Portuguese literature: The Renaissance through the Seventeenth Century

The impact of the Renaissance in Portugal was particularly strong in poetry and drama. The plays of Gil Vicente, who wrote in both Portuguese and Spanish, are infused with the Renaissance spirit, particularly the ideals of humanism. The Italianate school strongly influenced 16th-century Portuguese poetry. The humanist Francisco de Sá de Miranda introduced new poetic forms upon his return from Italy. He, Diogo Bernardes, and others mastered the new forms of lyric poetry, which reached their highest point in the works of Luis de Camões. Camões, known for his national epic Os Lusídas [the Portuguese] (1572), was also the author of a superb body of lyric poems. Sá de Miranda and his followers also introduced the prose comedy and tragedy into Portugal.

The Renaissance saw a spate of writing by historians who chronicled the discoveries and conquests in Africa, Asia, and America. João de Barros ranks among the best of these. The Portuguese Bernardim Ribeiro's pastoral novel Menina e Moça [the book of the young girl] (1554) was certainly the inspiration in part for the Spanish Jorge de Montemayor's Diana (1559), one of the most important novels in Spanish literature. The leading figures of the 17th cent. were the poet Francisco Rodrigues Lobo (1580–1622) and the prose writer Francisco Manuel de Melo (1608–66), whose writings stand out in a century mainly marked by subservience to Spanish form and style, especially Gongorism.

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

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