Modern Languages and Literatures, Department of


Date of this Version

December 1997


Published in Encyclopedia of Latin American Literature, ed. Verity Smith. London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1997. Pages 408– 410. A division of Springer-Verlag BV. Used by permission.


Manual Gutiérrez Nájera, one of Mexico's best-known writers of the 19th century, has traditionally been considered one of four precursors of the Modernist period of Spanish American literature (1875–1925). It was customarily believed that the genesis of Modernismo lay in innovations in poetry, thus it was Nájera's poetic production that received the attention of the critics for a long time. In the past few years, however, after careful examination of the modernist writers' prose works, scholars have discovered not only that the first signs of Modernismo are to be found in prose, but that Nájera's major contribution to the modernist enterprise were his prose pieces.