The writers of Spanish America in the last quarter of the 19th cent. broke with the nationalistic expression of the previous generation and immersed themselves in a world of artifice. These were the modernistas, who believed in "art for art's sake" and were influenced by the French Parnassian and symbolist schools. They wrote on rare and exotic themes and experimented with language and meter.
Those who initiated this literary movement, known as modernismo, were the Mexican Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera, the Colombian José Asunción Silva, and the Cubans Julián del Casal and José Martí, the latter known also for his struggle to gain Cuba's independence from Spain. The movement reached its peak with the publication of the Nicaraguan Rubén Darío's Selected Poems (tr. 1965), which influenced writers throughout Spanish America and many in Spain. Among others there were Amado Nervo of Mexico, José Santos Chocano of Peru, Ricardo Jaimes Freyre of Bolivia, Guillermo Valencia of Colombia, Julio Herrera y Reissig and José Enrique Rodó of Uruguay, and Leopoldo Lugones of Argentina.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.