Brazilian literature: The Colonial Period

Upon the discovery of Brazil, the Portuguese began to describe the wonders of the new land. Brazilian literature began with the letter of Pero Vaz de Caminha announcing the discovery to the king of Portugal. That descriptive trend was continued in the 16th and 17th cent. in the works of European missionaries. José de Anchieta wrote in Portuguese about Brazil and is considered the father of Brazilian literature. The dualism of European tradition and New World feeling continued. Many consider the 17th-century Jesuit priest Antônio Vieira (brought to Brazil as a child) the true master of Portuguese prose in the classic style.

In the late 17th cent. the first native Brazilian writer of note, Gregório de Matos Guerra, wrote poetry satirizing the society of his time. During the 18th cent. poetic academies sprang up in various parts of Brazil. The most famous was in Minas Gerais; it included José Basílio da Gama, author of the epic poem O Uraguai (1769), and Tomás Antônio Gonzaga, best known for his pastoral love poem Marília de Dirceu (1792). This group had helped introduce revolutionary ideas from France into Brazil.

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

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