Portugal Literature From the Origins to the 19th Century

From the origins to the 18th century

The origins of Lusitanian literature date back to the 12th century, with a lyrical flowering in the Galician-Portuguese language and largely of Provençal derivation which, from the time of King Sancho I, reached the middle of the 14th century. but capable of producing, alongside aristocratic and well-modeled cantigas de amor, the popular freshness of those de amigo and the pungent satire of the cantigas de escarnho. Three songbooks (preserved respectively in the Ajuda library in Lisbon, in the Vatican and in the Lisbon National Library) are the copious testimony of this, together with other smaller manuscripts.

● According to findjobdescriptions, spirit and courteous forms reach, in the songbook collected in 1516 by G. de Resende, the threshold of the Renaissance, with an artificial yet varied production of content and influences. The prose offers numerous translations, moral and didactic treatises, hagiographic legends, chronicles and stories: the greatest names, those of F. Lopes (14th-15th century) and Edoardo re di Portugal (15th century). Italian imitation, and in particular Petrarchian, opens the Renaissance period with F. de Sá de Miranda, and inspires all the poetic work of B. Ribeiro (both 15th-16th centuries), C. Falcão, A. Ferreira, D. Bernardes (all 16th century). The prose, in addition to the chivalric romances of J. de Barros and F. de Moraes (both 16th century), which have their roots in the novel of controversial origins Amadís de Gaula, offers the exquisite pastoral story of Menina and moça of B. Ribeiro and the intense historical production of J. de Barros, D. de Góis etc. The classical theater of Sá de Miranda and A. Ferreira coexists alongside the national theater created by G. Vicente (15th-16th century), faithfully reflecting the life and society of the time in the vision of a Christian and moralist poet, idealistic and lyrical; Vicente’s work will be continued by numerous followers. L. Vaz de Camões realizes in his songbook the highest form of Lusitanian Petrarchism and organizes in Lusíadas lyrical, tragic, chivalrous, historical and chronicle elements, creating a heroic-lyric warrior poem that consecrates the glorious events and lofty aspirations of a whole people.

● Fallen under the Spanish domination shortly after the tragic end of Don Sebastiano king of Portugal (1578), again independent in 1640, the Portugal presents in the 17th century. literary characteristics identical to those of the rest of the peninsula. The imitation of L. de Góngora is very widespread, as evidenced by the compositions collected by M. Aires da Silva in the Fenix ​​renascida (5 vol., 1716-28), and the research of conceptism, theorized by F. Rodrigues Lobo. FM de Melo and A. Vieira stand out among the writers of this period.

● Lusitanian Arcadia, founded in 1756 and mainly represented by PA Correia Garção, must be considered in the context of the aspirations and reforms that characterize the Enlightenment era of the Marquis of Pombal. However, noteworthy poets flourish outside of this sphere, such as MM Barbosa du Bocage, a preromantic of rich sensitivity and sincerity, FM do Nascimento, L. Almeida de Portugal marquise of Alorna, JA de Macedo etc.

The 19th century

The Arcadian attitude lasted until the early nineteenth century, until JB Almeida Garrett, with the melancholy inspiration of his poetry, gave expression to the new romantic sensibility. In an atmosphere of freedom, literature becomes the terrain on which different currents of thought are confronted. Between 1825 and 1865 vigorous personalities emerge and works of singular importance are produced: Garrett introduces romantic lyricism and historical theater, the group of poets gathered around Trovador (1844) and then Novo Trovador (1851) elaborates a new sensitivity and a new conception of literature, understood as a means of social rebirth and awareness of national identity, together with a new critical sense applied to the phenomena of culture.

● The historical novel, created by A. Herculano, flourishes luxuriantly with J. de Andrade Corvo and A. de Sousa Dantas da Gama; the passionate novel with AP Lopes de Mendonça, FM Bordallo, J. Dinis and above all with C. Castelo Branco. Lisbon, Porto and Coimbra they are the main literary centers. AF de Castilho continues, with exaggeratedly romantic tones, the tradition of Garrett and Herculano. J. de Deus, AT de Quental and JFT Braga are the initiators of realism: the first gives life to a form of simple and passionate lyricism, the second is a poet of painful pessimism, of profound philosophical inspiration and perfect formal elaboration, while the third cultivates historical and political poetry and scholarly inquiry. Prominent figures in this period are G. de Azevedo, AM Guerra Junqueiro, vigorous satirist, and A. D. Gomes Leal, with a delicate lyric accent. JM Eça de Queirós turns his attention to social problems in novels with a strong realist imprint. For the short stories, the production of JV Fialho de Almeida and JF de Trindade Coelho is important, while in the field of criticism the work of JD Ramalho Ortigão stands out; the latter is also distinguished by his travel books, a genre that was widely circulated at this time.

● The symbolist orientations, proposed by the magazines Boémia nova and Os insubmissos (both published in Coimbra since 1889), find their programmatic expression in the collection of verses Oaristos (1890) by E. de Castro and Almeida and in his preface. Poets like A. Nobre, AMA de Oliveira and C. Pessanha are not extraneous to these new influences, while in the theater J. da Câmara, R. Brandão, Teixeira de Pascoais (pseudonym of the writer J. Pereira Teixeira de Vasconcelos) etc. they attempt a poetic drama in imitation of Ibsen.

Portugal Literature From the Origins to the 19th Century