Meaning of '98, GENERATION OF in English

'98, GENERATION OF

also called Generation Of 1898, Spanish Generacin del '98, or Generacin del 1898 in Spain, the novelists, poets, essayists, and thinkers active at the time of the Spanish-American War (1898), who reinvigorated Spanish letters and restored Spain to a position of intellectual and literary prominence that it had not held for centuries. The shock of Spain's defeat in the war, which left it stripped of the last vestiges of its empire and its international prestige, provided an impetus for many writers and thinkers to embark on a period of self-searching and an analysis of Spain's problems and its destiny. The term Generation of '98 was used loosely at the turn of the century but was elaborated by the literary critic Azorn (q.v.) in critical essays that appeared in various periodicals and were collected in his Clsicos y modernos (1913). It was soon generally applied to the writers who concerned themselves with Spain's heritage and its position in the modern world. Never an organized movement or school, the Generation of '98 worked in diverse fields and styles and rarely agreed on approaches or solutions to Spain's problems, but all had in common a desire to shake the Spanish people out of what they saw as apathy and to restore a sense of national pride. Joaqun Costa, ngel Ganivet, and Miguel de Unamuno are generally considered precursors of the Generation of '98, but many literary historians consider Ganivet and, usually, Unamuno as members of the group proper. Other outstanding figures were Azorn himself, the philosopher and critic Jos Ortega y Gasset, the novelists Po Baroja, Vicente Blasco Ibez, and Ramn Mara del Valle-Incln, and the poets Antonio Machado y Ruiz and Manuel Machado y Ruiz (qq.v.). In their revitalization of Spanish letters, they brought a new seriousness of purpose to the Spanish novel and elevated the essay-critical, psychological, philosophical-to a position of literary importance. At the same time, they brought to Spain an awareness of foreign trends in literature and thought that enabled the Spanish people to reassess their own values in the context of the modern world, thus awakening a national consciousness that paved the way for Spanish cultural development in the 20th century.

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