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- Brazilian Literature , Isaac Goldberg
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It is impossible for me to predict your reaction to Dom Casmurro—the narrator, not the novel. You may be repelled or disgusted. You may like him immensely. You may laugh at him. You may become sad for him. He may remind you of someone you detest. He may remind you of yourself. Whatever your reaction, it will be worth your time. And did Capitu and Escobar commit adultery? No, silly. Capitu and Escobar are fictional characters. They do not exist and never did.
I was glad to be able to get this Brazilian classic in English for free from www. For example, " Butterflies Butterflies are one of the most enchanting parts of Brazilian wildlife. In Brazil, there is an impressive variety of 3, species, the majority of which are found in the Amazon. You get the chance to see their delicate flight, the designs on their wings and even their mating rituals. One I particularly liked was when Bentinho is describing when he and Caputa first realized that they were in love: "Do not criticize us, unfortunate captain, hearts aren't sailed like the other seas in this world.
The basic plot could have been written by Hardy or Gaskell but the flavor would have been completely different. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Never before in reading any novel have I ever felt so much a character IN the novel. I am "dear Lady. In the early stages of the novel, it was if I was sitting down on the front porch with a kindly old uncle and given tea and cakes and told a charming story.
Oh he was so in love. Oh he loved his mother so much He was, as someone pointed out, seducing me. And then I was listening to the story, so amusing, so self-effacing, when I was a little taken aback. Surely, you don't mean to tell me you almost poisoned your son? Surely, that is an exaggeration. Your other episodes of jealousy were easily-explained, so why do you go this far? And then he banished his wife and child, and they died. They just died. He told it so unemotionally. Wait a minute. This can't be YOU, you are so passionate.
Give me some emotion! Nope, they just died. And I almost threw down the book. That's not the old uncle I know. He wouldn't do that. So I was really fooled, and that's what I think Bento was doing. He was writing this book to seduce us the "ladies" would be more suspicious of him, so he had to proceed carefully. He was trying to justify himself for being Othello. So, even with Michael's careful explanation of what we can expect from unreliable narrators, I think this narrator is in a class all by himself.
Which makes the book much more brilliant than I originally suspected. I would love if someone wrote a book from Capitu's point of view. I really wanted to know what happened to her. Jul 25, Mary Soderstrom rated it it was amazing. Don't know whether I would have read this book had I not taken a Portuguese course as part of my continuing work on Portugal and the continuing influence of the Portuguese around the world.
But this classic novel by a 19th century autodidact and grandson of a slave was required reading. What a delight! The narrator is an old and crotchety member of the elite of Rio da Janeiro in the s to s. He expects us to take at face value his tale--of how he had been promised to the priesthood at birt Don't know whether I would have read this book had I not taken a Portuguese course as part of my continuing work on Portugal and the continuing influence of the Portuguese around the world.
He expects us to take at face value his tale--of how he had been promised to the priesthood at birth, how he wiggled his way out of that, married his childhood sweetheart, became extremely successful and then had his world crash around him. We can't be sure he's telling the truth about his lifle, but the picture he paints of a fascinating and sophisticated society rings clear. This is a book that will entertain and inform. Jul 26, Tina added it. I read this in the original language, Portuguese, and had some trouble as I am "a beginner in Portuguese", but it was well worth the trouble, I think.
A true Brazilian classic. Picking this up was one of those situations where I was looking for something off my personal stacks to take with me on an international trip, something slow and engrossing, to help me relax at night before turning out the light. I chose Dom Casmurro because so many of my friends whom I trust have rated it so highly. Not only do I agree with most of them, I read this rather quickly during my trip - as in, most of it before I even got to Ireland, so I was able to leave this behind for the Trini Picking this up was one of those situations where I was looking for something off my personal stacks to take with me on an international trip, something slow and engrossing, to help me relax at night before turning out the light.
Not only do I agree with most of them, I read this rather quickly during my trip - as in, most of it before I even got to Ireland, so I was able to leave this behind for the Trinity College housekeeping staff to do with it whatever they wished to do. Hopefully that includes reading it and passing it around and then leaving it for some other passing student. One of the most beautifully written unreliable narrator novels I've read in a long time, the story is actually so common and basic that to give a rundown of it makes it sound like a thousand books written before and since.
How ever could it distinguish itself from the others? The unreliability of the narrator is key, of course. Oh, the depths of love, the depths of transgression. For a book written in , it feels considerably Relatable, somehow. I think this was the author's skill at writing this common story of love-gone-wrong, that somehow, math-many-years-later I can read this and be like "Shit, yeah. It's considered a master of realist fiction - again, I think, contributes to how readable the book as a whole is.
There's a whole chapter don't panic, the chapters in this book are very short, comfortably so about the narrator brushing his love's hair. It's lovely, in the same way reading the narrator's feelings for Odette in Swann's Way , a recaptured innocence in the face of love, blah blah blah. More than once I was reminded of Proust, except Dom Casmurro is less soporific because the sentences don't go on for 25 years.
Also similarly is the feeling of growing out of that young naivety and innocence and into, what, the monsters we become as adults: Still, a different life does not mean a worse life; it is just not the same. In certain respects, that old life now appears stripped of much of the enchantment I found in it; but it has also lost many a spine that made it painful, and in my memory I keep some sweet and charming recollections. Now, I go out little; I seldom talk to people.
Rare distractions. Most of my time is spent working in the garden and reading. I eat well and I do not sleep badly. Except without the gardening.
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Or even eating well all the time. Sometimes I sleep badly. But, really, same. It is out of that "exhaustion," some sort of ennui, that the narrator decides to write the story that becomes this book. How to shake up one's life? Write about it! And the narrator writes about this love of Capitu in such a charming, lovely way, even though, as a reader, we know he's full of shit because of the way he tells the story. One minute this way, the next another, and soon we wonder what if anything can be believed of the narrator's story.
And somehow it's still all okay! Because of that damn writing. Grammar of lovers, give me an exact and poetic comparison to describe those eyes of Capitu's. I can find no image - without breaking the dignity of my style - to convey what they were and what they did to me. Eyes like the tide? Yes, like the tide. That's what they were. They had some mysterious and force-giving fluid that drew everything up into them, like a wave that moves back from the shore when the undertow is heavy. In order not to be swept under, I grasped at other, neighboring parts, her ears, her arms, at her hair that was spread over her shoulders; but as soon as I sought the pupils of her eyes again, the wave that came from them kept growing, cavernous, dark, threatening to engulf me, to pull me, drag me into itself.
How many minutes did we pass in that game? Only the clocks of heaven will have noted this space of time which was infinite yet brief. Eternity has its clocks: even though it is is endless, it wants to know how long joys and sufferings last. It must double the pleasure of the blest in heaven to know the sum of torments that their enemies in hell suffer. And the amount of pleasure which their hated adversaries in heaven enjoy increases the agony of the damned in hell.
