Romanticism in Spanish literature

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Romanticism arrived late and lasted only for a short but intense period, since in the second half of the 19th century it was supplanted by Realism, whose nature was antithetical to that of Romantic literature.

Romanticism period of artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that started in 18th century Europe

Romanticism was an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical. It was partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific rationalization of nature—all components of modernity. It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography, education, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. It had a significant and complex effect on politics, with romantic thinkers influencing liberalism, radicalism, conservatism and nationalism.

Spanish Realist literature is the literature written in Spain during the second half of the 19th century, following the Realist movement which predominated in Europe.


Traditional and revolutionary Romanticism

Portrait of Lord Byron by Thomas Phillips, 1813. Lord Byron in Albanian dress.jpg
Portrait of Lord Byron by Thomas Phillips, 1813.

Romanticism is thought of as complex and confusing, with great contradictions that range from rebellious, revolutionary ideas to the return of the Catholic and monarchial tradition.[ citation needed ] With respect to political liberty, some understood it merely as the restoration of the ideological, patriotic, and religious values that the 18th century rationalists had tried to suppress.[ citation needed ] They exalted Christianity, throne, and country as supreme values. In this "traditional Romanticism" camp one would place Walter Scott in Scotland, Chateaubriand in France, and the Duke of Rivas and José Zorrilla in Spain.[ citation needed ] It was based on the ideology of the restoration of absolute monarchy in Spain, which originated after the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte, and defended the traditional values represented by Church and State. On the other hand, other Romantics, as free citizens, fought the entire established order in religion, art, and politics. They proclaimed the rights of the individual over and against society and the law.[ citation needed ] They represented "revolutionary" or "liberal" Romanticism, and their most notable members were Lord Byron, in England, Victor Hugo, in France, and José de Espronceda, in Spain. The movement's three underlying ideas were: the quest for and justification of "irrational" understanding, which reason denies, Hegelian dialectic, and historicism.

Walter Scott 18th/19th-century Scottish historical novelist, poet and playwright

Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet was a Scottish historical novelist, poet, playwright and historian. Many of his works remain classics of both English-language literature and of Scottish literature. Famous titles include Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, Old Mortality, The Lady of the Lake, Waverley, The Heart of Midlothian and The Bride of Lammermoor.

José Zorrilla Spanish poet, writer, playwright

José Zorrilla y Moral was a Spanish poet and dramatist.


Costumbrism focused on contemporary life, largely from the point of view of the "common" people, and expressed itself in pure, correct language. The principal author in the Costumbrist style was Ramón de Mesonero Romanos, situated on the margins of Romanticism, and in an ironic position in relation to it. Costumbrism, born out of Romanticism, but as a manifestation of nostalgia for the values and customs of the past, contributed to the decadence of the Romantic movement and the rise of Realism, as it became bourgeois and turned into a style of description.

Ramón de Mesonero Romanos Spanish writer

Ramón de Mesonero Romanos was a Spanish prose writer who was born in Madrid.

Historic context

The Romantic period encompasses the first half of the 19th century, a time of high political tension. [ citation needed ]The conservatives defended their privileges, but the liberals and progressives fought to supplant them. [ citation needed ]This opened the way for the laity and Freemasonry to enjoy great influence. [ citation needed ]Traditional Catholic thought defended itself against the freethinkers and the followers of the German philosopher Karl C. F. Krause.[ citation needed ] The working class unleashed protest movements with anarchist and socialist tendencies, accompanied by strikes and violence. While Europe experienced significant industrial development and cultural enrichment, Spain presented the image of a somewhat backward country that was always apart from the rest of Europe.

Karl Christian Friedrich Krause German philosopher

Karl Christian Friedrich Krause was a German philosopher, born at Eisenberg, in Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. His philosophy, known as "Krausism", was very influential in Restoration Spain.

Characteristics of Romanticism

Neoclassicism Western art movements that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome

Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of classical antiquity. Neoclassicism was born in Rome largely thanks to the writings of Johann Joachim Winckelmann, at the time of the rediscovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum, but its popularity spread all over Europe as a generation of European art students finished their Grand Tour and returned from Italy to their home countries with newly rediscovered Greco-Roman ideals. The main Neoclassical movement coincided with the 18th-century Age of Enlightenment, and continued into the early 19th century, laterally competing with Romanticism. In architecture, the style continued throughout the 19th, 20th and up to the 21st century.

