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

Charles McCarthy
What is a literary age and what are the main ones?

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

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

Generally 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 the other disciplines, is a reflection of its historical epoch..

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 era

Approximately this time spanned from the 19th century BC. C. to the VIII century a. C. The works of this time generally refer to man trying to explain the conception of the universe and 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 time

It spanned from the 8th century BC. C. to the third century d. C. It generally occurred during the growth of Greek culture and 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, mostly in Greece.. The Iliad Y The odyssey, epic works that combine legends with real events, were written during these years.

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

Medieval times

It took place at the end of the 3rd century until the 14th century; specifically encompassing 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 gender. Latin is a common language found in these works; however Old English works can be found, such as Beowulf; in Middle High German, like The song of the Nibelungs; or in old french, Song of Roldán.

Many of these works are based on the oral traditions of people. You can find Celtic traditions or even ancient Norse literature.

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

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

Renaissance period

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

The works of this time benefited from the spread of the printing press. For the 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 humanistic philosophy and the recovery of classical antiquity. New literary genres emerged such as the essay; the pursuit of 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 Dante and the Decameron Bocaccio are also important examples of this period.

Baroque period

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 the twisted forms.

It developed quite a bit 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 period

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 French classical theater originated, and the ideas of the enlightenment, the Enlightenment, and the encyclopedia spread..

Romantic era

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 respect for nature..

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

Modernist era

It happened from the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century. It is characterized by a break from traditional forms of writing, both in poetry and in fiction. 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.

Epoch a post modernist or avant-garde

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 the distinctions between high and low culture through the use of pastiche.


  1. Medieval literature. Recovered from wikipedia.org
  2. Literature in Baroque. Recovered from wikipedia.org
  3. Romanticism. Recovered from wikipedia.org
  4. Literary modernism. Recovered from wikipedia.org
  5. Postmodern literature. Recovered from wikipedia.org
  6. Renaissance literature. Recovered from wikipedia.org
  7. Overview of literary periods and movements in English Literature. Recovered from study.com

Yet No Comments