IM-001.GIF (630 bytes)BRAZIL - LITERATURE

The transfer, in 1808, of the Portuguese royal family to Brazil brought with it the spirit of the incipient European Romantic Movement. Brazilian writers began to emphasize individual freedom, subjectivism, and a concern for social issues. Following Brazil's Independence from Portugal, Romantic literature expanded to exalt the uniqueness of Brazil's tropics and its Indians, concern for the African slaves, and to descriptions of urban activities. Some of the best known literature figures of the Romantic Period were poets, such as Castro Alves (1847-1871) who wrote about African slaves and Gonçalves Dias (1823-1864) who wrote about Indians. Manuel Antônio de Almeida (1831-1861) is credited with initiating picaresque literature in Brazil. José de Alencar (1829-1877)wrote a number of popular novels including Iracema aboutIndians, O Guarani, a historical novel, and novels on regional, social, and urban affairs. Among the novelists of the Romantic Period two are still widely read in Brazil today: Joaquim Manuelde Macedo (1820-1882), who wrote A Moreninha, a popular story, and Alfredo d'Escragnolle Taunay (1843-1899), the author of Inocência.

The Parnassian school of poetry was, in Brazil as in France, a reaction to the excesses of the Romantics. The so-called "ParnassianTriad" of Brazilian poets - Olavo Bilac (1865-1918), Raimundo Correa (1860-1911), and Alberto de Oliveira (1859-1937) - wrote refined poetry in which the poet's personality and interest in social issues were obliterated.

Machado de Assis (1839-1908) , widely acclaimed as the greatest Brazilian writer of the 19th century and beyond, was unique because of the universality of his novels and essays. Today, Machado de Assis remains one the most important and influential writers of fiction in Brazil. His works encompassed both the Romantic styleand Realism as exemplified in Europe by Emile Zola and the Portuguese novelist, Eça de Queiroz. The prose of Euclides da Cunha(1866-1908), was committed to a Brazilian literature portraying social realities. His famous work, Os Sertões (Rebellion in the Backlands), about a revolt in the northeast led by a religious fanatic, was published in 1902.

At the turn of the century the Brazilian literary imagination was drawn to Symbolism, represented by poets Cruz e Souza (1861-1893) and Alphonsus de Guimarães (1870-1921). The Symbolists were interested in mysticism and used metaphor and allegory to express their ideas.

Beginning in the 20th century, an innovative state of mind imbued Brazilian artists, culminating in the celebration of the Week of Modern Art in São Paulo. This new way of thinking propelled an artistic revolution what appealed to feelings of pride fornational folklore, history, and ancestry. Participants in the Week of Modern Art resorted to experiments in writing and in finearts known elsewhere as Futurism, Cubism, and Dadaism. Poet Menotti del Pichia summarized the aims of the new artistic movement with these words: "We want light, air, ventilators, airplanes, workers' demands, idealism, motors, factory smokestacks, blood, speed, dream in our Art." The most important leader of the literary phase of this movement was Mário de Andrade (1893-1945)who wrote poetry, essays on literature, art, music, and Brazilian folklore, and Macunaíma, which he called"a rhapsody, not a novel". Oswald de Andrade (1890-1953)wrote a collection of poems entitled Pau-Brasil (Brazilwood)which evaluated Brazilian culture, superstitions, and family life in simple language, economically, and, for the first time in Brazilian poetry, with humor.

The transition to a more spontaneous literary approach is represented by poets Carlos Drummond de Andrade (1902-1987), who used irony to dissect the customs of the time, and Manuel Bandeira (1886-1968),who built language associations around proverbs and popular expressions. Bandeira wanted his last poem "to be eternal, saying the simplest and least intentional things".

The modern Brazilian novel took on a new shape and social content after José Américo de Almeida (l887-l969) wrote A Bagaceira, a pioneer story about the harsh conditions of life in the backward northeast. He was followed by Jorge Amado(1902-), Graciliano Ramos (1892-1953), José Lins do Rêgo(1901-1957), and Rachel de Queiroz (1910-), all noted for the power of their images in evoking the problems and hard ships of life in the northeast region where they were born.

Jorge Amado's first novels, translated into 33 languages, were heavily influenced by his belief in Marxist ideas and concentrated on the sufferings of workers on the cocoa plantations of his homestate of Bahia and on humble fishermen at seaside villages. In the 1950's he opted for a more jovial approach to the joys and sorrows of the middle classes of Bahia, producing a succession of books which have received worldwide acclaim. Gabriela, Cravo e Canela (Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon) is perhaps the bestknown of Amado's books. Dona Flor e seus Dois Maridos (DonaFlor and Her Two Husbands) has provided the scripts for films, plays, and television.

Arguably the most innovative Brazilian writer of his century wasJoão Guimarães Rosa (l908-1967). A career diplomat, he first captured the attention of the public and critics alike with a volume of short stories, Sagarana, soon followed by his best known work Grande Sertão: Veredas,translated into English as The Devil to Pay in the Backlands. Delving deep into speech mannerisms from the hinterland region of the eastern seaboard, Guimarães Rosa started something of a semantic revolution. He dared to present his readers with coined word combinations and syntax so unrestrained as to constitute almost a new language

There are many other noteworthy Brazilian writers. Gilberto Freyre(1900-1987), a master of style and a pioneer of the new school of Brazilian sociologists, is the author of Casa Grande &Senzala (The Masters and The Slaves) a perceptive study of Brazilian society. One of the best known Brazilian poets isJoão Cabral Melo Neto (1918-). His poetry is sober and he uses words with the accuracy with which an engineer would use his building materials. Special mention must be made of Viníciusde Moraes (1913-1980). His poetry became part and parcel of thebossa nova musical movement which produced a new style of samba, that typically Brazilian rhythm. Vinícius(as he is known worldwide) also wrote a play, Orfeu da Conceição,which became internationally famous as the film Black Orpheus.

Among the living or recently deceased novelists, mention should be made of: Orígenes Lessa, Adonias Filho, ÉricoVeríssimo, Dinah Silveira de Queiroz, Lygia Fagundes Telles, Herberto Sales, Rubem Fonseca, Clarice Lispector, Dalton Trevisan,Nélida Piñon, Osman Lins, Edgard Telles Ribeiro, and Moacir Scliar; and among the poets: Raul Bopp, Murilo Mendes, Augusto Frederico Schmidt,Mário Quintana, Cassiano Ricardo, Jorge de Lima, Ferreira Gullar, Cecília Meireles, Augusto de Campos, and Haroldo de Campos.