The literature of Mexico originated from the concepts of the Amerindian and Spanish settlements of Mesoamerica. Outstanding colonial writers and poets include Juan Ruiz de Alarcon and Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz.
The Mestizaje of the literature of the colonial period is evident in the incorporation of numerous local terms and in some of the themes that are touched upon in works of the period.
Toward the end of the colonial period there emerged figures such as Jose Joaquin Fernandez de Lizardi, whose work is considered emblematic of Mexican picaresque. Due to the political instability of the 19th century, Mexico—already an independent nation—saw a decline not only in its literature but in the other arts as well. During the second half of the 19th century Mexican literature became revitalized with works such as Los Mexicanos Pintados Por Si Mismos, a book that gives us an approximate idea of how intellectuals of the period saw their contemporaries. Toward the end of the century Mexican writers adopted the common tendencies of the period. Two modernist poets that stand out are Amado Nervo and Manuel Gutierrez Najera.
Toward the end of the 20th century Mexican literature had become diversified in themes, styles and genres. In 1990 Octavio Paz became the first Mexican and up until this point the only one to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.