This is a torment that escaped the divine Dante; but I do not care to amend poets at the moments. I was simply on the point of telling how at the end of an unmarked time, I finally grasped Capitu's hair; but this time with my hands, and I said to her - to be saying something - that I would comb her hair if she liked. Forgot to take down the page number before I left the book behind There's really no way in describing how much I enjoyed reading this book, and it wasn't even as displacing to read a Brazilian novel in a Dublin setting as it might have been with another book.
I think this has to do, again, with the universality of the story, the success of the unreliable narrator reminding me that we all are, after all, unreliable narrators. Read to the tune of "Your Cheating Heart" on Youtube. Leisurely thus, "ambles" in the beginning and middle, its chief interest is the tone and style.
Sure, it's a translation, but a translator can't even pull this off. Machado de Assis is cliche alert! Short chapters. Pithy asides. Ironic humor. Frank admissions. Certified organic navel gazing. The whole nine Portuguese yards. Bento Santiago, our hero, is winsome as first-person narrators tend to be. Put that in your memory bank and collect interest for the end. She's feisty, lovely, and has "eyes like the tide" the gene pool at high tide, in other words.
Soon after, enter a new best friend from the seminary, where the reluctant Bento is sent to be a priest by his saint-like mother. This friend, Escobar, is one of those characters who creeps up on you if you're listening, you can hear the audience shouting warnings in the way of all dramatic ironists. His stock rises as the novel progresses. In short, he is the catalyst that builds interest, that makes a good novel a better one. In fact, by the very end, the novel comes on gangbusters. Plot, you ask?
Portuguese for "no, you silly fool. The green-eyed monster! It's no accident that allusions to OTHELLO start to drop like raindrops in Seattle as our protagonist -- the man who thinks too much -- starts to think maybe his friend and his wife have an "in" with "fidelity" or something. At this point the unreliable narrator card is played. We LIKE having a best friend in the book's numero uno. We LIKE being confided in so openly. But do we like having to second guess ourselves, much less our amiable friend?
No sirree Bob Roberto , whatever. Now we're into strange terrain. Now we're looking around for the GPS to a lady's heart. Nice finish. A thinking man's finish. And a thoroughly-readable add-to-your-near-empty-South-American resume book. The particular opinion I have of sofas dates from that moment.
They unite intimacy and decorum, and reveal the whole house without one having to leave the living room. Two men sitting on a sofa can debate the destiny of an empire, and two women the charm of a dress, but only by some aberration of the laws of nature will a man and a woman talk of anything other than themselves. Dom Casmurro is unusually modern storytelling for a book written at the end of the 's. You would never guess. It is written as a fictional memoir narrated by one character, Bentinho. Bentinho's mother promised to God that Bentinho would go to the seminary and become a priest, but he falls in love with the next door neighbor's daughter and is unwilling to fulfill his destiny as conceived by his mother.
The story is related in very, very short chapters, which I liked. In addition, Bentinho brea Dom Casmurro is unusually modern storytelling for a book written at the end of the 's. In addition, Bentinho breaks the third wall, much like House of Cards, and talks to the reader from time to time. There is humor, but it is black. It turns out that Bentinho is an unreliable narrator, and it also becomes apparent that he has a jealous streak. The author does a great job of keeping the reader's empathy with Bentinho for a great deal of the book. To me, the brilliance of this book is mostly based on how cutting edge it must have been at the time of its writing.
Unfortunately, I just wasn't ever completely engaged by the tale, and I didn't find the end to be satisfying because as the reader, we actually don't know the real truth. We only know Bentinho's truth. Is that clever? Is it satisfying? Not so much. All in all, I respect the work, but I can't say I enjoyed it.
Either a story of tragic betrayal or a horrorshow of self-delusion. Machado has been compared to both Laurence Sterne and Samuel Beckett, but he's singular so far as I can tell. Written in extremely short chapters, this novel is teeming with sly ironies, unexpected digressions, and unspoken ambiguities - radically deconstructing its Either a story of tragic betrayal or a horrorshow of self-delusion. Written in extremely short chapters, this novel is teeming with sly ironies, unexpected digressions, and unspoken ambiguities - radically deconstructing its rich narrative even as it's being unspooled.
If you haven't read Machado de Assis, you're missing one of the key pleasures of world literature. Also: This translation by Helen Caldwell was the best of several I checked out. I am proofing this book for Free Literature and it will be published by Project Gutenberg. Original files are provided by Biblioteca Nacional. Feb 14, Bob Newman rated it it was amazing. Jealousy or "just Bento out of shape" European students of literature usually concentrate on writers from their own continent, with occasional nods across the Atlantic to North America.
Americans have a somewhat more respectful attitude to Europe, but that's all. Neither take the rest of the world all that seriously and that's a big mistake. Among the national literatures most consistently ignored, none has more to offer than Brazil's. Four writers stand out to my mindJ. Machado de Assis, J Jealousy or "just Bento out of shape" European students of literature usually concentrate on writers from their own continent, with occasional nods across the Atlantic to North America.
Of these four writers, three have written great books that reveal aspects of Brazilian history, society and culture in rich detail. The fourth, Machado de Assis, the writer under review here, is much more a universal author. You will not learn very much about 19th century Brazil from his works. Of course, a little bit of knowledge will stick to your brainslaves, Emperor, eyes on European trends, tropical climatebut it's amazing how little atmosphere or description there is.
Machado de Assis never wanted to be a realist; he is very far from writers like Balzac or Zola. Obviously in a book of pages, each chapter cannot be very long. Machado de Assis uses his chapter titles as part of his work, sources of humor, direction, and irony. The novel is arranged as a memoir written by an embittered man in his sixties about the period of his life from roughly ages 15 to When you begin reading, you think that the theme is "coming of age in Brazil" as the author describes his early romantic attachment to the girl next door and his struggle to avoid the seminary and a priestly future.
His family members emerge as complex, interesting and somewhat amusing characters. Machado de Assis is strong on irony, whimsy, and a kind of self-deprecating humor. He also likes creating or using aphorisms and epigrams, of which the novel is full. Slowly he weaves an amazing, complicated story of jealousy and bitterness. Though initially it seemed clear to me that Bento, the main character, was justified in his jealousy of his best friend, the author never takes sides. On reviewing all the evidence, I have to admit that everything is seen only from Bento's point of view.
According to your nature, you will decide yourself on finishing this subtle and well-written classic that deserves a place alongside the best that Europe and America have to offer. Jun 16, Bruno Lima rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites , classics. As a brazilian student, I hear A LOT about Machado de Assis, but more than a century seperates his work from my time, so this can be a little disencouraging.
But as I'm trying to do new and different readings, I checked it out, and let me just say I couldn't be happier about this decision. Dom Casmurro is settled on Rio de Janeiro in the 's, but it's main theme is timeless: jealousy. Machado gives a purpose, a feeling and intensity to every single character, in a way that you can believe ever As a brazilian student, I hear A LOT about Machado de Assis, but more than a century seperates his work from my time, so this can be a little disencouraging.