Painting by Caspar David Friedrich. Caspar David Friedrich - Wanderer above the sea of fog.jpg
Painting by Caspar David Friedrich.
Mariano José de Larra Spanish romantic writer

Mariano José de Larra was a Spanish romantic writer and journalist best known for his numerous essays and his infamous suicide. His works were often satirical and critical of the 19th-century Spanish society, and focused on both the politics and customs of his time.

Middle Ages Period of European history from the 5th to the 15th century

In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.

Renaissance European cultural period, 14th to 17th century

The Renaissance was a period in European history marking the transition from the Middle Ages to Modernity and covering the 15th and 16th centuries. In addition to the standard periodization, proponents of a long Renaissance put its beginning in the 14th century and its end in the 17th century. The traditional view focuses more on the early modern aspects of the Renaissance and argues that it was a break from the past, but many historians today focus more on its medieval aspects and argue that it was an extension of the Middle Ages.


Romanticism came to Spain through Andalusia and Catalonia.

In Andalucía, the Prussian consul in Cádiz, Juan Nicolás Böhl de Faber, father of novelist Fernán Caballero, published a series of articles between 1818 and 1819 in the Diario Mercantil (Mercantile Daily) of Cádiz, in which he defended Spanish theatre of the Siglo de Oro, and was widely attacked by the neo-Classicists. Against him were José Joaquín de Mora and Antonio Alcalá Galiano, who argued from a traditionalist, antiliberal, and absolutist point of view. Böhl de Faber's ideas were incompatible with theirs (since they were still tied to the Age of Enlightenment), despite the fact that they represented European Literary Modernism.

In Catalonia, El Europeo was a journal published in Barcelona from 1823 to 1824 by two Italian editors, one Englishman, and the young Catalans Bonaventura Carles Aribau and Ramón López Soler. This publication defended moderate traditionalist Romanticism following Böhl's example, totally rejecting the virtues of Neo-Classicism. An exposition of the Romantic ideology appeared for the first time in its pages, in an article by Luigi Monteggia, titled Romanticismo.


Sculpture dedicated to Becquer in Sevilla. Gustavo Adolfo breaker.jpg
Sculpture dedicated to Bécquer in Sevilla.

The romantic poets created their works in the midst of a fury of emotions, forming verses out of whatever they felt or thought. Critics have found in their works a lyricism of great power, but at the same time vulgar, uninspiring verse.jilipollas eres tu

Some of the characteristics of Romantic poetry are:

It was also a sign that a new spirit was inspiring the creation of verse. By contrast with the monotonous neoclassic repetition of songs and lyrics, poets proclaimed their right to use all existing variations on meter, to adapt those from other languages, and to innovate where necessary. In this respect, as in others, Romanticism prefigured the modernist audacities of the end of the century.

José de Espronceda

Jose de Espronceda Jose de Espronceda.jpg
José de Espronceda

Espronceda was born in 1808 in Pajares de la Vega, located near Almendralejo, Badajoz. He founded the secret society of Los numantinos, whose aim was to "demolish the absolutist government". Because of his involvement with this society, Espronceda was imprisoned. At age 18 he fled to Lisbon and joined with a group of liberal exiles. There he met Teresa Mancha, the woman with whom he lived in London. After an act of political agitation, he returned to Spain in 1833. He lived a dissipated life, full of incidents and adventures, which caused Teresa Mancha to leave him in 1838. He was at the point of marrying another lover, when in 1842 he died in Madrid.

Batallas, tempestades, amoríos,
por mar y tierra, lances, descripciones
de campos y ciudades, desafíos
y el desastre y furor de las pasiones,
goces, dichas, aciertos, desvaríos,
con algunas morales reflexiones
acerca de la vida y de la muerte,
de mi propia cosecha, que es mi fuerte.
Battles, tempests, love affairs,
by sea and land, deeds, descriptions
of countryside and cities, challenges
and the disaster and furor of passions,
enjoyments, happiness, successes, deliriums,
with some moral reflections
about life, death, and
my forte: My own personal harvest.

