cruz Barreto, Iris Zavala, Jaime Carrera, and Ramón Felipe Medina.
The playwrights of the Generation of the 1960s continued the current of renovation that had been established in Puerto Rico in the mid 1930s. There was a rupture with the poetic realism of earlier years, while vanguard techniques and the resources of Brechtian epic theater, Commedia dell”Arte, as well as the theater of Luigi Pirandello and the theater of the absurd were incorporated. Luis Rafael Sánchez is also the most prominent playwright of his generation. La pasión según Antígona Pérez and Quíntuples are two of the most outstanding pieces by this writer. (1984). Other writers of this generation are Myrna Casas (1963)., Jaime Carrero, Luis Torres Nadal, Walter Rodríguez, Juan González, and Jacobo Morales.
A second wave of playwrights in this generation initiate the Nuevo teatro popular puertorriqueño (New Puerto Rican Street Theater), for the purpose of heightening awareness of the conflicts that exist in Puerto Rican society. Several groups were founded, such as El tajo del alacrán, Moriviví, and Anamú, and their work was a mix of traditional and vanguard theater, grounded in the Brechtian tradition. They staged their plays in poor neighborhoods, housing projects, on the streets, in town squares, and at community centers. Prominent figures of this movement are Lydia M. González and Pedro Santaliz.
The essays of the Generation of the 1960s was openly critical of society. Under Marxist influence, cultural criollismo was emphasized, directed at a revitalization of our indigenous and African roots. In terms of literary criticism, our writers employed the criteria of historicism as well as novel concepts and theories such as those of George Lukács, Herbert Marcuse, Lucien Goldmann, and Roland Barthes.
The most prominent literary critics were Arcadio Díaz Quiñónez, José Ramón de la Torre, Rosario Ferré, Efraín Barradas, and Luis Rafael Sánchez. Other essayists of this generation have written about political and social concerns, among them, Manuel Maldonado Denis Puerto Rico: mito y realidad, both in 1969, as well as other works devoted to the study and analysis of the thought of Hostos., Juan A. Silén, and Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá. Other essayists of the Generation of the 1960s…
Emerging writers took on the obligation of denouncing, criticizing, and satirizing the social evils of the time. Anecdotes on daily life were elevated to the category of an aesthetic form.
Following the ideas of Nicanor Parra (Chilean poet), poetry was inspired by the human condition, daily life, and solidarity and commitment with our fellow man and the homeland. Poetry was identified with a love of the land, the search for a national being, and for indigenous roots. This style was forged along the lines of Neo-Romanticism. The language was of a quotidian and realist vein, direct and explicit, although not lacking a certain delicacy and depth grounded in sentiment. Certain traces of desacralization can be observed, a heritage from the previous generation.
José Luis Vega (b. 1948) — who has been acknowledged as the most outstanding poet of his generation— initiated this lyrical renewal. In a series of articles called óptica de la poesía, Vega and some of his fellow poets expressed a need to achieve a kind of poetic writing that would include all the varieties of contemporary Puerto Rican poetry. Vega”s writing has evolved from a style reflecting a Neo-Romantic influence towards a style that increasingly tends towards humanist realism, as shown in his Las natas de los párpados (1974), La naranja entera (1983) and Tiempo de bolero (1985). Other important poets of the Generation of 1975…
áurea M. Sotomayor (b. 1948); Vanessa Droz (b. 1952); Elsa Tió (b. 1951); Etnairis Rivera (b. 1949); Dalia Nieves Albert (b. 1948); Luz Ivonne Ochart (b. 1949), and Lilliana Ramos Collado (b. 1954) are some of the women in this generation.
The new narrative of the Generation of 1975 expressed the concerns of the urban middle class in the style of quotidian realism cultivated by Mario Benedetti, Carlos Martínez Moreno, and Salvador Garmendia. Another fundamental difference of this generation is their use of language, as these writers prefer a kind of middle-class style nuanced with colloquial expressions. The world depicted is the world of sub-divisions in which youth and women are the protagonists.
The most prominent figure of this generation is Magali García Ramis (b.1946), whose book of short stories La familia de todos nosotros (1976) opened up new possibilities because of the treatment of her subject. These six stories provide a collective imagery of island life in the sprawling middle-class subdivisions of modern times. Edgardo Sanabria Santaliz (b. 1951) and Juan Antonio Ramos (b. 1948) have also sought inspiration in this urban world. Other narrators of this generation…
In the novel, Magali García Ramis with her Felices días, Tío Sergio (1986) initiated a style of quotidian realism that she had made popular in short-story writing. Felices días narrates the life of a middle-class family in Santurce in the 1950s and 60s, integrating historic and immanent events. Other important novelists of this generation are Edgardo Jusino Campos (b.1951), author of Los reptiles incautos, El más azul de todos tus príncipes and Cita para la fiesta; and Juan Antonio Ramos (b. 1948), mentioned above as a short story writer, with his novel Vive y vacila (1986).
A new, deeper realism is employed in the theater of this generation, influenced by the Teatro Popular groups. Roberto Ramos Perea (b.1959) is the most outstanding an representative writer of his generation, with his Malasangre and Miénteme más. Another important figure is Carlos Canales (b.1955), author of La casa de los inmortales (1986), a piece that delves into a world of fantasy and mystery. The work deals with the theme or reincarnation, although there is not a total break from social realism. Other important playwrights are…
The essayists of the Generation of 1975 share the concerns of the previous generation: the political situation of the country, our cultural identity, the general social decomposition, class consciousness, social justice, alienation of the masses, the role of women in society, and literary criticism. A large body of work is devoted to literary analysis, notably in the work of José Luis Vega and Ramón Luis Acevedo, with Del silencio al estallido: narrativa femenina puertorriqueña (1991).
Other prominent essayists are José Ramón Meléndez, Poesíaoi: Antología de la sospecha (1978); Ivette López Jiménez, El cuento al día; Roberto Ramos Perea, Perspectiva de la nueva dramaturgia puertorriqueña (Essays on the new theater) (1989); and Edgar Heriberto Quiles Ferrer, who published Teatro puertorriqueño en acción (1990).
There are several young writers who have contributed to literary criticism: Salvador Villanueva, Reinaldo Marcos Padua, José M. Encarnación, Lilliana Ramos Collado, and Aurea María Sotomayor. Other essayists have gone beyond strictly literary considerations: Juan Flores, with Insularismo e ideología burguesa; Juan G. Gelpí, with Literatura y paternalismo en Puerto Rico; and José Luis Méndez, with Para una sociología de la literatura puertorriqueña (1983).
Essays on social and political questions were written by prominent scholars such as Yamila Azize, the author of Luchas de la mujer en Puerto Rico: 1898-1919 (1979) and Ricardo Alegría, who wrote a seminal essay on democracy and dependence (¿Democracia en la dependencia? 1982). Other authors worthy of mention are ángel G. Quintero Rivera, Patricios y plebeyos: burgueses hacendados, artesanos y obreros (1988) and Fernando Picó, who wrote Al filo del poder (1993).
The new century presages new forms, influences and voices who cultivate their literature whether in their workshops, in cyberspace or in the world of publishing.
This essays was modified to be read in electronic formatted. Was published in Historia y Cultura de Puerto Rico Desde la época pre-colombina hasta nuestros días, Alegría Ricardo y Rivera Quiñones Eladio, Fundación Francisco Carvajal, ediciones Puerto, 1999.
Author: Josefina Rivera
Published: September 15, 2014.
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