Top 10 Best Modern Literary Movements of All Time and All Genres

Tags: #Postmodernism ,   #Expressionism ,   #Realism ,   #Symbolism

Scarlett Goldstein

Scarlett Goldstein

Last updated:  2021-11-22 09:49:35

Liking contemporary writers is a way to keep up with the world you're living in right now, and it's an essential part of knowing literature and culture in general. Still, the only way to be an excellent literature fan and expert is to learn about its history! Check out these ten literary movements that will make you walk down memory lane and try reading some books that already wrote history!

10. Futurism

Here's basically everything you need to know

Wait, how could art even exist without a taste of avant-garde, rage, and rebellion? The turbulent world that created futurism in Italy and brought it to Russia and the whole of Europe is a memorable moment of the 20th century. A poet you should definitely check out is Vladimir Mayakovsky – the man who set the world on fire with his unapologetic verses.

Of course, futurism was way more than a literary movement – it was massive for art in general. Futurism played a crucial role in paintings and gave us some iconic artists, such as Umberto Boccioni and Giacomo Balla. Just like the movement says, their paintings are "alive and breathing" in every sense – they will make you feel things!

9. Postmodernism

These books will indeed inspire you

Unfortunately, wars are those moments in history that change people and their future, and there's no way to turn back. They influence everyone and everything and leave no one untouched. That's how literature turned to postmodernism after all the conflicts – it's a genre that focuses on irony and skepticism, and it trusts no one!

Our number one recommendation from this era is obviously Jorge Luis Borges, the famous Argentinian writer that posthumously got his Nobel Prize in literature. He was heavily influenced by Kafka, and you can clearly notice that in his iconic short stories. These masterpieces made him one of the most crucial writers of the 20th century!

8. Decadent Movement

Wilde was treated like a human God, and that's how he behaved

With the moral decay in the middle of the 19th century, realism was quickly replaced with decadence, which readily found its roots in literature. This movement's characters and writers were somehow more amoral than immoral, and they pretty much resemble the "don't try this at home" phrase!

The artist who had the most iconic life ever and created a must-read art is definitely Oscar Wilde. By every characteristic he had, this man was born for the age he lived in. His compelling novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray," is every writer's dream because of its memorable character and an unforgettable story. Once you discover it, you'll want more and more from this movement!

7. Lake Poets

Taylor Swift made a whole album inspired by these poets

William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge are two poets that worked together on "Lyrical Ballads," a poetry collection that you never knew you needed! These genius minds actually belonged to Romanticism. Still, being as iconic as their inspiration is, they got their own movement named after the Lake District, the area that influenced their work.

Luckily, these poets are in focus even today, and they were introduced to the young generations, mainly thanks to Taylor Swift. If you didn't listen to your literature teacher at school, you obviously listened to Swift's iconic quarantine album "folklore" and the bonus track "the lakes." The song was deeply inspired by the names we mentioned above, so check it out!

6. Magical Realism

You'll like at least a half of her recommendations if this genre fits you!

While we're reading, we all want to feel some magic in the air, don't we? Not everything has to be realistic because fiction allows us to be free from boundaries. That's what magical realism as a movement gave to the world. Moreover, it's contradictory since it has to do with realism, but in a whole different sense.

Of course, all these contradictions were inspiring to many writers, and this genre still significantly impacts young artists. Most of these writers were influenced by Franz Kafka, who tried the genre out in many of his short stories. Gabriel García Márquez is one of the writers you shouldn't skip, especially his best work, "One Hundred Years of Solitude!"

5. Expressionism

You definitely know the painting you see in this thumbnail!

In the 21st century, the phrase "express yourself" is even overused since all we can think of is being different, rebellious, wild, and effortlessly yourself. In art, the world already had a movement that resembles this mood – expressionism craved for rage, conveying emotions and showing them openly!

Luckily, this movement was so influential that it took over Europe and many of the artistic fields as well. Besides literature, you can find expressionism in music and various paintings – Edvard Munch's "The Scream" is the one you should know. Expressionism feels so close to our century... We guess that's why it's loved way too much now!

4. Realism

The 19th century kept it realistic

We've already mentioned magical realism, but what about the original genre that has nothing to do with fiction? Unlike expressionism that we just mentioned, emotions don't play a role in literature like this. Instead, it's focused on facts and showcases some recurring themes in life, such as social class or family issues.

Even though it seems simple, this genre gave us some of the greatest novels of all time. Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina," Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment," and Honoré de Balzac's "Père Goriot," are only a few fantastic examples of how deep roots realism had in various cultures and lands. It left a trace in literature, and it will never be forgotten.

3. Romanticism

Lord Byron feels so alive since his influence lives on

Finally, we've come to the Romantic movement, one of those hedonistic paths in literature, those that have a vulnerable heart and a wanderlust's soul. From Germany's Goethe to Russia's Pushkin, this genre traveled the whole world, just like realism. However, it gave us a whole different side of literature – the sensitive part of a person and all their fears, dreams, and wishes.

Moreover, this age had its iconic character – A Byronic hero, who is actually far from heroic traits. He's a wanderlust, individualist, afraid of the world or simply abandoned, and he's searching for the meaning somewhere far away. This kind of character is beloved even today, and it's still a huge inspiration. Romanticism will never fade away!

2. Stream of Consciousness

There isn't any book by Woolf that disappoints – she is the top tier

Nowadays, we'd call this genre a technique instead, but it undoubtedly created a whole literary movement because of its influential examples. We bet you'd never imagine a contemporary book without a self-reflective character and insight into their emotions and inner state. That's something literature didn't have before James Joyce and William Faulkner!

Joyce is well-known for his revolutionary novel "Ulysses," but we recommend his short stories collection, "Dubliners," even more! A brilliant mind that tried out this genre was Virginia Woolf as well. From "The Waves" to "Mrs. Dalloway," her novels have no skips, and her characters feel so relatable that you won't stop coming back to them.

1. Symbolism

This genre is so close to today's poetry, and we love that!

Symbols are the best way to stay mysterious but transmit a message the way you wish. Is there any better way to create poetry? We don't think so since symbolism really had it all and influenced all the further generations. Even today, we have so many artists that keep the poem's meaning hidden behind symbols!

Ages before we discovered metaphorically hidden meanings, the French poets created this genre in literature in the 19th century. Stéphane Mallarmé, Arthur Rimbaud, and Paul Valéry were so influential that they even had a massive impact on Edgar Allan Poe, one of the biggest names in literature!

After all, you should get to know even the genres that we didn't mention here. Literature is a massive movement itself, and all of its parts are a piece of a puzzle that you have to know to understand the world better. Literature has always followed history, politics, wars, and every world event, so it resembles reality a lot! Plus, in the form of books, it's a perfect gift.

What's your favorite literary movement? Do you think these genres are better than contemporary ones? Let us know your preferences!

Photo: Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash


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