Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Born into poverty in a Nicaraguan village, Rubén Darío became the most important transformer of the conventional Spanish literature of the nineteenth century. Inspired by French writers, Darío imitated and assimilated the styles and themes of French literature into his works. Raised in the Spanish, Catholic culture, Dario always felt closely connected to his heritage. He felt a similarly strong connection to the sensual life, and he found in experience with women both physical and spiritual comfort. Darío often lived a bohemian lifestyle motivated both by his artistic temperament and economic necessity. Periods of despair provoked bouts of debauchery, which in turn caused him much guilt resulting in periods of intense religiosity.
Existential awareness of the mortal fate of mankind became a preoccupation of his more mature works. His underlying despair, however, was contrasted by a love of life and the beautiful. He felt the tragedy of life could be redeemed by savoring the sensual, embracing the spiritual, and experiencing art. Art represented harmony and tranquillity and soothed the troubled soul of humankind. His innovations in literature resulted in his being recognized as the most outstanding writer of the literary movement Modernismo.