Espronceda worked in the principal literary genres, such as the historical novel, with Sancho Saldaña o El castellano de Cuéllar (1834), and the epic poem, with El Pelayo, but his most important work was his poetry. He published Poesías in 1840 after returning from exile. It is a collection of poems of different types, which brings together his youthful neoclassic poems with other, more intense, Romantic works. These last were the most important, and elevated marginalized types: Canción del pirata (Song of the Pirate), El verdugo (The Executioner), El mendigo (The Beggar), and Canto del cosaco (Song of the Cossack). His most important works were El estudiante de Salamanca (1839) and El diablo mundo:

Other poets

Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda.jpg
Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda
Carolina Coronado Carolina Coronado, por Federico de Madrazo.jpg
Carolina Coronado

In spite of the brief period during which romantic lyric poetry thrived in Spain, there arose other notable poets who deserve mention, such as the Barcelonan Juan Arolas (1805–1873), the Galician Nicomedes Pastor Díaz (1811–1863), Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda (1814–1873) and Pablo Piferrer (1818–1848). Piferrer, in spite of writing only in Spanish, was one of the precursors of the romantic movement in Catalonia.

Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda

Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda y Arteaga (March 23, 1814 – Madrid February 1, 1873) was a Cuban writer and poet of the 19th century. Although Cuban, she lived most of her life in Spain. She wrote various poems, plays, and novels. Her most famous work is an antislavery novel called Sab (novel).

Carolina Coronado

Carolina Coronado (Almendralejo, 1823–Lisbon, 1911) merits special mention. She spent a great part of her childhood in the Extremaduran countryside, and from a very young age showed a talent for poetry. She married an American diplomat and lived in various foreign countries. Family misfortune prompted her to seek solitude and retreat in Lisbon, where she died in 1911. Her most important work is Poesías (1852).


During the Romantic period, there was a great interest in literary fiction, in particular, adventure and mystery novels; however, Spanish output of this type was scanty, limited to translations of foreign novels. More than a thousand translations circulated in Spain before 1850, in the historic, romantic, chivalrous, and melodramatic genres, representing writers such as Alexandre Dumas, père, Chateaubriand, Walter Scott, and Victor Hugo. Spanish prose essentially consisted of the novel, scientific or scholarly prose, journalism, and the intense development of costumbrismo.

During the first quarter of the century, four distinct types of novels developed: moral and educative novels, romances, horror stories, and anticlerical novels. The most purely Romantic of these is the anticlerical novel. However, the Romantic influence would shape, principally, the historical novel.

Historical novels

The historical novel developed in imitation of Walter Scott (80 of his works had been translated), author of Waverley , Ivanhoe , and other novels of adventure set in the Scottish and English past. Spanish historical novels fall into two categories: liberal and moderate. Within the liberal school existed both anti-clerical and populist currents. On the other hand, the moderate school produced, on occasion, novels exalting traditional and Catholic values. The most notable Spanish authors are:

Scholarly writing

The majority of these works originated from the discussions in the assembly that adopted the Constitution of Cádiz. The most representative authors were Juan Donoso Cortés (1809 † 1853) and Jaime Balmes Urpía (1810 † 1848):

Costumbrist vignettes

Between 1820 and 1870, Spain developed the literatura costumbrista (literature of manners), which manifested itself in the cuadro de costumbres, or vignette of everyday life, a short prose article. These works were normally restricted to descriptive text, keeping argument to a minimum. They described the lifestyle of the era, a popular custom, or a personal stereotype. In many cases (as in the articles of Larra), the articles contain considerable satire.

Costumbrismo (or costumbrism ) arose out of the Romantic desire to emphasize the different and the peculiar, inspired by the French affinity for the same genre. Thousands of articles of this type were published, thus limiting the development of the novel in Spain, since narration and individual characters predominated in that genre, while costumbrist vignettes were limited to generic descriptions of personality types (bullfighter, chestnut seller, water carrier, etc.). Large anthologies of such vignettes were compiled, such as Los españoles pintados por sí mismos (Spaniards painted by themselves), (published in two volumes in 1843–1844, reprinted in one volume in 1851). Notable authors represented in this work are the madrileño Ramón de Mesonero Romanos and the Andalusian Serafín Estébanez Calderón.

Ramón de Mesonero Romanos

Ramón Mesonero Romanos (1803–1882) was born and died in Madrid. He belonged to the Spanish Academy and was a gentle bourgeois. His ideas were anti-Romantic and he was a great observer of the life around him. He was famous under the pseudonym El curioso parlante (The talking bystander).

