Culturalist novel: what is it, its origin, characteristics and main authors


What is the culturalist novel?

It is considered that this type of novel begins to emerge around the 1970s by a group of writers influenced by the return to past times, which is why it is considered a heterogeneous trend in which it is mixed, at the same time, with characteristics of the historical novel, of which we have already spoken in depth in another section and of which it often falls into confusion.

On the other hand, they are works in which the narrative genre, in its essence, allows the description, in this case, of environments that may well be present or timeless but are connected with the literary creation around mythological or legendary elements.

Origin of the culturalist novel

The birth of the culturalist novel takes place in the so-called social realism, a trend that in the 50’s raises the memory of the war and its consequences, incorporating a critical attitude, deals with collective characters such as the victims and the exploited, exposes situations of social injustice, among other key aspects. This will be a very important trend in the course of the decade in which other processes appear as traditional realism, for example, to give life to other emerging feelings of the communities that the authors will bring to their works.

Development of the culturalist novel

Now, regarding the process of this type of works, it is very important to consider that the authors who are going to create works of this type, aim at portraying the daily reality from the way they perceive it. It is for this reason that in the culturalist novel a variety of themes emerge, such as social injustice, the loneliness of individuals, poverty, misery, the hope of communities, among other elements that eliminate political partisanship, for example.

Added to this is the social commitment that emanates from the authors of the culturalist novel, due to the way in which they conceive literature. The authors of the culturalist novel see literature as an instrument that allows them to make denunciations. However, they will often be limited by censorship and the restriction of freedom of expression. Their stance and vision lies with those who live in the less favored sectors, raising criticisms of the wealthy class.

What is the culturalist novel

Characteristics of the culturalist novel

It is time to review the most important features of this type of texts and how they become the fundamental bases of development, which will be taken up in posterity:

Themes of the culturalist novel

One of the most important aspects of this type of texts has to do precisely with the themes in which the works are developed. In this case, we are talking about novels that recreate either literary motifs or aspects of mythology or legendary events.

Description of scenarios

Although it is typical of narrative and, in particular, of the novel genre, this type of text concentrates on the detailed description of environments that may be timeless or present, but are always in contact with the aesthetic creation of the setting of the story.

Aspects of language

The authors of this type of texts present a concern for the use of a formal language that can sometimes derive from baroque. However, it is mainly characterized by the revelation of the sensibility of the narrators, in addition to highlighting the preparation of each one of them, oriented to the search for their own style.

Main authors of the culturalist novel

Among them we can find authors such as Antonio Colinas, Álvaro Pombo, Jesús Ferrero, Álvaro del Amo, Javier Marías, Pedro Zarraluki, Juan García Hortelano, Juan Marsé, Juan Goytisolo, Luis Guytisolo, Juan Benet, Francisco Umbral, Gonzalo Torrente Ballester, among others.

Some important works of this modality are: Larga carta a Francesca by Antonio Colinas, Un año en el sur by Antonio Colinas, Opium by Jesús Ferrero, Los dominios del lobo by Javier Marías, Travesía del horizonte by Javier Marías, últimas tardes con Teresa and Si te dicen que caí by Juan Marsé, Tormenta de verano by Juan García Hortelano, among others.

Remember that to learn more about the world of Literature, as well as to learn more about other types of art in terms of its history, authors and more, in our sections you can access all this information.