Machado gives a purpose, a feeling and intensity to every single character, in a way that you can believe everything. But throught the eyes of Bentinho, the only one we can't really trust is Capitu. It's really intersting seeing how the doubts starts popping in his head gradually, until he loses all control of his life. And after Bentinho starts looking for traces of betrayal, he starts seeing them everywhere - even in meaningless things. The story shows also how painful it is to keep things only to yourself.
Bentinho never exposed his doubts and jealousy to anyone, and he lived alone in his own head, carrying all that pain and hate for Capitu and for his best friend. Whether it is true or false that Capitu commited adultery, we will never know. All that matter is that Bentinho believes in what he wants to see and wanted to see, and his sick love drove him to sadness and to loneliness. Mar 21, Karen rated it really liked it Shelves: travel , , travel-the-world. Dom Casmurro is looking back on his life, trying to tie the beginning and ending together, so he starts writing his memoirs.
He states that he has a terrible memory, yet he persists. The memoirs start at age 15 when he begins to realize that he has fallen in love with the next-door-neighbor girl, Capitu. At age 15, Dom Casmurro's name is Bento Santiago. A family retainer Jose Dias, very influential with Bento's mother Gloria, puts seemingly innocent ideas into Bento's head, that have lasting con Dom Casmurro is looking back on his life, trying to tie the beginning and ending together, so he starts writing his memoirs.
A family retainer Jose Dias, very influential with Bento's mother Gloria, puts seemingly innocent ideas into Bento's head, that have lasting consequences. Bento has a problem, he has been destined for the priesthood. He shouldn't be falling in love with anyone. Bento and Capitu devise a way for him to not become a priest. Deciding to confide in Jose Dias about his wish not to go to seminary, asks for him to intercede.
Bento ends up going to seminary anyway, long enough to become friends with Escobar, who remains a friend with Bento a long time. In the end, Bento and Capitu marry, then it becomes interesting. Sep 25, Missy J rated it liked it Shelves: read-in-german , latin-american , books , lusophone-related. I think I made a mistake when I decided to read this book in German. I tried to order the English version of Dom Casmurro from my local library, but they seemed to have lost that copy. So I settled with the German version I had at home. I wanted to read a book by a Brazilian author other than Paulo Coelho.
Even though the book has chapters, most are short. Yet the melodramatic tone stretched the story for far too long, I was getting very tired. Dom Casmurro is often described as a love story I think I made a mistake when I decided to read this book in German. Dom Casmurro is often described as a love story centered around jealousy and narrated by a very unreliable main character, Bentinho. The first half of the book recalls Bentinho's childhood, his friendship with the neighbor's daughter Capitu, their young blossoming love story and Bentinho's struggle to escape his mother's wish to send him to the seminary to become a priest.
Bentinho manages to become a lawyer instead and eventually marries Capitu, but his bouts of jealousy continue and eventually take a toll on his relationship with Capitu when he suspects that their only son isn't his! When I finished the novel, I thought, is that it? What does this have to do with Brazil? Why are race relations not even mentioned in this book? The author Machado de Assis was a mulatto, why wasn't any of the main characters black?
Or at least why didn't anybody in the story mention the slave issue? Luckily, the German version of this book includes a brilliant epilogue by the amazing polyglot journalist Kersten Knipp. He briefly introduces Brazil's history, how the country turned itself from a Portuguese colony to an independent Brazilian empire. In , a military coup made away with the kingdom and established a republic.
Dom Casmurro was published in , but the story is set around the s. Knapp mentions that following the establishment of the Brazilian empire in , a wave of nationalism swept the country. Writers were encouraged to praise the kingdom, write romantic texts of Brazil's nature, people and oh how wonderful everything is and we don't need a European motherland.
However, de Assis' work is a critique against that society. The author allows an unreliable narrator Betinho to recall the past events filled with jealousy and resentment, painting himself as the victim of his wife's betrayal. But what do we really know? Betinho is supposed to represent those of the upper class that find it difficult to get along with modern times and change. Just as Betinho is unable to come to terms with his past becoming a lawyer instead of a priest, pursuing Capitu, his friendship with Escobar Remember that Betinho's family are descendants of colonizers that exploited the land, hardly anybody in the family works, and they mainly make a living by leisurely selling off plantation land and slaves.
Knapp concludes that Dom Casmurro is a work showcasing fear of change. May 27, Monty Milne rated it really liked it. A fascinating account of the corrosive effects of jealousy, and a beautifully rendered account of upper class fin-de-siecle Brazilian society. I don't read Portuguese so can't judge the translation, but the narrative flows beautifully and, stylistically, has a surprisingly contemporary feel. Feb 21, Amie rated it it was ok Shelves: books , kindle. Not sure what to think. At least the chapters were short. Jun 13, Beth rated it it was amazing. Dom Casmurro is a tender and intimate look at a budding love that flowers and dies before it has had the opportunity to experience the seasons of a lifetime.
The roots remain for a while, alive and struggling for life, but the climatic conditions are not enough to sustain it. The once beautiful flower suffers a slow and painful death. One can attempt to replace the plant with a fabric imitation, but without real life, it would be soul-less.
There is Benito, the protagonist, narrator and beloved of Capitu. Finite conclusions cannot be drawn.
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His is a story that continues to play in the readers psyche, long after its reading. Readers also enjoyed. About Machado de Assis. Machado de Assis. He is widely regarded as the most important writer of Brazilian literature. However, he did not gain widespread popularity outside Brazil in his own lifetime. Nor did Gregorio de Mattos hold his tongue, whether in the student days at Coimbra—where already he was feared for that wagging lance—or during his later vicissitudes in Brazil. In he married Maria dos Povos, whose reward for advising him to give up his satiric habits was to be made the butt of his next satire.
It would have been a miracle if he were either happy with or faithful to her; he was neither. He slashed right and left about him; argued cases—and won them! Now his venom bursts forth all the less restrained. Personal enmities made among the influential were bound  soon or late to recoil upon him and toward the end of his life he was exiled to the African colony of Angola. Upon his return to Brazil he was prohibited from writing verses and sought solace in his viola, in which he was skilled.
There is a tenderer aspect to the poet, early noted in his sonnets; despite the wild life he led there are accents of sincerity in his poems of penitence; no less sincere, if less lofty, are his poems of passion, in which love is faunesque, sensual, a thing of hot lips and anacreontic abandon. He can turn a pretty and empty compliment almost as gracefully as his Spanish models.
But it is really too much to institute a serious comparison between him and Verlaine, as Carvalho would do. Some outward resemblance there is in the lives of the men yet how common after all, are repentance after ribaldry, and connubial  infelicity , but Carvalho destroys his own case in the very next paragraph. I am surprised that no Brazilian has found for Gregorio de Mattos Guerra a parallel spirit much nearer than Verlaine in both time and space.