His principal literary production was in the costombrist tradition; however, he wrote Memorias de un setentón (Memories of a 70-year-old), an allusion to the people and events he knew between 1808 and 1850. His costumbrist works were collected in the volumes Panorama matritense and Escenas matritenses.

Serafín Estébanez Calderón

Calderón (1799–1867) was born in Málaga and died in Madrid. He was known as El solitario (The solitary one), and held high political office. Though known for his conservatism, in his youth he was a liberal. He published various poems and a historical novel, Cristianos y moriscos (Christians and Moors), though his most famous work is a collection of costumbrist vignettes Escenas analuzas (Andalucían scenes) (1848), containing descriptions such as El bolero, La feria de Mairena, Un baile en Triana, and Los Filósofos del figón.

Journalism: Mariano José de Larra

Mariano Jose de Larra Mariano Jose de Larra (Museo nacional del Romanticismo de Madrid).JPG
Mariano José de Larra

Throughout the 19th century, the role of the newspaper is decisive. The Barcelona publication El Europeo (The European) (1823–1824) published articles about romanticism and, through the publication, Spain came to know the names of Byron, Schiller and Walter Scott. However, the press was also an arm of the political fight. In this sense, we must emphasize the political satire press of Trienio Liberal (El Zurriago, La Manopla), where there appeared not only social themes, but also customism outlines which were clear precedents of Larra's production.

After the death of Fernando VII in 1833, many important changes occurred in journalism. The emigrants after the absolutist reaction of 1823 returned and together with the new generation (that of José de Espronceda and Larra) they would mark the style of the era, though they had learned much in their years of exile from the advanced presses of the English and the French. In 1836, the French Girardin initiated in his newspaper La Presse a custom which would have a staggering and lasting success: that of publishing novels by delivery. The Spanish press, always with their eyes on the press of their neighbors, hurried to copy this initiative; however, the height of this era in Spain would be between 1845 and 1855.

Mariano José de Larra, El pobrecito hablador (The poor little talker) Mariano José de Larra (Madrid, 1809 † id., 1837), son of a liberal exile, soon conquered fame as a journalist. His character was less than agreeable. Mesonero Romanos, his friend, spoke of "his innate mordacidad, which carried few sympathies". At twenty he married, but the marriage failed. With total success as a writer, at 27 years of age, Larra committed suicide with a pistol to the head, it seems, for a woman with whom he maintained an illicit love affair.

Though Larra is famous for his newspaper works, he also worked in other genres, like poetry, short neoclassics and satire (Sátira contra los vicios de la corte, or "Satire against the vices of the court"); the theatre, with the historical tragedy Macías; and finally, the historical novel, with El doncel de don Enrique el Doliente, about a Gallego troubador who kills a husband blinded by jealousy.

Larra's Newspaper Articles

Larra wrote more than 200 articles, behind the façade of diverse pseudonyms: Andrés Niporesas, El pobrecito hablador and above all, Fígaro. His works can be divided into three groups: customs, literary articles y political articles.


Neo-classical theatre did not manage to have much effect on Spanish tastes. At the beginning of the 19th century, works from the Siglo de Oro became popular. These works were disdained by the neo-Classicists for not following the rule of three parts (action, place, and time) and for mixing comic and dramatic aspects. Nevertheless, these works were successful outside Spain, precisely because they did not conform to the neo-Classical ideal.

Romanticism triumphed in the Spanish theatre with La conjuración de Venecia (The Venetian Conspiracy), by Francisco Martínez de la Rosa, El Trovador (The Troubador), by Antonio García Gutiérrez, and Los amantes de Teruel (The Lovers of Teruel), by Juan Eugenio Hartzenbusch. But the key event was in 1835, when Don Álvaro o la fuerza del sino (Don Álvaro, or the Power of Fate), by the Duke of Rivas, had its premiere.

Drama was the most developed of the theatrical genres. All works contained lyrical, dramatic, and fantastical elements. Freedom ruled in all aspects of the theatre:

Ángel de Saavedra, Duke of Rivas

Angel de Saavedra, Duke of Rivas DuquedeRivas.jpg
Ángel de Saavedra, Duke of Rivas

Ángel de Saavedra y Ramírez de Baquedano (Córdoba, 1791 † Madrid, 1865) struggled against the French invasion as a young man and gained political prominence as a progressivist. He was condemned to death for his liberal views but managed to escape to England.

