Portugal Literature

It is not difficult to detect in Portuguese literature, through its history of eight centuries, some essential characters:

1. Predomination of lyricism, understood as a preference for the love life and for the passionate and personal problems of the artist. This lyricism, which was born immediately in the century. XII, with accents that will never die out, accompanies the Portuguese literary history, up to the decadence during the century. XVII, and invades the most varied literary genres, even those apparently distant from properly lyric poetry, such as the epic, the theater, the novel, the mystic and even the philosophical attitude. –

2. But, although lyrical subjectivism is the common garment that envelops almost all Portuguese literature, nevertheless what gives it a more broadly human interest is the presence of a cycle of works and literary motifs aroused by seafaring, explorer and colonizing activity, since this constitutes the expression of the most original and most universal experience found in the national history of Portugal: the circumnavigation of Africa, the discovery of the Atlantic islands and of the sea route to India and the Far East, travel to the West, land exploration and circumnavigation. For these reasons it will be necessary to reassess the vision of the Portuguese sixteenth century, which is precisely the era in which this geographical cycle flourishes. Far from cultural hotbeds, without cooperating in intellectual activity with much importance, but feeling and implementing one of the most typical imperatives of the spirit of the Renaissance, which was geographical knowledge, Portugal, not very Italianizing, but a very navigator, he had a sixteenth century of dual character: an intense and original expression of life, which never came to be real literature (colonial historiography, maritime peripli, reports of shipwrecks, itineraries of land journeys, African, Asian and American exoticisms, embryonic ethnographies, etc.) and, on the other hand, imitation literature, which never came to be life (epics, sonnets, eclogues, songs, classical comedies, pastoral poetry, Italianisms, etc.). The immediate consequence of this vision of the sixteenth century is that the poets who imitate, directly and indirectly, Homer, Horace, Virgil, Dante and Petrarch, take to the background, and instead the authors of the genres derived from maritime and land travel, from the conquests, from this spirit of geographical knowledge. Lusiadas idealized the victory of man over nature, finding the concrete life of geographical exploration and that accomplished artistic expression that the Renaissance aspired to. –

3. According to itypejob, from the immediate influence of the Lusiadas (1572) comes the epic taste, the megalomaniac nostalgia of the Portuguese spirit; and this epic spirit is documented not only in the several dozen heroic poems from the century. XVI to XIX, but communicates its magniloquent and hyperbolic tone to many other genres and converges in the type of the historical memorial, that is, in the preference for remembering the greatness of the past. This chronicle translates the acute drama of the national conscience: great audacity of conception and limited ability to execute, as is the case with the great unfinished works of historical literature, those of F. Bernardo de Brito (1569-1617) and his successors, of João de Barros, Faria and Sousa (1590-1649), Herculano, Oliveira Martins, Pinheiro Chagas and Theophilo Braga. –

4. Without strong impulse for the psychological struggle, for the drama, at first contemplative and curious about himself, the Portuguese spirit creates a profound lyric, but does not know how to create a powerful dramatic. Portuguese theater is scarce, apart from the main of the primitive playwrights of the Iberian Peninsula, Gil Vicente, who created a new dramatic form typical of Spanish countries. But a great lyric poet is also implicit in this primitive playwright: and all those valuable works that represent attempts at dramatic restoration are imbued with lyricism: Castro (1550) by Antonio Ferreira; Lycore of Quita (1728-1770); Assembly ou partida of Garção; Um auto de Gil Vicente(1837) and Frei Luiz de Sousa (1844) by Garrett; A morgadinha de Valflor (1869) by Pinheiro Chagas; Os velhos (1893) by João da Camara; Leonor Telles (1889) by Marcellino Mesquita; At ceia dos cardeaes (1902) by Julio Dantas. –

