Generation of ’98

Generation of ’98. It is the name by which a group of writers was known who, born at a nearby date and moved by an event of their time, face the same problems and react in a similar way to them. Also called “generation of disaster” in allusion to the loss of Cuba as a Spanish colony, it focused, among other things, on highlighting the beauty of the sober Castilian landscape and developing a stylistic renovation that omitted the rhetoric of the 19th century , it is recognized by all as a spiritual guide Miguel de Unamuno .


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  • 1 Emergence
    • 1 Purpose of the Generation of ’98
    • 2 Characteristics of the 98 generation
    • 3 Ideological characteristics
    • 4 Literary characteristics
  • 2 Magazines
  • 3 Most significant members
  • 4 Sources


Initially it was formed by the so-called Group of the Three (Baroja, Azorín and Maeztu), among the most significant members of this group we can mention Ángel Ganivet , Miguel de Unamuno , Enrique de Mesa, Ramiro de Maeztu, Azorín , Antonio Machado , the brothers Pío and Ricardo Baroja, Ramón María del Valle-Inclán and the philologist Ramón Menéndez Pidal. Some also include Vicente Blasco Ibáñez , who because of his aesthetics can be considered rather a writer of Naturalism, and also the playwright Jacinto Benavente. José Ortega y Gasset, who is considered almost unanimously as belonging to the generation of 14, should not be included.

Purpose of the Generation of ’98

The literary generation known as “Generación del 98” had as its main purpose to elevate Spain from its prostration and discredit, put it on a par with the other nations of Europe and give it a different spirit, tone and dignity, contributing to the solving your problems. The generation of 98 was a severe judge for those who had led Spain to material and moral ruin, and decided, in a frustrated and noble romantic effort, to change the social and political situation of this country.

The Generation of 98 is a group of Spanish authors from the late nineteenth century characterized by incorporating into their work a reflection on the essence of Spain based on its historical and cultural tradition. Others call them the “turn of the century” generation. The main source of inspiration for the Noventayochistas is Castilla, which they consider to be the heart of Hispanic identity. They use the landscape, monuments, types and history of the Castilian region in their essays, novels , poems, plays , paintings, and photographs .

Instead, the musicians associated with the 98th generation are inspired by Andalusian rhythms and themes. Thus, the titles of the compositions and the rhythms of the Noventayochista musicians have associated the Andalusian with the most characteristically Spanish. Therefore, the plastic and literary vision of Spain is linked to Castilian austerity, while the musical representation is imbued by the joy and exoticism of Andalusia.

Features of the ’98 generation

Faced with the state of apathy and indifference in which the country had fallen, they worry about finding the true essence or soul of Spain and the meaning of life. For this they used three ways:

  • Each literary age has had its models; the authors of the Generation of 98 have a special weakness for Gonzalo de Berceo , Jorge Manrique , Miguel de Cervantes and Francisco de Quevedo . They admire Larra and the enlightened because they had already suffered and analyzed these problems.
  • The history. This is where these writers look for the essence of Spain, the values ​​of the country and the root of the present problems.
  • They see in the austere Castilian landscape the reflection of the soul and the essence they seek. They travel the plateau of Castile describing in detail the poverty of its towns, the simplicity of its people and the extreme of its climate. They hoped to capture, through this landscape, the soul of Spain.

Ideological characteristics

This generation is characterized by social criticism and the denunciation of the semi-slavery situation in which the day laborers found themselves, tied to the large landowners. They try to change Spain . They were inspired by the critical current of Canovism, (a political current whose main characteristic was distrust in the people’s ability to govern themselves and defended the monarchy) and in regenerationism, (which between the 19th and 20th centuries meditates objectively and scientifically on the causes of the decline of Spain as a nation). Perhaps the genre they used the most was the essay ; renewing the novel , poetry and theater .

Some of these authors began, in their young years, writing in a hypercritical leftist tone, which later would be converted to a more traditional conception, such as Azorín. Others went the opposite way, such as Antonio Machado and Ramón María del Valle-Inclán , who became more committed to the left over the years. Pío Baroja , José Augusto Trinidad Martínez Ruiz and Ramiro de Maeztu had formed the “Group of three” in 1901. “They wanted to transform Spain by equating it with the most developed European countries of the time.


