Nadaism origin, characteristics, authors, works

Basil Manning

The nothingness It was a literary movement that emerged in Colombia in the late 1950s as a response to the social and cultural system that prevailed at that time. This current sought to revolutionize the statutes traditionally established by institutions and academies.

The main creator of Nadaism was the Colombian writer, poet and journalist Gonzalo Arango. This author oriented the behavior of the movement towards the precepts of the avant-garde currents of that time and invited several young people to join.

Gonzalo Arango Arias, main representative of Nadaism. Source:

Although in principle the concept was not well defined, it was associated with the perception and interpretation of existence. Nadaism was a kind of social protest and its intensity and controversy pursued the provocation of social, cultural, political, religious and moral elites..

The philosophy of this movement was based on the thought of the French Jean Paul Sartre, the German Friedrich Nietzsche and the American Henry Miller. His legacy was constant change.

Article index

  • 1 Origin
    • 1.1 - Naughtiness claims
    • 1.2 - First Nadaist manifesto
    • 1.3 - About its creator
  • 2 Features
    • 2.1 Free proposal
    • 2.2 The artist as human
    • 2.3 Broad conception of poetry
    • 2.4 Prose and its expressive sense
    • 2.5 Orientation to the new
    • 2.6 Originality
    • 2.7 Temporality
    • 2.8 Vitality
  • 3 Authors and representative works
    • 3.1 - Elmo Valencia (1926-2017)
    • 3.2 - Eduardo Escobar (1943)
    • 3.3 - Jaime Jaramillo Uribe (1917-2015)
    • 3.4 - Amílcar Osorio (1940-1985)
  • 4 References


Nadaism originated in 1959 in the city of Medellín in Colombia at the initiative of the writer Gonzalo Arango. Its birth was linked to the political-social context of the country, which was characterized by the double standards of those who had to maintain order and proper functioning of the State..

This literary and philosophical movement came to life in the midst of a society governed by the political moves that brought Gustavo Rojas Pinilla to power, after carrying out a coup against Laureano Gómez. Nadaism emerged as a defense mechanism against the religious, social and literary traditions of the mid-twentieth century.

- Naughtiness claims

Arango's first step was to motivate a group of young Colombian writers to join the movement. The members of Nadaism tried to annoy the upper echelons of society by appealing to a constant social protest of the established norms.

Nothingness sought with intensity and rebellion to break and destabilize the "order" established within an environment characterized by misery and conventions. There was in this movement the need to incorporate the avant-garde literary innovations that emerged to express with greater freedom their perception of life.

- First Nadaist manifesto

Gonzalo Arango was given the task of writing a letter where he stated the raison d'être of Nadaism as a literary and philosophical movement. The document was divided into thirteen statutes. The text referred to the concept, the artist, poetry and prose, the revolutionary and changing, education and freedom.

Nadaism was not specifically defined by Arango in this manifesto. The intellectual proposed it as a broad proposal, based on a conscious spirit and on the search for the new to find the true freedom of man and his value within society..


The thirteen statutes or precepts established by Gonzalo Arango on nothingness are mentioned below..

- "Definition of Nadaism".

- "Concept about the artist".

- "Nothingness and poetry".

- "Nothingness and prose".

- "Forbidden to commit suicide".

- "Nadaism: principle of doubt and new truth".

- "Nadaísmo: legitimate Colombian revolution".

- "Imposture of Colombian education".

- "Nadaism is a position, not a metaphysics".

- "Towards a new ethic".

- "Loneliness and freedom".

- "Nadaísmo and Cocacolos".

- "We will not leave a faith intact, nor an idol in its place".

- About its creator

Gonzalo Arango was born on January 18, 1931 in the town of Los Andes in Antioquia. He stood out for being a writer, journalist and poet. His literary work was marked by conflicts between liberals and conservatives and by the role of the church in education in his teenage years. For this reason, his writings were rebellious and defiant.

Arango's constant opposition to what was imposed by the society of his time and the literature that developed led him to create Nadaism. This is how he moved away from sentimentality to make way for the new. The poet passed away on September 25, 1976 from a car accident, but left a legacy of renewed literary aesthetics.

Main works

- First Nadaist manifesto (1958).

- The red shirts (1959).

- Sex and saxophone (1963).

- Prose for reading in the electric chair (1966).

- Boom against pum pum (1967).

- Black work (1974).


