Literary currents: what they are, main characteristics and most widespread trends


What are literary currents?

Although much has been discussed about the classification of literature and its different manifestations have received several terms for their grouping, one of the most accepted has been that of literary currents. Thus, literary currents are understood as a group of works whose authors also belonged to a kind of literary movement or phenomenon and, therefore, share a series of characteristics such as themes, aesthetics, style, etc.

What are literary currents

In other words, when we speak of literary currents, we also refer to a series of authors who stood out for exposing in their works realities around social, cultural or political criticism and that correspond to a moment in the history of mankind. Many of these works also respond to shared feelings and particular opinions.

Main characteristics of literary currents

One of the most important aspects, of which it is also necessary to speak, is that literary currents also coincide with other artistic expressions, particularly with other literary movements, which is why their definition has undergone several discussions.

Let us see below the most important features of literary currents and on which they have been able to develop throughout history in different areas, contexts and specific moments:

Grouping of authors

As we mentioned, literary currents also allow the grouping of authors. These groups of authors are recognized mainly because they share different aspects, for example, a place or country, a historical moment, a shared feeling or opinion, etc.

Establishment of manifestos

As well as literary movements, it is possible to identify several literary currents that have been in charge of writing manifestos through which they express the principles that unite them in a particular way, as well as the most important bases of their current, how they are formed, what their purpose is, among other distinctive elements.

Importance of the social context

One of the aspects that mostly brings together the works and authors in the literary currents is precisely the context in which they are found and where their works emerge. We will see that many literary currents are crossed by a particular historical moment, a series of elements that are part of the society of that instant, a specific generation, etc. All these are elements that facilitate their distinction and organization.

Most widespread currents

Separating them from the literary movements that were groups with a recognition, we could say, more defined, wide and diffused, it is possible to identify several phenomena that can be added within the literary currents, not for that reason less important.

Many of these currents will take decisive steps that will mark the development of this artistic expression, both in their works and expressions, as well as in the most representative figures for posterity. Among these currents we find:

Literary Tremendism

This trend emerged in the 1940s during the twentieth century after the end of the Civil War. It will develop a literary tendency that counts on a technique especially oriented to the narrative genre, particularly the novel, marked by characters with maladies of different disciplines and areas, incorporating a determining language for the exposition of scenes with severe nuances, in many cases crude.


This is another of the currents that developed during the Baroque and that owes its name fundamentally to its emphasis on concepts. Thus, it is a literary expression that is mainly interested in the meaning of words and how they relate to each other. Different authors emerge in different literary genres that will mark this current through abstract thoughts in their writing, new formulas and relationships, criticism in the works, etc.

Literary symbolism

The phenomenon took place during the second half of the 19th century in France. There, a current distinguished by the use of a language symbolized in a subtle way, where the authors will see literary writing as a possible form of expression endowed with mysticism that invites discovery. It develops mainly in poetry through symbols created by its authors and that keep hidden realities.

Golden Age

Under this term developed a current whose origin is close to the year 1492, although the date is only a frame of reference. The Golden Age marked an important period in the literary artistic field, preceded by the political strength of Spain in Latin American countries, which gave rise to a literature enriched by aspects of the time such as social transformation, religious influence, development of literary genres, among others.

Literary Rococo

Although it was a phenomenon that emerged in France around 1730, it soon began to spread throughout the European continent. It is characterized for being a current that emphasizes the festive and joyful in its literary expressions. It will include a great variety of themes for the development of joy, reason why it was qualified as a current interested in mundane aspects of the human being, since it highlights this type of elements that involve the human being directly with his daily life.

Literary Noucentisme

Also known as the Generation of 14, it was a current determined by Spanish authors that evidenced the emergence of a new intellectual posture and renewed many of the literary genres, given that it will have a more reasoning inclination, as well as highlighted other aspects related to modernization and the rejection of the previously installed sentimentalism.

Main characteristics of literary currents

Magical realism

It is one of the most important trends in the American continent, which emerged around the 1930s, although it will have several important stages. Magical realism as a literary trend was marked by the introduction of the unreal and the strange in the everyday, which was possible to see in a great variety of narrative works, especially in the novel.

Literary Parnassianism

This current was born in France and developed towards the second half of the 19th century. It is characterized by being a reaction to the poetic subjectivism that was handled, and that emphasizes mainly in the search for impersonality and defends objectivity. Other aspects such as perfection beyond romanticism and the incorporation of external themes were key for the authors.

Literary naiadism

This was a current that arose as a reaction to the predominant social system of the late 1950s in South American countries. The position defended by this current is determined by the interpretation of life and existence, also assumed as a form of social protest that proposes the revolution of several of the statutes arbitrarily established by institutions and academia.


This current is distinguished because it marks an important moment of artistic development, between the Renaissance and the Baroque. Thus, it is presented as an axis of transition in which artistic expression, in this case, in literature, different options of elaboration emerge with new forms and resources that will be applied to the texts, combining the real with the unreal, while incorporating new sensory metaphors influenced by the nearby movements.


This school takes place during the Baroque. It is distinguished because the authors emphasize the form and aesthetics on which the texts are presented, which is why texts are presented that include a large number of literary resources, including elements such as neologisms and cultisms, which increase the aesthetics to which the authors pursue. One of the great focuses of the literature of this current will be the musicality in the verses.

Literary Criollismo

It was also known as criollista literature and was characterized by portraying in his works everything related to popular customs, so that involved in writing fundamental aspects of the people. That is why among its most important characteristics we find the appearance of the language of the people, traditions and customs that reflect the reality of the peasants, mainly.

Latin American Boom

Under this term, one of the most important literary phenomena in Latin America developed in the 60’s and 70’s, marked by a look that recognizes the emergence of literature in this part of the world and its exposure and incorporation into world literature. It will have a participation in different literary genres that deal with themes often marked by their social and political identity, in addition to handling topics directly related to their reality and context.

Generation of ’27

This literary current takes place towards the 20th century and is preceded by the influence of a series of literary movements in Europe, including futurism and surrealism. They will use language in a particular way, frequently including resources such as metaphor and developing new poetic forms.

Generation of 1936

It was known as the first post-war generation in Spain. Although it is a current formed by authors of different genres, the works that are developed are distinguished by the intention of transmitting emotions and feelings directed to the source of inspiration. It is a literature qualified as natural in which the interest is centered on the human being.

Generation of 1968

This generation of authors of Spanish origin establishes a literary current that emerges during the Revolution of 1868. Under this environment, literature begins to emphasize the novel by addressing themes related to the political and social process that mediates it, as well as investigating new themes that question the set of beliefs established by the great institutions, among them the Catholic Church.

Generation of ’98

A group of writers organized by their time of birth gave birth to a new literary trend. This trend will be marked by the coincidence of intellectual interests that arose in response to the political, moral and social crisis that arose in Spain after the military defeat in the Spanish-American War. Their texts show a critical stance towards the historical moment they are going through.

To learn more about literary movements, periods of development of this artistic expression or other areas of the literary world, remember that in our section of this art you can find much more information.