Renaissance literature: what it is, how it arose and who were its representatives


What is Renaissance literature?

Another key moment in literary development was the Renaissance, a period that lasted from the 15th century to the 16th century approximately. During this period, artistic manifestations underwent a series of important changes that would be decisive for the progress in creation, which is why it is possible to speak of Renaissance literature.

What is Renaissance literature

Also known as Renaissance literature, it was all that literature that was created during the Renaissance, highlighted mainly by the intention of returning to the classical Greco-Latin culture in which a series of changes appear in the art world, but also in the philosophy and thought of the European continent. Many experts refer to Renaissance literature as a renaissance of humanism.

History of Renaissance Literature

The emergence of literature during the Renaissance had mainly an origin in the midst of a society in tension and with opposing positions in different areas of human life, which will be seen not only in religion, but also reflected in society and authorities. At the same time, knowledge continued to spread strongly throughout the regions, fostered by the idea of reducing the ignorance of the people, which is why the production of books began to grow significantly.

This process was also observed in the increase in the number of people attending the universities, who at the time were only representatives of the priestly class. Hence, many of the most outstanding writers of the time took classes in these universities, which soon began to open the possibility of admission to the masses. This expansion of knowledge caused Rome to cease to be the intellectual center, an aspect that came to fruition with the fall of the power assumed by the Catholic Church. Subsequently, scholars began to move and with them their knowledge.

Renaissance literature or Renaissance literature also developed in other areas such as Holland, Spain, Italy, Germany, Germany, England, France and Portugal.

Development of Renaissance literature

In the development as such of this artistic expression, it is necessary to mention that new genres emerged that will be decisive for posterity, among them the new forms that will handle the metric and that will include a high content of philosophy promoted by humanism. This will perhaps be one of the most important features. In addition to this, the figure of the enunciator emerges as a voice in literature, a person who is the protagonist of the work and explains the story to the reader.

In the process, it is also important to mention that a series of genres are cultivated that will take on new airs and will be worked with firmness. Among them the lyric, which will be the major genre strengthened during the period with poetry that begins to show the Italian influence, includes religious features that will later be called ascetic poetry or mystical poetry that sought to approach the sacred.

In narrative, specifically with the modern novel, the genre will be one of the most representative of the time where Cervantes’ Don Quixote stands out as an exponent work. In the essay, in prose, thoughts emerge with philosophical reflections on central and social issues of this period, highlighting the reason of the human being as an element to explain the environment guided by rationalism. And finally, in dramaturgy, the works focus on writing for performance, an inherited activity in which Shakespeare’s plays will be one of the main starting points.

Characteristics of Renaissance literature

Let’s know in detail much more of this literature from basic elements that, with the passage of time, were defining the most important features of Renaissance literature over time. Let’s see:

Main themes.

Among the main themes that Renaissance literature deals with is love and with it the beauty of both the soul and the body, thus appears the elaboration of lyric poetry with predominant love themes and tragedy. They also include the beauty of nature, classical mythology as a process of revival with characters and constant references, also the exploits of knights and heroes, among others that will appear to a much lesser extent.

Locus amoenus

This is one of the literary topics related to the idealized location, because during the Renaissance literature, nature becomes vitally important and begins to be represented with the symbol of perfection. In this way, nature takes special prominence in poetry, where it becomes the usual setting, especially in works whose main theme is love.

Decline of morality

With the force of reason, morality begins to reduce its appearance in the development of literature, which will become one of the main points of difference between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. While previously each of the writings had a function of instruction to the reader, in addition to a direct instruction to religion, the literature of the Renaissance will open the doors to the understanding of feelings and the human being.

Criticism in his writings

Another of the most important aspects of Renaissance literature that we must consider is the persistence of a critique that is not only social in the face of the injustices of society and its inequalities, but also a critique of the Church. The latter had a great force with the upheaval produced by the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, generating questions about the power of the Church at that time.

Vision of the human being

The literature developed during this period will be marked by the vision of man in the world, since it is considered that man is the center of the world seen from the anthropocentric vision. This idea contrasts with the idea defended by the medieval period and with it the medieval literature, where it is God who occupies the center of the world and the universe, the theocentric vision.

Importance of reason

Seen from the human being, reason becomes a fundamental part of artistic and literary development, since it is above faith. Thus, everything rational in its content will be taken as the main value.

Main exponents of Renaissance literature

Main exponents of Renaissance literature

Now, among some representatives and important and outstanding works during the Renaissance in what was the literary development, we can identify several authors with decisive works for their time and artistic evolution, among them we find the following: Erasmus of Rotterdam with In Praise of Folly, Thomas More with his work Utopia, Luis de Camões with The Lusiads, Torquato Tasso with Aminta, Michel de la Montaigne and his selection in Essays, Edmund Spencer with his text The Fairy Queen, Ludovico Ariosto with Orlando furioso, François Rabelais and his work Gargantua and Pantagruel, San Juan de la Cruz with Noche oscura, Baltasar Castiglione with El cortesano, Pierre Ronsard with Odas, of Anonymous author the Lazarillo de Tormes, Miguel de Cervantes and a work that will go down to posterity Don Quijote de la Mancha, William Shakespeare with his play Macbeth, among others.

Thus we end with Renaissance literature, one of the most important in the development of literature that opened the door to important works that reflect the intentions, searches and interests of the time. Remember that if you want to know more about other important moments, as well as currents, genres and more, in our section of Types of Art, in Literature, you will find much more information to continue learning.