Literary costumbrismo is a minor genre of Spanish literature most popular in the 19th century. It is the literary counterpart to the artistic movement known as costumbrismo, which depicted social customs often without analysis or critique. Its style is similar to literary realism. In its most popular and least intellectual form, it describes the commonplace and ordinary aspects of daily life. Appearing in prose and hardly ever in verse, it reached its peak with the novel of manners and in the minor genre called custom picture in journalism. In theater it manifested in the comedy of manners and sainete, a continuation of the earlier entremés.In England, Richard Steele (1672–1729), who published The Tatler, and Joseph Addison (1672–1719), the co-founder of The Spectator magazine, were costumbrist writers and both of them have been considered the inventors of what they themselves called Essay or Sketch of manners. While costumbrist pieces are meant as popular entertainment, there can often be an undercurrent of criticism or satire beneath the surface.
In the 20th century, the Quintero brothers are noted for their Andalusian costumbrist comedies and Carlos Arniches for his pieces from Madrid. The costumbrist element appears as fundamental in the expressionist painter and writer José Gutiérez Solana, one of the few costumbrist writers who doesn’t extol the popular aspects but who shows himself brutally critic in, for example, La España negra (The Black Spain,1920)
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