Members who made up the Generation of ’98 among others

The term Neoclassicism (from the Greek -νέος neos, the Latin classicus and the Greek suffix -ισμός -ismos) emerged in the 18th century to denote in a negative way the aesthetic movement that came to reflect in the arts, the intellectual principles of the Enlightenment, that since the middle of the 18th century had been produced in philosophy, and that consequently had been transmitted to all areas of culture. However, coinciding with the decline of Napoleon Bonaparte, Neoclassicism was losing adherents in favor of Romanticism .

Later each evolved differently. Maeztu went from socialist concepts to the extreme right and to be a champion of Hispanidad. Azorín abandoned his destructive anarchism to take part in political projects within the conservative government of Maura, acceding to relevant positions in the Administration, and even in the post-war period he got along well with the Franco dictatorship. Baroja continued in his nonconformist line but increasingly isolated. Unamuno evolved from the socialism of the PSOE to more conservative positions.

Literary characteristics

After the loss of the colonies of America in 1898 , the year which called this generation, its members react similarly:

  • They rebel and protest against the backwardness of that country. This makes them propose solutions for the reconstruction of agriculture , education , culture and the economy . They also propose the integration of Spain into Europe .
  • They exalt national and patriotic values , as they acquire a greater knowledge and appreciation of Spain.
  • Their eagerness to reform makes them adopt a certain literary style to present their ideas:
  • Language simple and expressive that breaks with ornate rhetoric of the time.
  • Appropriate vocabulary, in order to reflect as accurately as possible what you want to express. Hence, cultured, foreign and popular words abound. Prevalence of simple, concise and brief sentences, avoiding long paragraphs and subordination.

The painters, among whom Jacques-Louis David stood out, reproduced the main events of the revolution and exalted Roman myths, which were identified with the values ​​of the revolution.

Structural clarity and the predominance of drawing over color are some of the main formal characteristics of neoclassical painting . Works such as the Oath of the Horatii, for example, pose a precise space in which the characters are placed in the foreground. Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1839-1867), although he was not a neoclassical painter, has works – such as La Fuente – that represent this artistic movement.


The authors of 1998 were grouped around some characteristic journals. Don Quijote ( 1892 – 1902 ), Germinal ( 1897 – 1899 ), New Life ( 1898 – 1900 ), New Magazine ( 1899 ), Plenitud ( 1901 – 1902 ), Electra (1901), Helios ( 1903 – 1904 ), Spanish Soul (1903- 1905 ) and Los Helechos ( 1894- 1895 ).

Most significant members

Among the most significant members of this group we can mention: Ángel Ganivet , Miguel de Unamuno , Enrique de Mesa , Ramiro de Maeztu , Azorín , Antonio and Manuel Machado , the brothers Pío and Ricardo Baroja , Ramón María del Valle- Inclán , Gabriel and Galán , Manuel Gómez Moreno , Miguel Asín Palacios , Francisco Villaespesa , the philologist Ramón Menéndez Pidal and the playwright Jacinto Benavente or Carlos Arniches, Joaquín and Serafín Álvarez Quintero .

Some also include Vicente Blasco , who due to his aesthetics can be considered rather a writer of Naturalism. José Ortega y Gasset should not be included, who is considered almost unanimously as belonging to the Novecentismo, Generación del 14 or Vanguardias, as a group of writers, mostly essayists, located between the Generation of 98 and the Generation of 27 is called. .

Artists from other disciplines can also be considered within this aesthetic, such as the painters Ignacio Zuloaga and Ricardo Baroja , the latter also a writer. Among the musicians, Isaac Albéniz and Enrique Granados stand out . Less prominent members of this generation were Ciro Bayo y Segurola ( 1859 – 1959 ), the journalist Manuel Bueno ( 1873 – 1936 ), Mauricio López-Roberts , Luis Ruiz Contreras ( 1863 – 1953 ), Rafael Urbano (1870 – 1924 ) and many others. They maintained, at least at first, a close friendship.


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