In Malta he met an English critic who taught him to appreciate Classical theater and set the stage for him to become a Romantic. He lived in France during his exile, and returned to Spain a decade later in 1834. By his return, the Neo-classical liberal had morphed into a Romantic and moderate liberal. [1] [2]

Ángel de Saavedra held a number of important public posts. Like many contemporary writers, he began by adopting a neo-classical aesthetic in the lyrical (Poesías, 1874) and dramatic genres (Lanuza, 1822). He gradually incorporated Romantic elements into his work as can be seen in works like El desterrado. His conversion became complete in Romances históricos.

Rivas' fame is largely based on his work Leyendas and especially Don Álvaro o la fuerza del sino, a play which premiered in the Teatro del Príncipe (the modern-day Teatro Español) in Madrid in 1835. 1,300 spectatores attended and witnessed the first Spanish Romantic drama, featuring such novelties as combining prose and verse.

José Zorrilla

Jose Zorrilla Jzorrilla.jpg
José Zorrilla

Born in Valladolid, 1817 and died in Madrid, in 1893. He started his career in literature by reading verses at the funeral of Larra, with which he earned great fame. He married a widow sixteen years younger than him, but the marriage failed and, fleeing from her, he went to France and then to Mexico in 1855, where the emperor Maximiliano named him director of the National Theater. Upon returning to Spain in 1866 he was greeted with enthusiasm. He married again and, with constant monetary penuries, he had no other remedy but to sell his works unprofitably, like Don Juan Tenorio. The courts granted him a pension in 1886.


The literature of Zorrilla is prolific. His poetry reaches a zenith with Readings, which are small dramas sung as narration in verse. The most important of these readings are Margarita la Tornera and To a good judge, a better witness.

However, his recognition is owed more to his dramatic works. Dramas that stand out include The Shoemaker and the King, about the death of the king don Pedro; Traitor, Confessor, and Martyr, about the famous baker of Madrigal, which came to pass by way of don Sebastián, king of Portugal; Don Juan Tenorio (1844), the most famous of his works, represents a tradition in many Spanish cities at the beginning of November. It discusses the theme of the famous joker of Seville, written about previously by Tirso de Molina (17th century) and other national and foreign authors.

Other authors

Francisco Martínez de la Rosa, escritor de transición (Writer of transition)

Martínez de la Rosa (1787 † 1862), born in Granada. As a politician, he intervened fervently in the Cortes de Cádiz. Because of his liberal ideals, he suffered the pain of imprisonment. He emigrated to France and was named chief of the government in 1833 on his return to Spain. His politics of "right means" failed among the extremists on the left and the right. His contemporaries gave him the nickname "Rosita la pastelera" (Rosita the baker), though he had been imprisoned, exiled and attacked in his fight for a much-desired freedom.

His first works are full of neoclassicism, such as La niña en casa y la madre en la máscara ("The girl in the house and the mother in the mask"). Later, as he began to practice "right means", adopting the new, latent aesthetic, he wrote his most important works: Aben Humeya y La conjuración de Venecia ("The conspiracy of Venice").

Antonio García Gutiérrez

Gutiérrez was born in Chiclana, Cádiz, in 1813 and died in Madrid, in 1884. From an artisan family, he dedicated himself to words and, short on resources, enlisted in the army. In 1836 he released El trovador ("The troubador"), a work which evoked an enthusiastic response from the public, though it obligated him to bid farewell to his current situation, instituting in Spain an effective custom from France. Thanks to his success he could rise above the economic difficulties with which he lived. On the explosion of the "Gloriosa", he joined with the revolutionaries, with a hymn against the Borbones that became very popular.

Juan Eugenio Hartzenbusch

Hartzenbusch was born and died in Madrid (1806–1880). Son of a German cabinetmaker and an Analucian mother, he dedicated himself at first to his father's profession, but later consecrated himself to the theatre, where he obtained rotund success with his most famous work, Los amantes de Teruel ("The lovers of Teruel") (1837). He continued to publish stories, poems and custombrist articles.