The Peruvian Caviedes was some twenty years younger than his Brazilian contemporary; his life has been likened to a picaresque novel. He, too, repented, before marriage rather than after; his wife dying, he surrendered to drink and died four years before the Brazilian, if is the correct date. He castigated monastic corruption, trounced the physicians, manhandled the priests, and his snickers echoed in the high places.
Of Gregorio de Mattos I will quote a single sonnet  written in one of his more sober moods. There is a pleasant, if somewhat conventional, epigrammatical quality to it, as to more than one of the others, and there is little reason for questioning its sincerity. Every satirist, at bottom, contains an elegiac poet,—the ashes that remain after the fireworks have exploded. If here, as elsewhere, only the feeling belongs to the poet, since both form and content are of the old world whence he drew so many of his topics and so much of his inspiration, there is an undoubted grafting of his salient personality upon the imported plant.
The first half of the eighteenth century, a review of which brings our first period to a close, is the era of the bandeirantes in Brazilian history and of the Academies in the national literature. The external enemies had been fought off the outer boundaries in the preceding century; now had come the time for the conquest of the interior.
Men and women of all ages, together with the necessary animals, composed these moving outposts of conquest. This was a living epic; the difficulties were all but insurmountable and the heroism truly superhuman. No literature this,—with its law of the jungle which is no law,—with its immitigable cruelty to resisting indigenous tribes, and finally, the internecine strife born of partial failure, envy and vindictiveness.
At Bahia and Rio de Janeiro Academies  were formed, evidencing some sort of attempt at unifying taste and aping, at a distance, the favourite diversion that the Renaissance had itself copied from the academies of antiquity. Among the other academies were that of the Felizes i. Pride in the national literature is already evident.
Eustace, in six cantos, each preceded by an octave summary; the fifth canto contains a quasiprophetic vision in which posterity, in the guise of an old man, requests the author to celebrate his native isle. This section, the Ilha da Itaparica , has rescued the poem from total oblivion. But the passage possesses hardly any transmissive fervor  and the native scene is viewed through the glasses of Greek mythology. It is a barren half century for literature. The one was a physicist and mathematician; the other, a statesman. Romero regards it as a patriotic hymn, laden with ostentatious learning and undoubted leanings toward Portugal.
Romero would make out a case for him on the ground of birth in the colony, family influences and the nature of his lyrism, which, according to that polemical spirit, was Brazilian. Yet his plays are linked with the history of the Portuguese drama and it is hard to discover, except by excessive reading between the lines, any distinctive Brazilian character. At the age of eight he was taken to Portugal by his mother, who was summoned thither to answer  the charge of Judaism; in he was compelled to answer to the same charge, but freed; hostile forces were at work against him, however, not alone for his religious beliefs but for his biting satire, and chiefly through the bought depositions of a servant he was finally convicted and burned on October 21st, The strains of one of his operettas fairly mingled with the crackling of the flames.
For long,  he was the most popular of the Portuguese dramatists after Gil Vicente. The martyred Jew has had no creative influence upon Brazilian literature. The first phase of Brazilian letters is, then, a tentative groping, reflecting the numerous influences across the ocean and the instability of a nascent civilization at war on the one hand with covetous foreigners and on the other with fractious, indigenous tribes. The chroniclers  are in the main picturesque, informative, rambling rather than artistic; the poets are either vacuous or swollen with the pomp of old-world rhetoric.
Even so virile a spirit as Gregorio de Mattos conducts his native satire with the stylistic weapons forged in Europe, and the dawn of a valid nativism is shot through with gleams of spiritual adherence to Portugal and intellectual subjection to the old continent. Yet, as the child is father to the man, so even in these faltering voices may be detected the dominant notes of the later literature,—its imagination, its fondness for rotund expression, its pride of milieu, its Oriental exuberance, its wistful moodiness, its sensual ardor.
Ferdinand Denis. The Brazilian section occupies pages Their salient trait, like that of their Brazilian relative, is a certain wistful sadness. Madrid, This Spanish version, by Carlos Pereyra, is much easier to procure than the original. Also pp. See the essay cited in the preceding notes, pages The Indians were idealized by a Romanticism in quest of elevated souls; the Africans found defenders who rose in audacious flight, but the brave pioneers of the conquest, men of epic stature, have not received even the same measure of sympathy.
It has the first A in its arvoredos trees , ever green and fair to gaze upon; it has the second A in its pure atmosphere ares , so pleasant and certain in temperature; it has the third A in its cool waters aguas , that refresh the throat and bring health; the fourth A in its delightful sugar assucar , which is the fairest gift of all the world. Berlin, See, for a discussion of this book, the Selective Critical Bibliography at the back of the present work.
Los Poetas de la Colonia , Pp. Why, then, if the sun must die, was it born? Why, if light be beautiful, does it not endure? How is beauty thus transfigured? How does pleasure thus trust pain? But let firmness be lacking in sun and light, let permanence flee beauty, and in joy, let there be a note of sadness. Let the world begin, at length, in ignorance; for, whatever the boon, it is by nature constant only in its inconstancy. Aspectos da Litteratura Colonial Brazileira. Leipzig, This youthful work of the eminent cosmopolite furnishes valuable as well as entertaining collateral reading upon the entire colonial period in Brazil.
The standpoint is often historical rather than literary, yet the proportions are fairly well observed. In Yiddish. Page 33, Volume I. It is generally replete with love and the allied feelings. Struggle for the territory of Brazil had bred a love for the soil that was bound sooner or later to become spiritualized into an aspiration toward autonomy. The brasileiros were not forever to remain the bestas that the hell-mouth of Bahia had called them, nor provide luxury for the maganos de Portugal. Taxes grew, and with them, resentment.
Yet, as so often, the articulation of that rebellious spirit came not from the chief sufferers of oppression, but from an idealistic band of poets whose exact motives have not yet been thoroughly clarified by historical investigation. Few less fitted to head a separatist movement than these lyric, idealistic spirits who form part of the Inconfidencia Disloyalty group  immortalized in Brazilian history through the hanging of Tiradentes and the imprisonment and exile of a number of others. It was against him that were launched the nine satirical verse letters called Cartas Chilenas and signed by the pseudonym Critillo Menezes was succeeded by Barbacena who it was rumoured, meant to exact the payment of arrobas of gold, overdue from the province.
It was this that proved the immediate stimulus to an only half-proved case of revolt, which, harshly suppressed, deprived Brazil of a number of its ripest talents. It is not known whether  the authors, though contemporaries, knew each other or read their respective works. The idea of the fatherland, the national thought, which in Gregorio de Mattos is as yet a simple movement of bad humour, vagrant spite and the revolt of an undisciplined fellow, becomes in them the tender affection for their native land. The Uruguay especially reveals this nascent nationalism as it existed among the loyal Portuguese in the epoch just previous to the Inconfidencia.
