Meaning of avant-garde literature

What is Avant-garde Literature:

Avant-garde literature is called the set of literary works created in the first decades of the twentieth century, which broke with previous schemes, and exposed new and different literary trends.

The word avant-garde derives from French avant-garde, avant- means 'in front of', and garde, 'guard'.

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 broad scientific, technological and economic development for many nations, which even led to job improvements and economic expansion.

However, then there were critical times 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 degree because some of them delved deeper into one type of artistic expression than others.

In this sense, poets and writers, as well as artists in general, put aside traditional structures, sentimentality, taboo subjects and made art a means for questioning, expressing illogical and surreal ideas, emotions, among others.

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


Expressionism emerged in Germany in the early 20th century. It is characterized by highlighting themes such as madness, fear, war, morality, religion, loss of identity, love, sexuality, disease, delirium, 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 started 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 the calligram. Its main exponent was the French 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, the 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 what 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 Dada treatise.

Dadaist literature was characterized by questioning literature and art, presenting themes devoid of 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 the year 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 are Vicente Huidobro, Guillermo de Torre, Guillaume Apollinaire, Jorge Luis Borges, among others.


Surrealist literature emerged in France, approximately, in 1924. It is characterized by being an avant-garde movement that seeks to expose the real from the imaginary, irrational, dreamlike or the 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 are André Breton, Philippe Soupault, Jonathan Swift, Arthur Rimbaud, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Baudelaire, Federico García Lorca, Rafael Alberti, among others.

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