Manuel Bretón de los Herreros

Herreros was born in Quel, Logroño, in 1796 and died in Madrid, in 1873. He accepted his literary fate at a very young age, with works like A la vejez viruelas ("To the ancient smallpox"), Muérete y verás ("Die and you will see") and El pelo de la dehesa ("The hair of the grove"). He satirized Romanticism, though some of its characteristics appear in his comedies, as in Muérete y verás.


During the second half of the nineteenth century, the movement's pre-existing interests in history and legend entered a new stage, and poetry became more sentimental and intimate. This change was due to the influence of German poetry and a renewed popular interest in Spanish poetry. The Postromantic school departed significantly from its other European contemporaries, with the exception of Heinrich Heine's German poetry.

Poetry continued to be Romantic, while prose and theater adhered more to Realism. Romantic poetry slowly lost some of its popularity due to its concentration on emotive forces. Narration declined in favor of lyricism, and poems became more personal and intimate. Rhetoric became more scarce as lyricism increased, and common themes were love and passion for the world in all of its beauty. Romantics began to experiment with new metric forms and rhythms. The homogeneity that the Romance movement enjoyed was transformed into a plurality of poetic ideas. In sum, post-Romanticism represented a transition between the Romanticism and Realism.

The most well-known poets of this period were Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, Augusto Ferrán, and Rosalía de Castro. They were not particularly well received in their contemporary society, the utilitarian and unidealistic Restoration, and were admired much less than writers who chose contemporary social themes like Ramón de Campoamor and Gaspar Núñez de Arce, though the latters have little critical relevance.

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer

Gustavo Adolfo Becquer Becquer.jpg
Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer

Born in Seville in 1836, Bécquer was orphaned and raised by his godmother. He dreamed of becoming a sailor but found his calling as a writer. At 18 years of age he moved to Madrid where he suffered hardships while trying to achieve literary success. At 21 he contracted tuberculosis which would eventually carry him to the grave. He fell desperately in love with Elisa Guillén, and she returned his affections, but the couple soon separated in a taxing process for the poet. In 1861 he married Casta Esteban and worked as a columnist with a politically conservative slant. He later secured a monthly income of 500 pesetas (a large sum for the time) while working as a novel critic, but he lost the job in the revolution of 1868. He separated from his not-so-faithful wife, became disillusioned and lived a dirty and Bohemian lifestyle. In 1870 his inseparable companion and brother Valeriano died. Bécquer reconciled with Casta but died months later in 1870 in Madrid and was buried along with his brother in Seville.

Bécquer's prose work is contained within Leyendas, a work of twenty-one stories that are dominated by themes of mystery and the afterlife in true Romantic fashion. He also wrote Cartas desde mi celda, a collection of chronicles composed during his stay at the Veruela monastery. In a similar manner, all of Bécquer's poetry is collected in Rimas. The 79 poems are short, have 2,3, or 4 stanzas (with rare exceptions), generally employ assonant rhyme, and are written in free verse.

Rosalía de Castro

Born in Santiago de Compostela in 1837, de Castro was the bastard child of unmarried lovers, a fact that caused an incurable bitterness in her. While living in Madrid she met and later married the Galician historian Manuel Murguía. The couple lived in various places throughout Castile, but Rosalía never felt tied to the region and ultimately managed to settle the family in Galicia. The marriage was not happy and the couple underwent economic hardship as they raised six children. She died of cancer in Iria Flavia in 1885, and her remains were buried at Santiago de Compostela, a suitable site for a lover of Galicia.

Though de Castro was not prolific in prose, she achieved notoriety with El caballero de las botas azules (The blue-booted cavalier) which had a philosophical and satirical bent. She is mostly recognized for her poetic contributions to Spanish literature. Her first books, La flor (The Flower, 1857) and A mi madre (To My Mother, 1863) possess some Romantic characteristics with Esproncedian verses. Her three most memorable works are:

Airiños, airiños aires,
airiños da miña terra;
airiños, airiños aires,
airiños, levaime a ela.
She also vented her anger toward Castile, which she considered an exploiter of the poor laboring Galicians:
Premita Dios, castellanos,
castellanos que aborrezco,
qu'antes os gallegos morran
qu'ir a pedirvos sustento.
Aquelas risas sin fin,
aquel brincar sin dolor,
aquela louca alegría,
¿por qué acabóu?

