Slow and difficult, Spanish colonization in Paraguay was limited for centuries to very few urban centers. In 1790 there were three, and the main one, Asunción, did not reach 7000 residents. The majority of the indigenous population, the Guaraní, had been organized by the Jesuits in the famous reducciones (reductions), villages created for the purpose of safeguarding the natives from the raids of the Spanish and Portuguese conquerors and kept strictly isolated and independent, where some books, simple catechisms or linguistic studies due to the religious themselves were also printed. When the Jesuits were expelled (1767), the Guaraní were left to fend for themselves; a Caroline college founded in Asunción at the end of the century. XVIII only partially replaced the Jesuit schools. The situation did not improve in the century. XIX: there were no Spanish-speaking writers, while the Guaraní limited themselves to continuing their lyric-musical and fabulous traditions (very rich, as contemporary scholars are demonstrating). Basically we cannot speak of a literature of Paraguay before the century. XX; moreover, it is often bilingual literature and is closely linked to the situation in the country. In fact, the case of the writer forced into temporary or definitive exile is frequent. Linked to the modernist aesthetic are the two poets Alejandro Guanes (1872-1925) and Eloy Fariña Núñez (1885-1929), who lived in Argentina, where he published the epic Canto secular (1911), Mitos guaraníes, stories, plays and essays. Later writers grouped around two magazines: Crónica (1913-15) and Juventud (1923-25).
They include Guillermo Molinas Rolón (1889-1945), the popular Manuel Ortiz Guerrero (1897-1933), who re-released the song in Guaraní in collaboration with the inspired musician José A. Flores; the storytellers Leopoldo Centurión (1893-1922) and Roque Capace Faraone (1894-1928), and above all Natalicio González (1897-1966) who was also president of the Republic, indigenist poet (Motivos de la tierra escarlata, 1952), narrator of myths and legends (Cuentos y parábolas) or sociological intentions (The wandering raíz, 1953). An important figure is also Josefina Pla (1909-1999), Spanish by origin, poet, narrator and playwright, whose anthology La llama y la arena was published in 1987, containing mostly unpublished works from the years 1935-85. Among the writers exiled for political reasons are the narrator Gabriel Casaccia (1907-1980), author of various successful novels including La Babosa (1952) and Los herederos (published for the first time at home in 1990, after the Barcelona edition of 1973); Elvio Romero (1927-2004), narrator, critic, but above all poet (De cara al corazón, 1953; Un relámpago herigo, 1967); Rubén Bareiro (b. 1930), founder of the Alcor magazine , poet but also skilled prose writer (Ojo por diente, 1972; Il séptimo pétalo del aire, 1984); Augusto Roa Bastos (1917-2005), one of the most interesting voices in Hispano-American literature, author of two important novels, Hijo de hombre (1960) and Yo el Supremo (1974) and of an opera collection, El naranjal ardiente (1960).
Winner in 1989 of the prestigious Cervantes Prize for literature, according to thefreegeography, he continued to publish novels and short stories of great interest and literary value (El fiscal, 1993; Contravida, 1994) even if it no longer reaffirmed the success of the “Supreme” Loneliness, alienation, anguish, incommunicability are the chosen themes of the opera of the sixties and seventies, from Ramiro Domínguez (b. 1930) to José Luis Appleyard (1927 -1998), with her vibrant denunciation of the inhuman condition of contemporary living, to Sara Karlik (b.1935). Subsequent generations included operas such as Roque Vallejos (1943-2006), René Dávalos (1945-1968), G. Rodríguez Alcalá (b.1946), Adolfo Ferreiro (b.1946), Amanda Pedrozo (b.1955), although both however, the best fruits have always come from exile, such as Estancias / Errancias / Querencias (1982) by Rubén Bereiro, Ceniza redimida by Hérib Campos (1905-1953) and El viejo fuego by Elvio Romero. Between the end of the twentieth century. and the early 2000s, other poets have also been noted, such as Ricardo de la Vega (b.1956), Jacobo Rauskin (b.1941), and novelists, including Renée Ferrer (b.1944; Desde el encendido corazón del monte, 1994), Helio Vera (1946-2008; author of the humorous Diccionario Contrera, 1994), Delfina Acosta (b.1956; also poet and author of La Cruz del Colibrí, 1993).
The geographical characteristics of Paraguay and its troubled and painful history (colonization, dictatorship, isolation), not only reflect the current socio-economic conditions, but also the cultural situation of the country. If a true opening towards the outside cannot yet be said to be complete, the inaction of past decades has nevertheless contributed to the survival, often in uncontaminated forms, of indigenous traditions and customs, often linked to the centrality of the family. Popular festivals, then, with costumes, music, dances, Guaraní rites, are still very widespread; an exception is constituted by the religious sphere, where there is a strong presence of mixtures between ancient and modern practices. Literature, and in particular that related to the theater, is luxuriant, and the representation of the works in Guaraní is a real show in which many of the elements of Indian folklore come together; on another front, the best pages and reflections on Paraguay have come from the authors in exile. The development of the figurative arts is essentially a phenomenon of the twentieth century, but the first to import and disseminate modern painting techniques and concepts in Paraguay were two Italians at the end of the nineteenth century. In the architectural field, great interest is aroused by what remains of the so-called “Jesuit-Guaraní” production, consisting of buildings and churches, precisely, of the missions The development of the figurative arts is essentially a phenomenon of the twentieth century, but the first to import and disseminate modern painting techniques and concepts in Paraguay were two Italians at the end of the nineteenth century. In the architectural field, great interest is aroused by what remains of the so-called “Jesuit-Guaraní” production, consisting of buildings and churches, precisely, of the missions The development of the figurative arts is essentially a phenomenon of the twentieth century, but the first to import and disseminate modern painting techniques and concepts in Paraguay were two Italians at the end of the nineteenth century. In the architectural field, great interest is aroused by what remains of the so-called “Jesuit-Guaraní” production, consisting of buildings and churches, precisely, of the missions Jesuit, became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Even in the most popular pastimes and sports, as well as in cooking, centuries-old traditions persist. The capital Asunción is also the cultural heart of the country, hosting museums, art galleries, the conservatory and institutions such as the National Academy of Fine Arts and the Asunción Symphony Orchestra.