Portuguese literature: The Twentieth Century

The modern period in Portuguese letters dates from the establishment of the republic in 1910. Various writers fostered suadosismo, a cult of nostalgia and regret over an unrecoverable and mythic past. Later writing became more sensitive to developments in other countries. Fernando Pessoa, largely unrecognized during his lifetime, would be acclaimed later as the greatest modern Portuguese poet, and José Régio distinguished himself as a poet and playwright. The novel was cultivated by Aquilino Ribeiro, J. M. Ferreira de Castro, Alves Redol, Fernando Namora, Agustina Bessa Luís, and others.

In the early 1970s Portuguese literary circles were shaken by the publication of a volume of collected notes, stories, letters, and poems by Maria Isabel Barreno, Maria Teresa Horta, and Maria Velho da Costa. Banned because of its erotic and feminist nature, the book was allowed to circulate after the collapse of the Salazar dictatorship in Apr., 1974. In the United States the book was published as The Three Marias: New Portuguese Letters (1975).

Reflecting the influence of French literary theory, Portuguese literature since 1974 has often focused on the linguistic and technical aspects of narrative. Important contemporary novelists include José Cardosa-Piresa, Olga Gonçalves, Lídia Jorge, António Lobo Antunes, and José Saramago, who is internationally recognized as one of the great modern writers of fiction (he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1998). Important poets include Eugénio de Andrade and António Ramos Rosa.

The late 20th cent. also saw the rise of Portuguese literature in Africa: in Angola, the poet Agostinho Neto and the novelist Luadino Vieira; in Mozambique, the novelist Luís Bernardo Howana; in Cape Verde, the novelists Manuel Lopes, Orlanda Amarilis, and Manuel Ferreira.

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

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