The tragedy La política del mundo (1809), in which the author Víctor de la Guardia y Ayala attacks Napoleon’s occupation of Spain, is the oldest preserved Panamanian work. The period 1821-1903, when Panama was united with Colombia, was characterized by romance. These included the melancholic Tomás Martín Feuillet and Amelia Denis de Icaza, who made the home and the protest against social injustice motifs for her poetry.
Ricardo Miró (1883–1940), Panama’s perhaps most notable lyricist, joined the “modernist” movement. Demetrio Korsi (1899–1957), with his lyrics, marks a transition to the new avant-garde direction. Foremost among these is Rogelio Sinán (pseudonym of Bernardo Domínguez Alba), who has made himself known both as a lyricist and prose writer.
After World War II, Panamanian lyricism was given a social and political character. Among the leaders are José Franco and Arístides Martínez Ortega. Other lyricists are Elsie Alvarado de Ricord, Augustín del Rosario (b. 1945) and Manuel Orestes Nieto (b. 1951). Mario Augusto Rodríguez is known for his “peasant tales”. José María Sánchez portrays the tropical nature in his short stories, while the politically radical Carlos Francisco Changmarín writes realistic short stories about the exploitation of the peasant population.
The Panamanian novel, first grown in earnest in the early 1940s, usually addresses social issues. Ramón H. Jurado (1922–79) debuted in 1944 with San Cristóbal , which describes the conditions on the sugar plantations. Other novels include Playa honda (1950) by Renato Ozores (b. 1910 in Spain) and Gamboa Road Gang (1960), about racial discrimination in the Channel Zone, by Joaquín Beleño. Lyricist Tristán Solarte (pseudonym of Guillermo Sánchez Borbón) is also known for his psychological novel El ahogado(1957). Other novelists and novelists are Enrique Chuez, Bertalicia Peralta, Pedro Rivera, Enrique Jaramillo Levi and Rafael Leónidas Pernett y Morales. Lyricist José de Jesús Martínez has also made his mark as an actor.