Antiromantic poets

These poets could also be considered adherents of Realism, given the decline of the Romantic movement and their contrary posture toward it.

Ramón de Campoamor

(Navia, Asturias, 1817 Madrid, 1901), an ideological moderate, was a governor and parliamentarian. In his book Poética, he stated his intention to arrive at an "art of ideas". In this way, a poem would have a clearly defined argument. He also tried to fulfill such ideas in the Humoradas, in the Doloras, and in the Pequeños poemas. The humoradas ("witticisms") were short poems written for the albums and fans of his friends. One of them goes:

En este mundo traidor
nada es verdad ni mentira;
todo es según el color
del cristal con que se mira.
In this treacherous world
nothing is either truth or lie;
everything depends on the color
of the crystal that one looks through.

The doloras had philosophical ambitions, as in ¡Quién supiera escribir! (Who knew how to write) and El gaitero de Gijón (The piper of Gijón). In Pequeños poemas, (Short poems), 31 brief compositions, Campoamor describes the trivialities of the soul of woman, as in El tren expreso (The Express Train). Modernist thinking considers Campoamor as a symbol of the anti-poet, because of coarse, banal thinking such as this.

Gaspar Núñez de Arce

(Valladolid, 1834 Madrid 1903). He was also a governor and parliamentarian, and a minister as well. He wrote the play El haz de leña (The bundle of firewood), whose plot deals with the mysterious death of don Carlos, son of King Philip II of Spain. His most notable poetical works are La última lamentación de lord Byron (The last lamentation of Lord Byron), a long soliloquy on the miseries of the world, the existence of a superior, omnipotent being, politics, etc., and La visión de Fray Martín (The vision of Friar Martin), in which Núñez de Arce portrays Martin Luther contemplating, from a rock, the nations that followed in his wake.

See also

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Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda Cuban playwright and poet

Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda y Arteaga was a 19th-century Cuban-born Spanish writer. Born in Puerto Príncipe, she lived in Cuba until she was 22. Her family moved to Spain in 1836, where she started writing as La Peregrina, and she lived there until 1859, when she moved back to Cuba with her second husband until his death in 1863, after which she moved back to Spain. She died in Madrid in 1873 from diabetes at the age of 59.

Spanish literature generally refers to literature written in the Spanish language within the territory that presently constitutes the Kingdom of Spain. Its development coincides and frequently intersects with that of other literary traditions from regions within the same territory, particularly Catalan literature, Galician intersects as well with Latin, Jewish, and Arabic literary traditions of the Iberian peninsula. The literature of Spanish America is an important branch of Spanish literature, with its own particular characteristics dating back to the earliest years of Spain’s conquest of the Americas.

José de Espronceda 19th-century Spanish poet

José Ignacio Javier Oriol Encarnación de Espronceda y Delgado was a Romantic Spanish poet, one of the most representative authors of the 19th century. He was influenced by Eugenio de Ochoa, Federico Madrazo, Alfred Tennyson, Richard Chenevix Trench and Diego de Alvear.

<i>Costumbrismo</i> art movement

Costumbrismo is the literary or pictorial interpretation of local everyday life, mannerisms, and customs, primarily in the Hispanic scene, and particularly in the 19th century. Costumbrismo is related both to artistic realism and to Romanticism, sharing the Romantic interest in expression as against simple representation and the romantic and realist focus on precise representation of particular times and places, rather than of humanity in the abstract. It is often satiric and even moralizing, but unlike mainstream realism does not usually offer or even imply any particular analysis of the society it depicts. When not satiric, its approach to quaint folkloric detail often has a romanticizing aspect.

Manuel Murguía Spanish writer

Manuel Antonio Martínez Murguía was a Galician journalist and historian who created the Real Academia Galega. He was one of the main figures in Galician Rexurdimento movement. He is also remembered as Rosalía de Castro's husband, publisher and main supporter.

Carolina Coronado Spanish writer

Victoria Carolina Coronado y Romero de Tejada was a Spanish author considered the equivalent of contemporary Romantic authors like Rosalía de Castro. She became so popular as to merit the title "the female Bécquer."

Juan Nicolás Böhl de Faber German scholar

Juan Nicolás Böhl de Faber was a German bibliophile and lover of Spanish literature and culture. He was the father of Spanish/Swiss novelist Cecilia Böhl de Faber, aka "Fernán Caballero".

