The Contemporaries

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The Contemporaries (Los contemporáneos) by Alberto Lámar Schweyer offers a fascinating look at the literature and culture of Cuba in the early 20th century. Through its pages, the author provides a detailed analysis of the literary currents and the most influential figures of his time, with a special emphasis on Modernism and its impact in Cuba and Latin America.
The work begins by exploring the cultural and literary context of the era, marked by a strong influence of Romanticism, which then gave way to Naturalism and later to Realism. Schweyer not only describes these movements with clarity but also critiques and analyzes their merits and flaws, providing a balanced and critical perspective.
One of the strengths of this book is its analysis of Modernism, which Schweyer does not consider a literary school per se, but rather a congregation of different styles and authors who shared certain sensibilities. According to the author, this movement was crucial for liberating Latin American literature from the rigidities of Romanticism and Realism, allowing for a freer and more diverse expression of emotions and thoughts.
Schweyer offers biographies and literary critiques of several important authors of the time, such as Rubén Darío, who is considered the foremost exponent of Modernism in the Spanish language. Through these profiles, the book celebrates their contributions and reflects on their legacy and the permanence of their works.
This work also dedicates chapters to discussing how these literary influences manifested in Cuba, describing the interaction between politics, society, and literature in the formation of a postcolonial Cuban cultural identity. Schweyer strives to show how literary movements were not just European imports but were adapted and transformed by local writers to reflect and critique their own society.
The Contemporaries is an essential work for understanding the literary history of Cuba and the evolution of thought and artistic expression in Latin America during a period of significant changes. Schweyer’s book stands out for its profound scholarship and its ability to contextualize literature within the broader social and cultural movements of its time.

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