Free proposal

One of the main characteristics of Nadaism was that it was not subject to any organization, entity or political party. Rather, it was a free proposal both in content and aesthetics that sought to expand the literary and cultural possibilities of Colombia..

The artist as human

Nadaism refused to see the artist, creator or poet as a superior being. The movement considered that the artist should not be valued as an entity far from the earthly, but that it was necessary to give him back his human place in order to understand him. The man expresses and the artist shapes the externalized.

Broad conception of poetry

Nadaism stood out for giving a broader vision to poetry. He raised it as a disoriented spirit, which sought to disorganize what was established by sentimentality, equality and justice. Nadaist poetry was rebellious, defiant, combative and anti-traditional.

With the arrival of Nadaism in the 20th century, the development of poetry in Colombia separated from the metric and rhythmic precepts and over time it became irrational and less rhetorical. He was in charge of unveiling a different beauty, based on the pure and the hidden.

Prose and its expressive sense

The Nadaists included prose in their aesthetic revolution and gave it an expressive character, but from the illogical and irrational. Nadaism invited to externalize reality from the absurd and moved away from organized rhetoric. The movement gave the artist or writer full freedom to create.

Orientation to the new

The Nadaism focused on giving the Colombian citizen a different culture than the one he was used to. He pursued the transformation of a society mired in misery and in the dominant power of a minority. He sought to give society the freedom and flexibility of knowledge to shed the lie of reality.


A striking feature of Nadaism was its originality and independence from Colombian and foreign literary movements. It was a kind of culture and form of expression isolated from all European thought and ideal. His attention was focused on the development of the man and not on the ornaments of the landscape that accompanied him..


The Nadaists conceived of their movement as temporary. This definition was linked to the constant process of change in every revolution. Nadaism saw man as an entity that had to renew itself and not remain entrenched in the traditional statutes of a society that only tried to disguise reality and limit freedoms.


Nothingness celebrated life without fear and with the conviction that it was only one. This is how in his texts he referred to all the taboos of 20th century society, such as the fear of a place other than heaven and the punishment of God. He intended that man live within a reality provided with infinite options.

Authors and representative works

- Elmo Valencia (1926-2017)

He was a Colombian writer, novelist and essayist whose work was developed within the parameters of Nadaism. His literary career unfolded between publications, cultural events and the fight for the propagation of a new art form in his native country. This intellectual was the winner of the Nadaísta Novel Prize in 1967.


Elmo Valencia. Source: Libros y

- Islanada (1967).

- The human universe.

- Bottle ass. Poem.

- Eduardo Escobar (1943)

He was born on December 20, 1943 in the town of Envigado in Antioquia. His education was largely self-taught; in his teens he dropped out of school to dedicate himself to writing and the Nadaist movement. His work encompassed various literary genres, among which are essays, biographies, novels and short stories..


- Invention of the grape (1966).

- From embryo to drunkenness (1969).

- Quack (1970).

- Minimal confession (1975).

- Violated correspondence (1980).

- Chronic nadaism and other epidemics (1991).

- Trials and attempts (2001).

- Incomplete prose (2003).

- Illustrated poems (2007).

- When nothing agrees (2013).

- Loose ends (2017).

- Jaime Jaramillo Uribe (1917-2015)

He was an Antioquia writer and historian who stood out for giving history a professional rank. He attended university studies in social sciences and law. His literary work was in charge of investigating and making known the origin of the ideas and thoughts that arose in his country; also analyzed the way of relating of indigenous groups.


Jaime Jaramillo Uribe. Source:

- Colombian thought in the 19th century (1964).

- Some aspects of the Colombian personality (1969).

- History of pedagogy as history of culture (1970).

- From sociology to history (1994).

- Intellectual memories (2007).

- Children of darkness (2012).

- Amílcar Osorio (1940-1985)

He was a Colombian writer and poet considered one of the main founders of Nadaism along with Gonzalo Arango. Little has been written about his life and work, but it is known that the content of his texts went against the social, artistic and cultural system of his time..


- The recumbent of Mantegna.


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  3. Gonzalo Arango's “nadaísmo”. (2016). Colombia: Notimerica. Recovered from:
  4. Pinzón, C. (2008). Nadaist authors. Colombia: Nadaístas Authors. Recovered from:
  5. First nothingist manifesto. (2000-2019). Colombia: Gonzalo Arango. Recovered from:

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