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Brazilian literature

Independence and Nineteenth-Century Literary Movements

Independence from Portugal in 1822 fostered national feeling and ushered in the romantic era, which is generally dated from the appearance in 1836 of volumes of poetry by Domingos José Gonçalves de Magalhães, and by Manuel de Araújo Porto-Alegre. The two major Brazilian romantic poets were Antônio Gonçalves Dias, who glorified the indigenous people and the native soil, and Antônio de Castro Alves, a leader in the fight for the abolition of slavery. Alves's social awareness introduced a new dimension into the nascent "Brazilianism." A more introspective mood was created by Alvares de Azevedo. The romantic era also witnessed the birth of the novel in Brazil, notably O Guarani (1857) by José de Alencar and the later Iracema (1865).

A realist note was sounded by Manuel Antônio de Almeida in Memórias de um sargento de milícias (2 vol., 1854–55) and by Alfredo d'Escragnolle Taunay in his novel Inocência (1872). The works of the man generally considered the greatest of Brazilian writers, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, were in the same realist vein. His novels and short stories are noted for their psychological depth and classic purity of style. Contemporary with Machado de Assis were the Parnassian poets, headed by Olavo Bilac, but theirs was an isolated trend. Seven years before the appearance of Bilac's Poesias, Aluísio de Azevedo had published O Mulato (1881), a novel that dealt in naturalistic fashion with the Brazilian scene.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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