Culteranism: what it is, its origin, characteristics and representative authors


What does culteranismo consist of?

It is one of the most important literary schools of the Baroque, it stands out for its distinction with conceptualism, which comes from the same period. This current is characterized by the linguistic contributions it makes, where the authors give greater importance to the form and aesthetics in which the content is presented. Some authors agree that Culteranism imitates Latin in its syntax.

What does culteranismo consist of

In this sense, they are texts in which different literary resources abound, in addition to cultisms, neologisms, modifications in the syntax, among other elements that build the work and elevate it to the aesthetic summit that its authors desired, most of them interested in the musicality in the verses.

Origin of culteranismo in literature

The emergence of this current takes place, as we mentioned, in the baroque literature during the XVI and XVII centuries. As for the origin of the word, the term comes from cult and Lutheran.

This current arises before a panorama sheltered by an important Renaissance heritage that provides a series of elements that will be worked during the following years in the literary field, where balance and harmony are the predominant axes within their texts, and that must remain both in form and in its substance. However, the need to start their own paths led many authors to break the rules of literary structure and find proposals whose premises were no longer the same.

This is how, later on, another aesthetic appeared by Luis de Góngora at a time when the Baroque allowed space for reflections on the lyric, as well as the use of poetic resources for ingenious styles, which will give rise to a poetic structure that includes structures that prioritize their forms.

Development of culteranism

It is important to bear in mind that the features that begin to consolidate culteranism broaden the horizon in the face of poetry, especially. The literary works were preceded by a search for dynamism in which the authors also hyperbolize reality and leave aside the simple language, harmony and balance that had been inherited moments before.

In this way, with these objectives in mind, the authors of culteranismo gestated neologisms, always looking for originality in their works. Likewise, puns began to be incorporated, which generated dynamism and tested the interpretation and understanding of the readers.

As for its relationship with conceptualism, it is necessary to consider that the two currents come from the same period of literature, however, they were often confronted to such an extent that they were seen as two opposing currents. The closest relationship that exists between them has to do with the fact that they both bet on the complexity in their works, as well as the overloaded style and the forms of expression.

Characteristics of culteranism

It is time to go on to review in detail the most important aspects that consolidated the bases of the literary current of the baroque, culteranismo, and how these constituted the trend that spread, making way for important authors who would later be considered authors of universal literature. Let’s see:

Themes of the works

The works of culteranismo were distinguished, among other things, by the themes that were expressed in their works. Thus, we can see that the themes that were introduced there were often related to mythology. This corresponded to the type of language they used and the different resources, since they thus created a world of idealized beauty.

Difficulty for the reader

Another feature that we can highlight of this literary current, also considered a trend of aesthetic character, has to do with the difficulty it implied for the reader, since the structure it has, as well as the construction of a complex form, made the comprehension of the content difficult.

Varied resources

One of the most important characteristics of this type of texts, is the excessive use of literary resources used to load the works. In this sense, it is possible to observe an exaggerated language in which the verses are loaded with images that call to the sensory but with a recurrent use of metaphors, epithets, ellipsis and alliterations. To this are also added other elements such as rhythmic words and the importance of sonority.

Use of metaphor

Although we have mentioned that this current used different resources for the structure of their works, metaphor was one of the most recurrent elements. This is due to the fact that culteranismo proposes that metaphor be used in the purest form from a deeply enigmatic language. In this sense, the resource allows hiding the meanings of the forms of expression that were used in different formats, such as theater and lyric poetry, which was also seen in rhetoric. In this way, the interest in taking care of the structure increased.

Syntactic complexity

Another feature that should be taken into account when evaluating this trend is that it implied a syntactic complexity, since it broke with the natural structure. In this case, the authors choose to establish dependency relations between the relations, which increases the reading and interpretative complexity.

Breaking the grammatical order

With the excessive use of literary resources such as hyperbaton, verbal games and others, a break in grammatical order is generated in the works. To this is added the introduction of latinisms that took place during the culteranismo, which, despite the fact that they were already known among the readers.

Intertextuality in the works

During this time, intertextuality was another of the key elements of creation, since direct relationships were woven between ancient and modern authors from their texts, which coincided in a level of knowledge that allowed the relationship between the texts.

Representative authors of culteranismo

Representative authors of culteranismo

Among its main authors we can see: Luis de Góngora y Argote, Juan de Tassis Peralta, Count of Villamediana, Pedro Calderón de la Barca, among others.

And as for the most representative works of what was culteranismo, titles such as: “Fábula de Polifemo y Galatea”, Las soledades, Panegírico dedicado al duque de Lerma by Góngora, Fábula de Faetón by Juan de Tassis Peralta, El gran teatro del mundo and La vida es sueño by Calderón de la Barca stand out.

Thus we end one of the most important currents during the Baroque and in which important authors that will be decisive for the continued development of world literature are gestated. Remember that if you want to know other movements, authors, avant-garde and others, in our Literature section you can find a lot of information about all its dimensions throughout history.