The author of the first wrote  it, as he said, to satisfy a certain curiosity about Uruguay; also, he might have added, to flatter his patron, the then powerful Pombal, who, it will be recalled, at one time harboured the idea of transplanting the Portuguese throne to the colony across the sea.
It would be an error, however, to see in the small epic but five cantos long a glorification of the native. The villains, of course, are the Jesuits out of whose fold the author had come,—the helpers of the Indians of Uruguay who revolted against the treaty between Portugal and Spain according to which they were given into the power of the Portuguese.
It does not employ the outworn octave, but sonorous blank verse. As they were secondary to his purpose, so were they in his conception. He is not sung, but is rather an element of the song. In this first phase of Indianism the sympathy of the poet is transferred only incidentally to the savage. So that, in the main, it is the attitude of the poet that distinguished the two Indianisms: indifferent in the first, sympathetic in the second.
The better verses of the earlier epic are a balm to the ear and a stimulus to the imagination; those of the later lack communicative essence. The  subject of his epic is the half-legendary figure of Diogo Alvares Correa,  a sort of Brazilian John Smith, who, wrecked upon the coast, so impressed the natives with the seeming magic of his firearms that he was received as their chief. In her dying voice she upbraids him and then sinks beneath the waves. Yet there is a single line in O Uruguay which contains more poetry than this octave and many another of the stanzas in this ten-canto epic.
It is worth while recalling, too, that the Indian of the first is from a Spanish-speaking tribe, and that the Indian of the second is a native Brazilian type. These men did not of set purpose advance an esthetic theory and seek to exemplify it in their writings; they are children of their day rather than brothers-in-arms. Like the epic poets, so they, in their verses, foreshadow the coming of the Romanticists some fifty years later; the spirits of the old world and the new contend in their lines as in their lives.
Romero, in his positive way, has catalogued him with the race of Lamartine and even called him a predecessor of the Brazilian Byronians. No other book of love poems has so appealed to the Portuguese reader; the number of editions through which the Marilia de Dirceu has gone is second only to the printings of Os Lusiadas , and has, since the original issue in , reached to thirty-four.
His heart, as he told her in one of his most popular stanzas, was vaster than the world and it was her abode. Gonzaga, like Claudio, was one of the Inconfidencia ; he fell in love with his lady at the age of forty, when she was eighteen, and sentimental Brazilians have never forgiven her for having lived on to a very ripe old age after her Dirceu, as he was known in Arcadian circles, died in exile. Yet she may have felt the loss deeply, for a story which Verissimo believes authentic tells of D. If, as time goes on, he surrenders his sway to the more sensuous lyrics of later poets, he is none the less a fixed star in the poetic constellation.
The famous book is divided into two parts, the first written before, the second, after his exile. As might be expected; the first is primaveral, aglow with beauty, love, joy. Too, it lacks the depth of the more sincere second, which is more close to the personal life of the suffering artist. He began in glad hope; he ends in dark doubt. It is the most noble and perfect idealization of love that we possess.
There is a certain Brazilianism, too, as Wolf noted, in his Ide to Maria. In him, more than in any other of the lyrists, may be noted the stirrings of the later romanticism. The question of the authorship of the Cartas Chilenas , salient among satirical writings of the eighteenth century, has long troubled historical critics.
In , when  the second edition of the poem appeared, it was signed Gonzaga, and later opinion tends to reinforce that claim. Like Gregorio de Mattos, the author of the Cartas is a spiteful scorpion. But he has a deeper knowledge of things and there is more humanity to his bitterness. There is, in his lines, the suggestion of reality, but it is a reality that the foreigner, and perhaps the Brazilian himself, must reconstruct with the aid of history, and this diminishes the appeal of the verses.
The lesser poets of the era may be passed over with scant mention. Best of them all is Domingos Caldas Barbosa known to his New Arcadia as Lereno and author of an uneven collection marred by frequent improvisation. The prose of the century, inferior  to the verse, produced no figures that can claim space in so succinct an outline as this. The ports of the land, hitherto restricted to vessels of the Portuguese monarchy, were thrown open to the world; the first newspapers appeared; Brazil, having tasted the power that was bestowed by the mere temporary presence of the monarch upon its soil, could not well relinquish this supremacy after he departed in The era, moreover, was one of colonial revolt; between and the Spanish dependencies of America rose against the motherland and achieved their own freedom; marks the establishment of the independent Brazilian monarchy.
Now begins a literature that may be properly called national, though even yet it wavered between the moribund classicism and the nascent romanticism, even as the form of government remained monarchial on its slow and dubious way to republicanism. Arcadian imagery still held sway in poetry and there was a decline from the originality of the Mineira group.
The  first, influenced by Rousseau, is avowedly Christian in purpose but the inner struggle that produced his verses makes of him a significant figure in a generally sterile era, and his Ode ao homen selvagem contains lines of appeal to our own contemporary dubiety. There is, too, a long description of Rio de Janeiro which describes very little. Though these religious poets are of secondary importance to letters, they provided one of the necessary ingredients of the impending Romantic triumph; their Christian outlook, added to nationalism, tended to produce, as Wolf has indicated, a genuinely Brazilian romanticism.
His scientific accomplishments have found ample chronicling in the proper places; quickly he won a reputation throughout Europe. They are, like himself, a thing of violent passions. In Aos Bahianos he exclaims:. Two years before the publication of his poems he who so much loved to command fell from power with the dissolution of the Constituinte and he reacted in characteristic violence. Brazilians no longer loved liberty:. A number of other versifiers and prose writers are included by Brazilians in their accounts of the national letters; Romero, indeed, with a conception of literature more approaching that of sociology than of belles lettres, expatiates with untiring gusto upon the work of a formidable  succession of mediocrities.
We have neither the space nor the patience for them here. It is during the early part of the period epitomized in this chapter that Brazilian literature, born of the Portuguese, began to be drawn upon by the mother country. The period as a whole represents a decided step forward from the inchoate ramblings of the previous epoch. Yet, with few exceptions, it is of interest rather in retrospection, viewed from our knowledge of the romantic movement up to which it was leading. Later writers either retain the first or replace it with the more common u.
Segunda Serie, pp. A Frenchman has even spoken of the romanticism of the classics, which is by no means merely a sample of Gallic paradox. The Brazilian critic considers France the only one of the neo-Latin literatures that may be said to possess a genuinely classic period. As I have tried to suggest here and elsewhere, we have need of a change in literary terminology; classic and romantic are hazy terms that should, in time, be supplanted by something more in consonance with the observations of modern psychology.
The emphasis, I would say, should be shifted from the subject-matter and external aspects to the psychology of the writer and his intuitive approach. The distinctions have long since lost their significance and should therefore be replaced by a more adequate nomenclature. Verissimo rejects any such poetic interpretation and makes the topic food for fruitful observation. He considers the Brazilian savage, as any other, of rudimentary and scant imagination, incapable of lofty metaphorical flights.
