Generation 27
Language Resources

Generation of '27

The Generation of '27 (1927) was the name given to a group of highly influential avant-garde artists who, with their combined work, expressed an attitude that encouraged a care-free form of expressionism. Though classified as one large group, the Generation of '27 was in fact broken down into smaller subgroups, each of these taking on a particular style dependent on the artist involved. For example, Salvador Dali was focused on surrealism and reveled in providing a cascade of shocks for the bourgeoisie class.

Emerging in the year of 1927 through the tribute that was organized around the anniversary of the third century of the death of Luis de Góngora, the "Generation" was never really integrated into a homogeneous group. Instead, often contradictory postulations were mostly related to each other in their intention to break with the moulds of tradition and to forge new tendencies that explored reality in creative ways.

It might seem ironic that the vigor and boldness required to break into new creative paths should have been inspired by the celebration of a poet from the Golden Age of Spanish literature. Nevertheless, it was not only the extreme results that Góngora's experimentation with language derived, which served as point of departure of the different proposals made by writers and artists of the time, but also the sharp contrast that Góngora's near-forgotten figure provided against the backdrop of a largely realist establishment, where Góngora's culteranismo was unequivocally frowned upon.

In this sense, the break that the Generation of '27 formulated was not necessarily with the past (at least not the remote past) as it was with the ruling aesthetic of the time, which, in turn, called forth a tradition of its own as demonstration of the worth and merit of the realist vision of the world. Neither averting their eyes from reality nor distancing themselves from the past, Spanish avant-garde artists of the Generation of '27 sought, instead, to look at that same reality in a different light, from another perspective.

Generation Gap

The Generation of '27 has often been reduced to the ten members who participated in the symposium in Seville that celebrated the third centenary of Luis de Góngora's death. While in literary terms such list is useful (though evidently not comprehensive), the extent of the grouping often reaches much farther, including plastic and visual artists, such as Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, both of whom were closely connected to various members of the group. Naturally, this resulted in the great diversity of views, as well as ages, that prevailed among the members of the Generation.

Similarly, the Generation of '27 was, conceptually, a million miles away from the often somber and lugubrious intimations that characterized the work of some of the members of the previous Generation, that of '98. However, despite the aesthetic distinction and their radically different visions of the world, the members of the Generation of '27 felt tremendous respect for their predecessors. This is explained through the shared circumstances which led to the spreading of both groups, which had in common their animosity against a passive or unquestioning acceptance of the prevailing discourse.

A stepping stone in the conceptual evolution that led from the Generation of '98 to the Generation of '27 is often described as the Generation of '14 (1914), which in spain comes not to designate the "lost generation" of young men engaged in The Great War, but rather a group of intellectuals with liberal but rationalist ideas who sympathized with the Generation of '98 without, necessarily endorsing its postulates. Among the members of this "Generation", José Ortega y Gasset stands out as the leading theorist of the time, while Ramón Gómez de la Serna and, especially, Juan Ramón Jiménez, whose close ties to members of the Generation of '27, among them Federico García Lorca, served as the perfect link between the two movements.

Who Is Part of the Generation of '27

Artists sought to provide people facing hardships during the tumultuous years that preceded the full outbreak of the civil war with an escape, moving away from the mainstream discourse. Unfortunately, intellectuals in general, and those who belonged to the Generation of '27 in particular, did not fare well during the war, as was famously and cruelly demonstrated by the execution of Federico García Lorca. Only days into the war, he was taken away, never to be heard from again. Other members during this time faced an untimely end which caused a knock on effect for all of those involved within the group.

As a whole, the Generation's literary work was referred to as pure poetry. Nevertheless, much of the poetry produced during the later years moved away from formal perfection, in order to regularly introduce music into the pieces of work. Evidently, these are generalization about a number of the pieces produced by the Generation. Nevertheless, a closer look into the work of each of the poets reveals the extent to which these poets explored different -and often contradictory- paths. The original ten members of the Generation of '27 are listed below:

  • Jorge Guillén
  • Pedro Salinas
  • Rafael Alberti
  • Federico García Lorca
  • Dámaso Alonso
  • Gerado Diego
  • Luis Cernuda
  • Vicente Aleixandre
  • Manuel Altolaguirre
  • Emilio Prados