- From the origins to the romantic movement
According to best-medical-schools, the Jesuit J. de Anchieta, in the 16th century, is the first Brazilian writer; few other names are remembered for that period (GP de Magalhães, Brazil Teixeira, F. Cardim). During the 17th century Brazilian culture is still essentially linked to the Iberian world: AL Vieira is Portuguese by birth and training and G. de Matos, generally considered the first Brazilian poet, is influenced by the Spanish Baroque. A decisive reaction occurs in the second half of the century. 18th with the ‘escola mineira’, from the name of its geographical center Minas Gerais, moved to the discovery of indigenous sources of inspiration; to it belong CM da Costa, J. de Santa Rita Durão, author of Caramuru (1785), JB da Gama, author of the poem O Uruguai (1769). The writers of the ‘escola mineira’ precede the exaltation of local ethnic values which acquires importance in the 19th century in the romantic movement and takes strength from the new political ideologies. The ‘Indianist’ poetry of A. Gonçalves Dias is pervaded with fertile imagination and painful sensitivity; JM de Alencar exalts with his works (O Guaraní, 1857) the human qualities of the Brazilian people, starting the great tradition of the national novel. A. de Castro Alves concludes the Brazilian romantic movement with his poetry and its openness to new social problems (in particular the anti-slavery struggle) widens in the political commitment of J. Nabuco’s proseand R. Barbosa. The brilliant work of JM Machado de Assis has been released from every literary school and current.
- Movements of the late nineteenth century
The European literary currents of the end of the century are also reflected in Brazil: the orientations of positivist criticism have an echo in the work of T. Barreto and S. Romero; the three main figures of Brazilian Parnassianism are R. Correia, O. Bilacand A. de Oliveira; the poetry of J. da Cruz and Sousa and that of A. de Guimarães dominate the symbolist movement. One of the most original aspects of naturalism in Brazil is the movement called sertanism (sertão indicates the immense, partly unexplored regions of the interior of the country), of which A. Arinos and HM Coelho Neto they are the most representative figures; the same thematic innovation, in E. da Cunha, is impregnated with social issues. The link between symbolism and the current of Brazilian ‘modernism’ is the novelist and essayist J. Pereira da Graça Aranha.
- Currents of twentieth-century literature
The modernism is perhaps the richest phase of the entire Brazilian literature, held since 1922 in close collaboration with the European movements of the century; MR de Morais Andrade was the most representative figure; alongside him the avant-garde JO de Sousa Andrade. Inserted in the broader current of modernism is the ‘Northeast’ movement of which the sociologist G. de Melo Freyre is both the theorist and the greatest representative (we also remember: J. de Lima, G. Ramos, JA de Almeida, J. Lins do Rêgo, É. Verissimo and J. Amado, destined for great international success). J. Guimarães Rosa remains isolated from literary currents and controversies, a prominent figure in fiction. For opera, M. Bandeira, M. Mendes and C. Drummond de Andrade should be mentioned.
The second post-war period sees Brazilian literature in the process of transformation; the new generation focuses on anguished metaphysical meditation, influenced by existentialism, or on formal research. It is the so-called generation of 1945, which presents some poets of considerable moral intensity and stylistic refinement such as JP Moreira da Fonseca, M. Konder Reis, D. Damasceno and D. Carvalho da Silva. The most important figure of post-war poetry remains J. Cabral de Melo Neto, in whom social and revolutionary commitment returns to manifest itself. The influence of concretism is remarkable, a movement founded in San Paolo by the brothers A. and H. de Campos, which tends towards a poetry of pure signs, essentially visual. Also worth mentioning is the historian S. Buarque de Holanda, P. Nava and V. de Moraes, poet-rhapsode and bossa nova singer.
Fiction has a period of crisis after the war: the fall of regionalist and revolutionary realism in the 1930s and 1940s leads to a preference for a strongly internalized and symbolic expression. Significant authors of this period are L. Cardoso, C. Penaand C. Lispector. With the 1960s we witness the appearance of narrators characterized by crudeness and often by expressive violence (A. Callado, I. de Layola Brandão, CH Cony). Dramatic literature undergoes a notable development; remember the cyclical dramas of J. Andrade, to which the expressionist theater of N. Rodrigues, the popular theater of A. Suassuna and the social theater of G. Guarnieri must be compared.
- Last decades of the twentieth century
In the 1980s, the hard political commitment assumed by the great majority of writers after the military coup of 1964 was replaced by memorial, individual and family literature. The reintegration into international dialogue contributes to a widening of borders for local intelligence and to a greater knowledge of Brazilian cultural reality for the rest of the world, despite the risk of a thematic and stylistic leveling with an adaptation to the great European and North American models. There are, however, parallels, a dislocation and a diffusion for the whole body of the immense national territory of cultural centers once represented only by the Rio de Janeiro-San Paolo axis and now present in universities, in the daily press and in publishing houses scattered from the lands of the South to the North-East of Recife and Bahia up to the Amazon. With the disappearance of many of the most significant exponents of the previous generation, characters such as J. Amado, R. de Queirós or J. Montello, but also writers such as R. Fonseca emerge, a master of mystery in the Carioca way, as well as a lover of a historical environmental novel that makes him the leader of new writers withdrawn like him on reality national team, including AM Miranda. The voices of M. Scliar, M. Hatoum are their counterpoint from the South and many writers and poetesses are also highlighted, from R. de Queirós to L. Fagundes Telles and N. Piñón, all of whom have reached the honors of Academia brasileira de letras, or even ‘difficult’ poets, creators of their own form, beyond any thematic and stylistic tradition, such as the aforementioned J. Cabral de Melo Neto. The result is a literature of minorities who are finally seeking their collective national identity in difference.