And to this name they added nothing marvellous, as our active imagination has pictured. And unseen ever after, she was engulfed by the waters. But worst and saddest grief of all is to find that at no time is this fantastic victory of love transitory, for always it is repeated in remembrance. Let not treacherous contentment deceive you; for this present pleasure, when it has passed, will remain as a tormenting memory. He who created so perfect and entrancing a work, my fairest Marilia, likewise could make the sky and more, if more there be. This is my sole crime! The cry of liberty that once thundered through Brazil now is mute amidst chains and corpses.
Over its ruins, far from their fatherland, weep its wandering sons. Because they loved it, they are accused of treason, by an infamous, truckling band. Though usually associated with French literature, the Romanticism of the first half of the nineteenth century, like that later neo-romanticism which nurtured the Symbolist and the Decadent schools of the second half, came originally from Germany, and was in essence a philosophy of self-liberation.
But national creative production thrives on cross-fertilization and self-made literatures are  as unthinkable as self-made men. And herein, of course, lies the great distinction between the mere nativism which is so easily taken for a national note, and that nationalism which adds to the exaltation of the milieu the spiritual consciousness of unity and independence.
A national literature, in the fuller sense, is now possible because it is the expression not solely of an aspiration but of partial accomplishment, with a historic background in fact. Poetry becomes more varied; the novel takes more definite form; genuine beginnings  are made in the theatre, though, despite valiant attempts to prove the contrary, the Brazilian stage is the least of its glories. Carvalho, selecting the four representative poets of the period, has characterized each by the trait most prominent in his work. This group is but a solo quartet in a veritable chorus of singers that provides a variegated setting.
The individual songs resound now more clearly, like so many strains in the polyphonic hymn of national liberation. The salient four are by no means restricted to the style of verse indicated by their classification, but such a grouping helps to emphasize the main currents of the new poetry. A visit to Europe in converted him thoroughly to French Romanticism and when, three years later, he issued the Suspiros poeticos e Saudades Poetic Sighs and Longings , the very title proclaimed the advent of a new orientation.
His invocation to the angel of poesy is in itself a miniature declaration of poetic independence:. The chaste virgins of Greece, as he announces in the lines preceding this virtual, if distinctly minor ars poetica , have fascinated his childhood enough. Farewell Homer; the poet will dream now of his native land and sigh, amid the cypress, a song made of his own griefs and longings. They are his constant thought at home and abroad.
Os Mysterios , a funereal canticle in memory of his children, published in Paris in , is in eight cantos that sing the triumph of faith. God exists and the human spirit is immortal in that knowledge. Urania , Vienna , chants love through the symbol of his wife. The attitude toward the Jesuit missionaries is the opposite to the stand taken by Basilio da Gama in the Uruguay ; they alone among the Portuguese are worthy; the Indians yield at last to civilization, but they are idealized into defenders of justice against the Portuguese exploiters.
The boresome epic Colombo , seeking inspiration in the great discoverer, is commendable for imagination rather than truly creative poetry. The native was exalted not so much for his own sake as by intense reaction against the former oppressors of the nation.
Our literature was then for the first time, and perhaps the last, social. These stanzas, set to music, became the property of the nation. With it he reached and conquered the people and our women, who are—in all respects—the chief element in the fame and success of poets.
And not only the people, but Brazilian literature and poetry. Since that time the poet is rare who does not sing his land. In all you will find that song, expressed as conscious or disguised imitation. The nativist instinct, so characteristic of peoples in their infancy, found also a sympathetic echo in his Poesias Americanas , and received as a generous reparation the idealization of our primitive inhabitants and their deeds, without inquiring into what there was in common between them and us, into the fidelity of those pictures and how far they served the cause of a Brazilian literature.
His lyrism, of an intensity which then could be compared in our language only to that of Garrett,  whose influence is evident in it, found similarly a response in the national feeling. He counts it the distinguishing trait of the poet that his love poems move the reader with the very breath of authenticity. In him love is not the sensual, carnal, morbid desire of Alvares de Azevedo; the wish for caresses, the yearning for pleasure characteristic of Casimiro de Abreu, or the amorous, impotent fury of Junqueira Freire.
It it the great powerful feeling purified by idealization,—the love that all men feel,—not the individual passion, the personal, limited case. It is rather that they have never  found it as they have visioned it. The reason for the difference is to be sought rather in personal constitution than in poetic creed. The passage just quoted, with all deference to Verissimo, is not great poetry, and precisely because it is too general.
It is statement, not the unfolding of passion in a form spontaneously created. His Lira dos Veinte Annos is exactly what the title announces; the lyre of a twenty-year-old, which, though its strings give forth romantic strains of bitterness and melancholy and imagination that have become associated with Byron, Musset and Leopardi, sounds an individual note as well. The poet died in his twenty-first year; it was a death that he foresaw and that naturally coloured his verses.
His brief, hectic career had no time for meticulous polishing of lines; if the statue did not come out as at first he desired, he broke it rather than recast the metal. In the 12 de Setembro his birthday he exclaims:. But one must guard against attributing this to the morbid pose that comes so easy at twenty. Pose there was, and flaunting satanism, but too many of these poets in Brazil, and in the various republics of Spanish-America died young for one to doubt their sincerity altogether.
The mood is a common one to youth; in an age that, like the romantic, made a literary fashion of their weakness, they were bound to appear as they appeared once again when  Symbolism and the Decadents vanquished for a time the cold formalism of the Parnassian school. That Alvares de Azevedo, for all his millennial doubts and despairs was a child, is attested by the following pedestrian quatrain from the poem of the quadruplicative title:.
Among his followers are Laurindo Rabello , Junqueira Freire and Casimiro de Abreu ,—not a long lived generation. Rabello was a vagrant soul whose verses are saved by evident sincerity. My verses, inspired by grief alone, are not verses, but rather the cries of woe exhaled at times involuntarily by my soul.
He tried to improvise life as well as verses, for he drifted from the cloister to the army, from the army to medicine, with a seeming congenital inability to concentrate. Misfortune tracked his steps, and, as he has told us, wrung his songs from him.
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Verissimo calls him one of the last troubadours, wandering from city to city singing his sad verses and forcing the laugh that must entertain his varying audiences. A thousand times you must have seen me, happy amidst the happy, chatting, telling funny stories, laughing and causing laughter. Junqueira Freire is of firmer stuff, though tossed about by inner and external vicissitudes that are mirrored in the changing facets of his verse. He, too, sought—with as little fundamental sincerity as Laurindo Rabello—solace in the monastery, which he entered at the unmonastic age of twenty as the result of being crossed in love.
Junqueira Freire was the most bookish of children. He read his way through the Scriptures, Horace, Lucretius, Ovid an unbiblical trio! His prose critiques are really remarkable in so young a person, and one sentence upon philosophy is wiser by far than many a tome penned by the erudite. He is, as an artist, distinctly secondary. He is more the poet in his prose than in his poems, and I am inclined to think that his real personality resides there.