5. Philosophical and critical activity, understood as the interpretation of the great problems of consciousness and the organization of general ideas, is not typical of the Portuguese climate. The hypercritical, the demolishing spirit, the militant attitudes are indeed sterile forms of Portuguese life; but the strictly philosophical meditation is not of the Portuguese taste and tradition. There is therefore no philosophy, apart from particular contributions to Iberian philosophy. Of course, the general movements of ideas always have their reflections in the Portuguese soul, but the most important moments of its original restlessness can be reduced to the following: the didactic synthesis of Pedro Julião or Pedro Hispano, pope under the name of John XXI, the which Summulae logicales they will exert a large influence; the frank defense of Aristotle made by Antonio de Gouvêa (1565-1628), in Paris, in the famous controversy with Pierre de la Ramée; Francisco Sanches’ program of critical skepticism, Quod nihil scitur (1581); the dialectic of Platonic love, Dialogos do amor (1535), by Leone Ebreo; the commentaries on Aristotle by Pedro de Fonseca and his collaborators of the “Philosophia conimbricense”, the last defenders of scholasticism; and finally, of all the philosophy of the century. XIX, the admirable essays of Anthero de Quental, who lucidly interpreted all the ideas of his time and came to formulate his own philosophy. –

6. The great intellectual difference of the Portuguese population and the extreme subjectivism of the authors have created an environment of difficulty in literature, especially for its diffusion. Portuguese literary art has always been foreign to the general public, as an esoteric expression of an aristocracy. –

7. The weakness of critical and philosophical thought determines a certain mysticism of thought and feeling, that is, it is the intermediary of the alogic, of the instinctive, of fatalism, of the vague and irrational tendency. The “sebastianist” prophecy (so called because it is formed on the death of Don Sebastiano, who mysteriously disappeared in 1578 in the battle of Alcázar quebir); the “miguelism” of the century. XIX, built around the infant Michele, representative of political absolutism; recent “integralism” and uncertain nationalism are different forms of the same traditional disease. –

8. Another consequence of the characteristics discussed up to now is the psychological dispersion of Portuguese art, which is much poorer in human types than Spanish. The gallery of types of Portuguese literature is very modest in number and, indeed, consists of single exceptions. But if he doesn’t have an abundant society of human types, however it includes masterful evocations of moods, spiritual tendencies, multiple and profound situations. Few have expressed the emotion of the unknown world and the painful contrasts of amorous passion more eloquently than Camões; or they translated the terror of abandonment in the desert seas more faithfully than the anonymous chroniclers of the Historia tragico – maritima ; or the desperation of betrayed love, which transfigures and reveals moral depths, more effectively than the Cartas (1669) of Sister Marianna Alcoforado (1640-1723). The exuberant fickle and contradictory romantic sentimentality of Garrett’s Viagens na minha terra (1846) and Folhas cahidas (1853) arouse admiration ; the anxiety of the simple life, of all the novels of Julio Diniz, champion of the rustic life and of the simplicity of the soul; the re-enactment of the Edenic primitiveness of the Simples (1892) by Guerra Junqueiro.

As soon as it was established, the Portuguese nation had to obey a constant centrifugal trend with respect to the Iberian world, since its constitution was undermined by geographical, ethnic, linguistic and religious differences; in its archaic phase, Portuguese was the common language of Galicia. To resist the continuous threat of absorption, Portugal sought external supports, which were subsequently the papacy (under whose aegis its separation from the kingdom of León took place), during the 12th-14th centuries, the sea, during the 15th and 16th centuries, and the English alliance from the beginning of the Braganza dynasty to the present. The sea was the most valid fulcrum of Portuguese life, because it gave it economic resources and moral influence, through which Portugal was able to erect itself with dignity before the papal curia and to form a ” a rich and regular flowering in its development, starting from anonymous works and arriving at the most vigorous individualities, with a great variety of genres and with profound and different influences, Portuguese literature seems to reserve its creative forces for the century. XVI, the heroic century. a rich and regular flowering in its development, starting from anonymous works and arriving at the most vigorous individualities, with a great variety of genres and with profound and different influences, Portuguese literature seems to reserve its creative forces for the century. XVI, the heroic century.

Portugal Literature