7 junio, 2024

What is a literary era and what are the main ones?

What is a literary age?

A literary age refers to the different times or periods in which literature has prospered. These stages have occurred throughout humanity, therefore they can be recognized and divided into several periods.

Each period has its group of particular characteristics; sometimes specifically within a region. It is important to note that usually these periods occurred accompanied by a much broader cultural or historical context. Some literary eras may coincide with the historical periods of humanity.

Generally the times can be divided into ancient or classical, middle and Renaissance. Many of the literary eras can also be studied in works of art, philosophy, history, and politics. This is because literature, like other disciplines, is a reflection of its historical period.

It is also important to note that literary periods can be classified in different ways; ranging from very specific and detailed classifications to slightly broader classifications.

The main literary eras

pre-classical period

Approximately this time spanned from the 19th century B.C. C. to the 8th century BC. C. The works of this time generally refer to man trying to explain the conception of the universe and of man with supernatural details.

The themes of this time were based on the explanation of the phenomena of nature, the norms of human behavior, and the traditions and customs of individuals. It can be said that myths and legends originated here.

This era took place in China, India, Egypt and Judea.

classical period

It spanned from the 8th century B.C. C. to the 3rd century AD. C. Generally it occurred during the growth of the Greek culture and the Latin culture. In classical times, they wanted to try to explain man, his world, and the universe in general with rational thoughts.

Literature developed a lot during this period, especially in Greece. The Iliad and The odysseyepic works that combine legends with real events, were written during these years.

Thanks to the classical period, several literary genres can be distinguished, such as the epic/narrative, the dramatic/theatrical, and the lyrical/poetic.

Medieval times

It was carried out at the end of the 3rd century until the 14th century; specifically covering the period of about a thousand years after the end of the fall of the Roman Empire. The literature of this time was composed of religious and secular works.

These works of literature are often grouped by place of origin, language, and genre. Latin is a common language found in these works; however Old English works can be found, such as Beowulf; in Middle High German, as The Song of the Nibelungs; or in old French, Song of Roldán

Many of these works are based on the oral traditions of people. Celtic traditions or even Old Norse literature can be found.

A great majority of medieval literature is anonymous, due to the lack of documents from this period and the interpretation of the role that the author played in that period.

The invention of biography can be attributed to this literary age. Religious and secular jobs abounded at this time. This literature makes use of many literary devices, especially allegory.

renaissance era

It spanned from the 14th to the 15th century. She was influenced by the intellectual cultural movement of the Renaissance; originated in Italy, but spread to the rest of Europe. There are works of English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, etc. Renaissance literature.

The works of this time benefited from the spread of the printing press. For writers of this time, inspiration was shown both in the themes of their work and in the literary forms they used.

It is characterized by the adoption of a humanist philosophy and the recovery of classical antiquity. New literary genres arose such as the essay; the search for the pleasures of the senses and a rational and critical spirit completed the Renaissance ideology.

Macchiavello and Ariosto are notable examples of Italian Renaissance. The Divine Comedy of Dante and the decameron by Bocaccio are also important examples from this period.

baroque era

It happened during the 16th and 17th centuries. The works of this period make much use of literary figures, the language is quite ornate, and they make use of twisted forms.

It developed a lot in Spain, with the Spanish Golden Age: The Quijote de Cervantes, Lope de Vega and Calderón de la Barca are great examples of this period. Shakespeare, John Milton, Molirère and Perrault were also great exponents.

neoclassical era

It occupied the end of the 17th century and a part of the 18th century. At this time the classic models were imitated; but this period was dominated by reason. They wanted to teach through literature; essays and fables were developed.

The adventure novel, the classic French theater originated, and the ideas of the Enlightenment, the Enlightenment, and the encyclopedia spread.

romantic time

It spanned the late 17th century and the 19th century. The recurring themes were found in the evocation or criticism of the past, the cult of sensitivity, the isolation of the artist, and the respect for nature.

Some authors, such as Poe and Hawthorne, based their work on the occult and human psychology. Goethe, the Grimm brothers, Lord Byron, Keats and Mary Shelley belonged to this period.

modernist era

It occurred from the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century. It is characterized by a break in traditional forms of writing, both in poetry and fiction. The modernists experimented with literary forms and expression.

This literary movement was driven by a conscious desire to change traditional forms of representation and express new sensibilities of the time.

James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Whitman, and Baudelaire were modernist authors.

Post modernist or avant-garde period

It occupies from the second decade of the 20th century to the present. It is characterized by relying on narrative techniques such as fragmentation, paradox, and the unreliable narrator.

Postmodernism tends to resist definition or classification as a movement. Postmodernist writers are perceived as reacting against the precepts of modernism, parodying forms and styles associated with modernism.

These works employ metafiction and question distinctions between high and low culture through the use of pastiche.


Medieval literature. Retrieved from wikipedia.org
Literature in Baroque. Retrieved from wikipedia.org
Romanticism. Retrieved from wikipedia.org
Literary modernism. Retrieved from wikipedia.org
Postmodern literature. Retrieved from wikipedia.org
Renaissance literature. Retrieved from wikipedia.org
Overview of literary periods and movements in English Literature. Retrieved from study.com

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