Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Costa Rican Literature

Hello dear Readers,

Hope you all are having a great week.

Today's post is to talk a little bit about Costa Rican Literature.

As you may have seen on my bio, I am from Costa Rica. Even though, I did not like reading when I was growing up as much as I do now, during my years in school, high school, and college, reading was part of my daily life. Costa Rican literature was a key part of our reading. From children books to poetry books, novels, short stories. Books which represent our culture, our customs and traditions, the way we live, the places we are surrounded by, all this described through the eyes and words of our most memorable and influential authors, writers, people who was/is involved in every aspect of our country: politics, education, economy, agriculture, music, film industry, television, newspapers, sports, arts, religion, food, fashion, crime, violence, how people interact in their neighborhoods, what being a "tico" means.

Costa Rican literature has its roots in colonization and has been characterized by European influences. Not an old literary tradition, however, the amount of writers, authors, and works is significantly. This history dates to the end of the 19th century.

As many other countries, the Costa Rican literature went through different periods, phases, each of them with their own outstanding books, stories, writers.

Five main periods or "generations", as we usually call them.

1890-1920: The Olympus Generation

Liberal oligarchic state model. Writing influenced by what the authors thought and saw in their daily lives. Costa Rica on its process of formation, government transformation, consolidating our national identity, consciousness as a nation in progress.

Some of the writers representing this generation:

  • Manuel de Jesús Jiménez
  • Roberto Brenes Mesén
  • Aquileo Echeverría
  • Pío Víquez

1920-1940: The Repertory Generation

During this period of time, the liberal oligarchic state suffered a crisis which brings to our literature new forms of language such as humor, parody, satire and grotesque style. Writers on this period used words as a way to critic and judge the crisis the country was going through.

Some of the writers representing this generation:
  • Carmen Lyra (Book: En Una Silla de Ruedas/In a Wheelchair)
  • Joaquín García Monge

1940-1960: The 40s Generation

During this period of our history as an independent country, social democracy was implemented. Big social reforms and a new meaning of Costa Rica as a country. A period of change, and literature was not the exception. New topics were shown using words such as social problems, land distribution, social welfare, the arrival of companies from another countries, the so called "transnationals", differences between the rich and the poor.

Some of the writers representing this generation:
  • Isaac Felipe Azofeifa
  • Carlos Luis Fallas (Book: Mamita Yunai)
  • Fabián Dobles
  • Joaquín Gutiérrez (Book: Puerto Limón)
  • Yolanda Oreamuno
  • Julián Marchena
  • Carlos Salazar Herrera

1960-1980: The Urban Generation

A different Costa Rica, where modernization and industrialization took place. The main topic in literature, the city, living in the city. This was the theme presented in most pieces of work

Some of the writers representing this generation:
  • Julieta Dobles
  • Jorge Debravo
  • Alberto Cañas

1980-present: The Generation of disenchantment

Realism has been abandoned. New forms and writing styles began however, politics still present, still read.


Speaking of history, some of the basic aspects of Costa Rican Literature include the necessity of our writers to show through their work our identity as a nation. How all this process from a nation of farmers and people working on the coffee and banana plantations to what the city, the railroad, companies from another countries being established and all the social and welfare reform took place in Costa Rica. Another aspect is the fact politics always have influenced literature and education,, basically because of the model of state provided by our politicians.

Modernism was not present in the very beginning of our literary history, however, in early 1920s, this changed and we could see a major presence of modernism, specially with poetry. Writers laid aside the European influences and started to deal or face the reality of our country.

Other movements are the Circle of Poets founded in the early 1960s by Jorge Debravo. The 1970s movement, where we have authors criticizing politics after the civil war of 1948 and finally, the Avant-garde movement, a group of poets in the 1930s-1940s, in which we have the avant-gardism in the visual arts.

Some of the Major Costa Rican Writers and their work

  • Carmen Lyra: considered the first prominent female costarican writer. Some of her books include Los Cuentos de mi Tía Panchita and En una Silla de Ruedas (In a Wheelchair)
  • Carlos Luis Fallas (CALUFA): Costa Rican author and political activist. Some of his books include Mamita Yunai and Marcos Ramírez.
  • Joaquín Gutiérrez: Costa Rican writer , journalist, story-teller, professor, translator and communist activist. His most representative book, Cocorí, a children's book which has been translated into ten languages.
  • Carlos Salazar Herrera: Costa Rican writer. His most representative book "Cuentos de Angustias y Paisajes".
  • Isaac Felipe Azofeifa: Costa Rican poet, politician and educator. Some of his writing includes "Canción" and "Estaciones".
  • Yolanda Oreamuno: Costa Rican writer, her most representative work "La Ruta de su Evasión"
  • Ana Istarú
  • Julieta Dobles
  • Jorge Debravo


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