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Culture, Literature

O quinze, Manuel Bandeira, Quincas borba, Autran Dourado, Joao Ubaldo Ribeiro

Brazilian colonial literature followed classical traditions, drawing from Portuguese and Catholic influences. After Brazil attained independence in 1822, artists looked for inspiration from other sources in an effort to create a uniquely Brazilian literary style. Ideas were drawn from French, English, and German literature, which introduced romanticism, a movement in the arts that emphasized a highly imaginative and subjective approach to artistic expression. There was a strong nationalistic element in these writings. A leading figure was Jose de Alencar, who wrote about Brazil and its history. His Iracema (1865; translated as Iracema the Honey-lips, a Legend of Brazil, 1886) portrayed a romance between an indigenous Brazilian princess and a Portuguese colonist.

The major literary figure in the late 19th century was Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, whose works include Quincas borba (1891; Philosopher or Dog?, 1954) and Dom Casmurro (1899; translated 1953). Many of his works provide searching comments on the human condition. Another major novel of this period is Euclides da Cunhaís Os sertoes (1902; Rebellion in the Backlands, 1944), a powerful portrait of rebellion and massacre in the Northeast.

The modernist influence has encouraged an exploration of national character and of distinctive regional cultures, and an interest in social issues. The regional novel has been particularly strong in the Northeast, where an important group of writers have portrayed the nature of the region and the experiences of its people in the cane fields, the dry interior, and in the cities. One of Brazilís most popular novelists, Jorge Amado, wrote about his native state of Bahia in such works as Gabriela, cravo e canela (1958; Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon, 1962), which portrays the experience of migrants from the interior of the Northeast to the cocoa port of Ilheus. Other important regional novels from the Northeast include Graciliano Ramosís Vidas secas (1938; Barren Lives, 1965) and Jose Lins do Regoís Menino de engenho (1932; Plantation Boy, 1966). The countryís first important female novelist, Rachel de Queiroz, wrote about the challenges that women faced in Brazilian society in O quinze (1930; The Year 1915).

Among the best post-1945 writers are Joao Guimaraes Rosa, whose Grande sertao: veradas (1956; Devil to Pay in the Backlands, 1963) provides a powerful portrait of rural life in the interior of Minas Gerais, and Clarice Lispector, best known for her short stories such as Lacos de familia (1960; Family Ties, 1972). Important contemporary writers include Autran Dourado, author of Opera dos Mortos (1967; The Voice of the Dead, 1980); Darcy Ribeiro, author of Maira (1978; translated 1985); and Joao Ubaldo Ribeiro, author of Sergeant Getulio (1977; translated 1980).

In poetry, major figures in the 19th century were Antonio Goncalves Dias and Antonio de Castro Alves, who wrote on native Brazilian themes in their works. Important poets of the modernist movement have been Manuel Bandeira, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, and Jorge de Lima.

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