Contemporary Spanish Literature

The contemporary period has been a difficult period for literature in general as the age of technology and fast information has taken over. Some of the literary genres have suffered at the hands of modernization, in particular theatre with the rise of cinema and television; whereas other genres, such as journalism, have flourished with the new found freedom. What is clear though is that there is a great range of Spanish authors today to suit the tastes of anyone taking Spanish classes abroad.

Contemporary Period - Historical Context

Following the death of General Franco, Spain underwent a transitional period, during which the transitional powers founded the Spanish constitution and implemented a democratic government system. Many of the restrictions and laws that were imposed during Franco's dictatorship were abolished or changed, allowing people a lot more freedom.

The 1980s in particular, once the government had been established, was a time for great change in Spanish society. This was the time of the cultural explosion known as the 'Movida Madrileña', composed of sexual liberty, pop culture and drugs. This particularly period has had an impact on most forms of art, including contemporary Spanish literature.

The 1990s and 2000s have become known as the age of information, with the spread of the internet to the general public. These decades have helped to unite the world, making access to international literature much easier, which in turn, has helped the spread of the fame of contemporary Spanish authors.

However the technology developed over the past decades has not always been kind to contemporary Spanish literature. Cinema has surpassed theatre, while the written press is facing stiff competition with internet journalism. Contemporary Spanish literature has certainly developed over the past few decades, and it looks like it will continue to evolve in the coming years as well.

Contemporary Spanish Literature

Distinct literary styles are quite hard to find during the last few decades, however this is one of the things that defines this period. There have been a few small literary movements, particularly in poetry and novels. However, despite this lack of great sweeping trends in Spanish literature, Spain is not short of successful writers. Many contemporary Spanish writers often stray into different genres; such is the case with people like Javier Marías who is famous for his journalistic articles as well as his novels.


Poetry actually saw quite a few separate movements, beginning with the Novísimos at the end of the 1960s. This movement represented a break away from earlier traditional movements, and led the way for the contemporary Spanish poets of the future. With the cultural revolution of the 1980s, many Spanish poets began experimenting with poetry, especially metaphysical poetry. The 1990s and 2000s however have seen a mixture of traditional poetry and experimental poetry, depending on the poet and their personal take on the art of poetry.


Novels have become one of the major forms of expressions for young writers, and as such, the contemporary period has seen two movements in which young writers have begun to criticize and comment on modern society with a gritty realism; no more so than José Ángel Mañas. Many of the novels are studied in schools in Spain and abroad as an accurate representation of modern Spanish society.

This period has also seen the rise of a new phenomenon in Spain: the international best-selling author. A number of Spanish authors have reached this status thanks to translations and easy access to these works via the internet. However, cinema has begun muscling in on the Spanish novel scene as well, with many of these famous Spanish novels being adapted for the big screen.


As mentioned earlier, contemporary Spanish theatre has suffered due to the ever increasing popularity of the cinema and other audiovisual media. This has meant that many of the authors, who in past times would have become playwrights, have dedicated themselves to script writing instead. Nevertheless, Spanish theatre today still has some interesting characters, and varies between very critical, politically charged plays to experimental theatre.


The liberation of the press after the fall of Francisco Franco meant that the Spanish press has developed a lot over the past few decades. Many new newspapers have sprung up, allowing various Spanish journalists, with varying viewpoints, to have their voice heard. However, as always, the Spanish press and its contemporary Spanish journalists have created as much news as they have reported by being involved in a number of scandals and court cases.

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