But the Brazil that he sings in such deeply felt verses, the Patria that he weeps … is the land in which were left the things he loves and chiefly that unknown girl to whom he dedicated his book. The longing for his country, together with the charms that this yearning increased or created, is what made him a patriot, if, with this restriction may be applied to him an epithet that from my pen is not a token of praise.
His nostalgia is above all the work of love,—not only the beloved woman, but all that this loving nature loved,—the native soil, the paternal house, country life. If Os Lusiadas , with the intense patriotism that overflows it, is the great poem it is, it owes this greatness to them alone. It is love and longing, the anxious nostalgia of the absent poet and the deep grief of a high passion that impart to it its most pathetic accents, its most lyric notes, its most human emotions, such as the speeches of Venus and Jupiter, the sublime episode of D.
Ignes de Castro, that of Adamastor, the Isle of Love. In Fagundes Varella we have a disputed figure of the Romantic period. Alves was less educated—his whole life covers but a span of twenty-four years—but what he lacked in learning he made up in sensitivity and imagination. Though he can be tender with the yearnings of a sad youth, he becomes a pillar of fire when he is inspired by the cause of abolition. Brazilians themselves, as far as concerns the esthetic element involved, have made a choice of Alves. He is one of the national poets. Issued separately, the Poem of the Slaves , is not, as its title would imply, a single hymn to the subjected race; it is a collection of poems centering around the theme of servitude.
He does not dwell upon the details of that subjection; he is, fundamentally, the orator. The Brazilian novel is a product of the Romantic movement. Such precursors as Teixeira e Souza and Joaquim Noberto de Souza Silva belong rather to the leisurely investigator of origins. Macedo portrayed the frivolous society of the epoch  of Dom Pedro II. He was not so much a leader of taste as a skilful exploiter of it.
Not that some of his pages lack a certain piquancy in their very simplicity. Macedo was a writer for the family hearth; his language, like his ideas, is simple. The first, published in , made his reputation; it is a tale of the triumph of pure love. I esteem him because he has contributed to the development and the wealth of our literature. But Brazilians find his Indianism superior to that of the poet in both sincerity and majesty.
Their passions are as sudden and as violent as the tempest,—rapid conflagrations that burst forth for an instant, flaring, glaring and soon disappearing. At his best Alencar is really a poet who has chosen prose as his medium. This struggle presents analogous characters because of the similarity of the native tribes. Only in Peru and Mexico do they differ. But this approximation comes from history; it is inevitable and not the result of imitation.
And what was he to describe if not the scene of his drama? Walter Scott before him had provided the model for these pen landscapes that form part of local color. In the meantime the comparison serves to show that they resemble each other neither in genre nor style. The Brazilian novelist, presenting thus his own case, hits precisely upon those two qualities—sea lore and realism—for which Cooper only yesterday, fifty years after Alencar wrote this piece of auto-criticism, was rediscovered to United States readers by Professor Carl Van Doren. Alencar is no realist nor is he concerned with sheer accuracy.
Guarany , the one book by which he is sure to be remembered for many a year, is, as we have seen, a prose poem in which the love of the Indian prince Pery for the white Cecy, daughter of a Portuguese noble, is unfolded against a sumptuous tapestry of the national scene. Alencar wrote other novels, of the cities, but in Brazilian literature he is identified with his peculiar Indianism. From the stylistic standpoint he has been accused of bad writing; like so many of his predecessors—and followers—he plays occasional havoc with syntax, as if the wild regions he depicts demanded an analogous anarchy of language.
In prose … but let us rather not speak of it. It is enough to read the novels of Teixeira de Souza and Manoel de Almeida. Innocencia, all that her name implies, dwells secluded with her father, a miner, her negress slave Conga and her Caliban-like dwarf Tico, who is in love with Innocencia, the Miranda of this district. Into her life comes the itinerant physician Cirino de Campos, who is called by her father to cure her of the fever. Innocencia vows herself to Cirino, when the mule-driver comes to enforce his prior claim; the father, bound by his word of honour, sides with the primitive lover.
A comic figure of a German scientist adds humour and a certain poignant irony to the tale. Students of Spanish-American letters are acquainted with the Colombian novel Maria by the half-Jew Jorge Isaacs; it has been termed a sister work to Innocencia and if it happens to be, as is my opinion, superior to the Brazilian, a comparison reveals complementary qualities in each. The Spanish-American work is rather an idyll, instinct with poetry; Innocencia , by no means devoid of poetry, is more melodramatic and of stouter texture.
Taunay, in Brazilian fiction, is noted for having introduced an element of moderation in passion and characterization, due perhaps to his French provenience. His widely-known account of an episode in the war with Paraguay was, indeed, first written in French. Manoel Antonio de Almeida in his Memorias de um Sargento de Milicias had made a premature  attempt to introduce the realistic novel; his early death robbed the nation of a most promising figure.
Of drama there is no lack; all that is needed is the dramatist. Martins Penna stands out easily from the ruck for elementary realism, but he is almost alone. Even today, the plays of Claudio de Souza, for all their success upon the stage, cannot compare with the quality that may be encountered in contemporary poetry, novels and tales.
The Romantic period in Brazil is distinguished as much for activity as for actual accomplishment; historically it is of prime importance in the national development, while esthetically it reveals a certain broadening of interests. The national writer, as a type, has attained his majority; he gazes upon broader horizons.
The poets fare better; they are nearer to the sentient heart of things. Yet implacable esthetic criteria would do away with much of their product as well. It is by such tokens as these that one may recognize the secondary importance of the national letters, for, of course, Brazilian letters do not constitute a major literature. Here it is the salient individual that counts, and I, for one, am inclined to think that in art such an individual, as bodied  forth in his work, is the only thing that counts. The rest—genres, evolution, periods,—is important in the annals of national development; it is, however, sociology, history, what you will, but not the primary concern of art.
Such liberation as Wolf points out, was the work of German criticism. The real contribution of the so-called Romantic movement, then, was one of release from academically organized repression,—repression in form, in thought, in expression, which are but so many aspects of the genetic impulse, and not detachable entities that may be re-arranged at will. The measure of literary repression may be taken as one of the measures of classicism; the measure of release from that repression may be taken as one of the measures of romanticism. To argue in favour of one or the other or to attempt to draw too definite a line between them is a futile implication of the possibility of uniformity and, moreover, is to shift the criteria of art from an esthetic to a moralistic basis.
The observation which I translate herewith from Wolf relates Romanticism to its originally individualistic importance as applied to nations. It is for the same reasons that the art of the Middle Ages, proper to modern peoples and opposed to antiquity, has been named Romantic, or rather, Roman. In order to re-establish the continuity of their spontaneous development and to paralyze the modern influence of the humanists, the reformists, classicism and rationalism, these same peoples had to turn back and drink from the ever abundant springs of the Middle Ages,—a brilliant epoch of development which was more in conformity with their genius.
