Avant-garde Literature

What is avant-garde literature

It is called avant-garde literature. set of literary works created in the first decades of the 20th century, that broke with previous schemes, and exposed new and different literary trends.

Literature, like other artistic expressions, was part of the different avant-garde movements that emerged in the midst of a very particular historical, political, social and economic context.

On the one hand, it was a time of extensive scientific, technological and economic development for many nations, which even led to job improvements and economic expansion.

However, then critical times occurred generated by the First World War, the Russian Revolution and the Great economic depression, the Second World War, among others.

The main avant-garde movements were fauvism, cubism, futurism, dadaism, ultraism, surrealism and stridentism.

Avant-garde literature developed in the different avant-garde movements that emerged, but to a greater or lesser extent because some of these delved more deeply into one type of artistic expression than others.

In this sense, poets and writers, as well as artists in general, left traditional structures, sentimentalism, and taboo topics aside and made art a medium for questioning, expressing illogical and surreal ideas, emotions, etc. others.

Hence, avant-garde literature is characterized by breaking conventions and completely opening itself to creativity and imagination, through various techniques and modes of expression.


Expressionism emerged in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. It is characterized by highlighting themes such as madness, fear, war, morality, religion, loss of identity, love, sexuality, illness, delirium, the sinister, anguish, phobias, among others.

Likewise, expressionism was a movement that exposed an existential crisis and criticized the life of the bourgeois class. Among the main expressionist authors we can mention Georg Trakl, Rainer M. Rilke, Franz Kafka, Franz Werfel, among others.


It was an avant-garde movement that originated in France in 1907, and was initiated by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque.

In literature it was characterized by the union of random concepts that were incompatible, opening space for black humor and providing calligraphy. The main exponent of it was the Frenchman Guillaume Apollinaire.


Literary futurism emerged in Italy from the hand of the poet Filio Tommaso Marinett, who published the futurist manifesto in 1909, in which the idea of ​​the machine, movement, the sensual and the warrior was exalted.

It was an avant-garde that went beyond conventional parameters and gave literature an expression capable of reinventing man and giving space to that which was not human.


Dadaism, as an avant-garde movement, emerged in Switzerland in 1916. Its founders were the poets Tristan Tzara (Romanian) and Hugo Ball (German), who wrote the treatise Dada.

Dadaist literature was characterized by questioning literature and art, presenting themes lacking logic, absurdities and poems that present a continuous succession of words.


Ultraism was an avant-garde movement that opposed modernism. It originated in Spain, approximately, in 1918.

It was the avant-garde movement that spread the most among Spanish-speaking poets and writers. It was characterized by the use of free verse, the extensive use of metaphor and by not maintaining a rhythmic style.

Among the main representatives of ultraism, Vicente Huidobro, Guillermo de Torre, Guillaume Apollinaire, Jorge Luis Borges, among others, stand out.


Surrealist literature emerged in France, approximately, in the year 1924. It is characterized by being an avant-garde movement that seeks to expose the real from the imaginary, irrational, dreamlike or unconscious.

It is a literary avant-garde that breaks with all previous structures, and makes extensive use of images that express emotion.

Among the main exponents of literary surrealism, André Breton, Philippe Soupault, Jonathan Swift, Arthur Rimbaud, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Baudelaire, Federico García Lorca, Rafael Alberti, among others, stand out.

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