Literary creolism: what it is, how it arose, main characteristics, works and authors


What is literary criollismo?

Criollismo, also known as criollista literature, was a movement that arose with the intention of portraying everything related to popular customs, including the language of the people, particularly the peasants. It is said that this movement was greatly influenced by regionalist literature based on the reflection of the social and political reality of a specific area.

What is literary criollismo

In other words, we are talking about a literary movement whose main characteristic is based on the intention of reflecting a set of traditions and customs of the Creoles. This movement emerged towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century in Latin America, especially influenced by movements such as realism, from which it borrowed some elements.

How did criollo literature come about?

In order to know the origin of literary criollismo, it is necessary to start from the fact that during the colonial period the term -criollo- began to be used to refer to the sons of Spanish men who had been born in American territory. This is important because the term begins to have special importance during the time of independence, since it was used by the insurrectionists to distinguish themselves from the troops that were loyal to the king.

However, with the passage of time, the term was adopted by the Chilean identity, which associated it as a whole, relating it directly to the peasant traditions of the central region. Thus, criollismo became a literary artistic production whose main objective was the representation of the popular customs of peasants and peoples with respect to a given region. It was born towards the last decade of the 19th century and lasted until 1929 approximately. Thus, an unprecedented literary movement arose based on the natural elements not only of Chile, but of the entire American continent.

On the other hand, it is said that the first manifestations of literary criollismo are located in Cuba, where the movement emerged in parallel with romanticism, of which we have already spoken in another section, although it is important to recognize its important expansion throughout the continent.

Literary development of criollismo

Now, to review in detail aspects that build its own literature, it is necessary to mention that the movement is strongly influenced by the recent independence of the American territory. Thus, the literature of this movement will be characterized by the representation, as we mentioned, of the Creoles, through a prose with which it wishes to reflect the world and establish it as an artistic category.

Within its writing process, it is possible to identify in the works of criollo literature two particular types of languages. On the one hand, it is possible to identify a cultured and refined type of language, and on the other, a popular language that undoubtedly marks the difference between the protagonists and portrays the society of the time.

Characters of criollismo

In this literature, the characters were located in a certain region and presented a characteristic way of life, represented by a set of customs, beliefs, activities, etc.


Most of the works of criollismo were consolidated in foundational and epic works, in addition to others that were known for their manifesto of struggle against abuses against nature or against an exclusive social system.

Main characteristics of criollismo

Among its main characteristics we can identify a series of key features that we must consider when evaluating this movement and that laid the foundations of an original movement in Latin America. Among them we find the following:

Reaction to modernism

One of the characteristics, perhaps the most important of the movement, was the reaction represented by literary criollismo in its artistic production, given that it was considered as a movement opposed to modernism in which the characters remained uprooted from their territories, often adopting the mentality of foreigners, an aspect that criollismo fervently rejected.

Linguistic elements in the indigenous

Another feature that cannot be ignored is that a large part of the linguistic elements found in literary criollismo emerge from the assimilation of the indigenous language.

Analysis of society

The works of criollismo, in their intention to reflect society, included aspects such as injustices, misery, excesses of a hierarchical system, etc., which allow the reader to access a deep knowledge of the time, as well as to establish important theses about these societies.

Importance of the legends

An important aspect that we must consider of this movement in terms of its literary development, is the use and importance of the legends of the people. This type of narrations that provide so much information about a people and the territory, are of great importance and the literary criollismo delves into them.

Beyond the artistic

The authors of literary criollismo not only want their works to have an artistic purpose from the literary production, but also consider that they should be a kind of “sociological documents” since they reflect these communities and become faithful records of the historical moment and the time of the area they were talking about.

Influence of realism

Like most of the literary movements and currents, literary criollismo had an important proximity to realism. Aspects of this trend coincide, such as the descriptions of the life of the inhabitants, including blacks, Indians, peasants and gauchos. To this is added the influence received after the independence of the nations of America from the Spanish yoke.

Works of literary criollismo

Works and authors of literary criollismo

Now, as for the most important works of literary criollismo we can identify creations such as Doña Bárbara, written by Rómulo Gallegos known as the novel of the plains, there is also La Vorágine by the Colombian writer José Eustaqui Rivera, Los de abajo by the Mexican Mariano Azuela, Don Segunda Sombra by Ricardo Guiraldes,

As for the most important authors of criollismo in literature, we must mention Mario Vargas Llosa, Vicente Leñero, Mariano Latorre, Luis Manuel Urbaneja Achelpohl, Alejo Carpentier, José Jacinto Milanés, Juan Cristóbal Nápoles Fajardo, Francisco Poveda Armenteros, Juan Felipe Rodríguez, among others.

To learn more about other literary movements, genres, currents, styles and others, remember that in our Literature in Art Types section you will find a section designed for this artistic field where you will find much more information available.