Francisco Acebal Novelist, playwright, journalist

Francisco López Acebal was a Spanish novelist, playwright and journalist.

Eusebio Asquerino (1822–1892) was a Spanish poet and playwright of the romantic era.

Chilean literature

Chilean literature refers to all written or literary work produced in Chile or by Chilean writers. The literature of Chile is usually written in Spanish. Chile has a rich literary tradition and has been home to two Nobel prize winners, the poets Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda. It has also seen three winners of the Miguel de Cervantes Prize, considered one of the most important Spanish language literature prizes: the novelist, journalist and diplomat Jorge Edwards (1998), and the poets Gonzalo Rojas (2003) and Nicanor Parra (2011).

Luis Mariano de Larra y Wetoret was a Spanish writer, son of journalist Mariano José de Larra. Noted as the librettist of numerous zarzuelas such as El Toro y el Tigre,Un embuste y una boda,Todo con raptos,El cuello de la camisa, con el Sr. Suricalday amongst others, his most famous work is undoubtedly El barberillo de Lavapiés (1874), set to music by Francisco Asenjo Barbieri.

Diego Martínez Torrón is a professor of Spanish Literature at the University of Córdoba, Spain, and a writer, author of essays, poetry and novels. He has been a speaker at many of the major universities in Europe and the United States. A specialist in nineteenth and twentieth century Spanish literature he has published numerous books on Spanish Romanticism, with interpretive contributions and unpublished texts. He has edited the most faithful edition of the complete works of authors such as José de Espronceda and the Duque de Rivas. He has also written about Lista and Quintana and the work of Spanish progressive liberals from the early nineteenth century to the end of the period of Romanticism. He has studied the poetic thought of Juan Ramón, Octavio Paz and José Bergamin. He has also dedicated numerous studies to the works of Cervantes. He has studied the narrative of Álvaro Cunqueiro, Juan Benet, Azorín and has a book pending publication about Valle-Inclán. His concept of literary methodology stems from a new, non-Marxist approach to the binomial ideology and literature.

María Josefa Mujía Bolivian poet

María Josefa Mujía (1812–1888) was a Bolivian poet. Blind from the age of 14, she was one of Bolivia's first Romantic poets and is considered the country's first woman writer following its independence. Her poetry was lauded for its sincerity and lyricism, while its dark and sorrowful content earned her the moniker "la Alondra del dolor".

Lourdes Ortiz is a Spanish writer of novels, plays, poems and essays. She has worked for several different newspapers and magazines, including El País, El Mundo, and Diario 16, mainly focusing on social and political topics.

Literary Costumbrismo is the manifestation of the artistic movement known as Costumbrismo in literature had since the XIX century and it reflects the uses and social customs, frequently without analyzing them, nor interpreting in a critical way, that attitude has to do more to the so called literary realism. In its most popular and not highly intellectual slope, it only includes the description of the most apparent and colorist matter of the daily life. Appearing in prose and hardly ever in the verses, it reached its peak with the novel of manners and in the minor genre called custom picture in the journalism sector. In relation to the theater, by its own part, it created the comedy of manners and sainete., as a continuation of the so called entremés.

Carlism in literature

On March 21, 1890, at a conference dedicated to the siege of Bilbao during the last civil war, Miguel de Unamuno delivered a lecture titled La última guerra carlista como materia poética. It was probably the first ever attempt to examine the Carlist motive in literature, as for the previous 57 years the subject had been increasingly present in poetry, drama and novel. However, it remains paradoxical that when Unamuno was offering his analysis, the period of great Carlist role in letters was just about to begin. It lasted for some quarter of a century, as until the late 1910s Carlism remained a key theme of numerous monumental works of Spanish literature. Afterwards it lost its appeal as a literary motive, still later reduced to instrumental role during Francoism. Today it enjoys some popularity, though no longer as catalyst of paramount cultural or political discourse; its role is mostly to provide exotic, historical, romantic and sometimes mysterious setting.


  1. García Castañeda, Salvador (1987). Romances históricos. Madrid: Cátedra. p. 99.
  2. Díaz Larios, Luis F. (2001). "Notas para una poética del cuento romántico en verso (con algunos ejemplos)". Scriptura. 16: 9–23.