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History of Philippine Literature

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History of Philippine Literature

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  • March 2008
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The diversity and richness of Philippine literature evolved side by side with the country's history. This can best be appreciated in the context of the country's pre-colonial cultural traditions and the socio-political histories of its colonial and contemporary traditions. During the Commonwealth Period, a new set of colonizers brought about new changes in Philippine literature. New literary forms such as free verse [in poetry], the modern short story and the critical essay were introduced. American influence was deeply entrenched with the firm establishment of English as the medium of instruction in all schools and with literary modernism that highlighted the writer's individuality and cultivated consciousness of craft, sometimes at the expense of social consciousness. While the early Filipino poets grappled with the verities of the new language, Filipinos seemed to have taken easily to the modern short story as published in the Philippines Free Press, the College Folio and Philippines Herald. Paz Marquez Benitez's "Dead Stars" published in 1925 was the first successful short story in English written by a Filipino. Later on, Arturo B. Rotor and Manuel E. Arguilla showed exceptional skills with the short story. Alongside this development, writers in the vernaculars continued to write in the provinces. Others like Lope K. Santos, Valeriano Hernandez Peña and Patricio Mariano were writing minimal narratives similar to the early Tagalog short fiction called dali or pasingaw (sketch). The romantic tradition was fused with American pop culture or European influences in the adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan by F. P. Boquecosa who also penned Ang Palad ni Pepe after Charles Dicken's David Copperfield even as the realist tradition was kept alive in the novels by Lope K. Santos and Faustino Aguilar, among others. It should be noted that if there was a dearth of the Filipino novel in English, the novel in the vernaculars continued to be written...

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