This is another reason why the two terms Middle Ages and Romanticism have been confused. But as this poetry and art of the Middle Ages are bigoted, excessively idealistic, taking pleasure in mysticism and the fantastic, these diverse acceptations have been wrongly given to romanticism. Taking the accessory for the central nucleus, modern romanticism has caricatured all this and discredited true romanticism, so that the name in the realms of art has been applied to everything that is subjective, arbitrary, nebulous, capricious and without fixed form.
No more do I grasp the pagan lyre. My soul, imitate nature. Who can surpass her beauty? By day, by night, sing praises to the Lord; chant the wonders of the Creator. The birds that warble here i. To love, and not know, not possess the courage to speak the love we feel within us; to fear lest profane eyes cast their defiling glance into the temple where is concentrated the best portion of our lives; where like misers we conceal this fountain of love, these inexhaustible treasures of flourishing illusions; to feel the presence of the adored one, though she be not seen, to understand, without hearing her speak, her thoughts; to follow her, without being able to gaze into her eyes; to love her without being able to say that we love.
And, fearing to brush her garments, to burn to stifle her in a thousand embraces. This is love, the love of which one dies! To dream in the delirium of a moment that one is the soul of creation and the sound sent forth by the palpitant earth. I confess before you; hear, contented ones!
My laughter is feigned; yes, a thousand times I stifle with it the echoes of a groan that of a sudden rises to my lips; a thousand times upon the tempered strings I play, in accompaniment to my song fall tears. These two feelings are the soul of his poetry. I would sleep in the shade of the cocoa-trees with their leaves as my canopy; and see whether I could catch the white butterfly that flies in the orchard. I want to sit beside the little stream at the fall of dusk, alone in the twilight filled with dreams of the future. Give me the sweet spots where I romped with the other children, let me see once again the sky of my fatherland, the skies of my Brazil.
My grave will be among the mango-trees, bathed in the light of the moon. And there I shall sleep contentedly in the shadow of my hearth. The waterfalls will weep in deep-felt grief because I died so soon, while I in my sepulchre shall dream of my loves, in the land where I was born. Not that factitious nationalism of duty or erudition, in which intention and process are clearly discernible, but the expression—unconscious, so to say—of the national soul itself, in its feeling, its manner of speech, its still rudimentary thought.
They are not national because they speak of bores , tacapes or inubias , or sing the savages that rove these lands. Neither do Alvares de Azevedo, Laurindo or the others. II, pages Indeed, Alencar himself has repudiated any realistic intention. The later course of Brazilian letters follows practically the same line traced by the reaction in France against the Romantic school. To and fro swings the pendulum of literary change in unceasing oscillation between dominance of the emotions and rule of the intellect. Buds and human beings alike swell to maturity in the womb of nature and then follows the inevitable contraction.
By their works alone shall ye know them. If, then, Romanticism in France, as subsequently elsewhere, gave way to a rapid succession of inter-reacting  schools or groups, the phenomenon was the familiar one of literary oscillation. The Naturalists, nurtured upon advancing science, looked with scorn upon the emotional extravagances of the Romantics. To excessive preoccupation with the ego and with unreality, they opposed the critical examination and documentation of reality. Milieu, social environment, psychology ceased to be idealized; enthusiasm and exaltation were succeeded by cold scrutiny.
In poetry the Parnassians revolted against Romantic self-worship on the one hand and the realistic preoccupation of the naturalists on the other. They, too, believed themselves impersonal, impassive—terms only relative in creative endeavour. They climbed up their ivory towers, away from vulgar mundanity, and substituted for the musical vagaries of their unrepressed predecessors the cult of the clear image and the sculptural line.
And fast upon them followed the Symbolist-Decadents,—some of whom, indeed, were nourished upon the milk of Parnassianism,—and who, in their turn, abjured the modern classicism of the Parnassians with their cult of form and clarity, and set up instead a new musicality of method, a new intensity of personalism. Their ivory towers were just as high, but were reared on subtler fancies. Suggestion replaced precision; sculpture melted into music. In a word, already neo-classicism had swung  to neo-romanticism; the pendulum, on its everlasting swing, had covered the same distance in far faster time.
Yet each seeming return to the old norms is a return with a difference; more and more the basic elements of the reaction are understood by the participants in their relations to society and to the individual.
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Especially is their psychological significance appreciated and—most important of all and most recent—their nature as complements rather than as antagonists. The reaction against Romanticism, if varied in France, was even less disciplined in Ibero-America. And here we come upon a curious fact in comparative literature that is deserving of investigation. In the first place, Parnassianism in Brazil and in Spanish America, for that matter was hardly ever the frigidly perfect thing it became in the hands of the Frenchman. A certain tropical warmth is bound, in the new-world poets, to glow in the marble veins of their sonnets.
In the second,—and this is truly peculiar,—that Symbolism especially in its Decadent phase which was responsible for a fundamental renovation of letters in Spanish America and later affected Spain itself, passed over Brazil with but scant influence. The scientific spirit in Brazilian poetry was of short duration, even though Romero, one of its chief exponents, gives himself credit for having initiated in the reaction against Romanticism with a poetry that sought harmony with the realistic philosophy of the day.
In reality, they but hastened the advent of Parnassianism. Brazil for a while was weary of the great Latin weakness,—eloquence. Its poetical condors had too long orated from mountain-tops; it was high time for swans, for towers of ivory.
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Besides, I believe, this answered a certain need of the national psyche. The sensualist, too, has his moments of refinement, and he becomes the exquisite voluptuary. Science in poetry, as exemplified by the strophes of Martins Junior, is too  often but rhymed harangue, even as the early Brazilian versifiers presented us with rhymed fruit-baskets, aviaries and geographies.
But colour and picturesqueness are hardly the distinguishing poetic traits of Machado de Assis, whose real poetry, as I try to show in the chapter dedicated especially to him, is in his prose. In addition to French influence he underwent that of the Italians Stecchetti and Carducci, of whom he made translations into Portuguese.
His sonnet on Venice is illustrative of a number of his qualities,—his restrained saudade , his gift of picturesque evocation, his rich rhymes, his vocalic melody:. His poetry … reveals a psychological intensity rarely attained in this country. His images are, as a rule, of a perfect realism, a clearness worthy of the old masters. His images are veritable parables. The themes most certainly inhere in his verse, but they are expressed at their best, most artistically developed, in his prose. Carvalho, seeking to rectify the position of this great figure in the history of Brazilian letters, would even make of him a pioneer.
Although such notes are not frequent nor many in his work, it is none the less true that, before him, they were completely unknown. Pioneering, however, is not poetry.
Brazilian Literature , Isaac Goldberg
In art, the idea belongs to him who makes the best use of it. I would not be understood as denigrating his poetic memory; far from it. But in my opinion and I can speak for no one else he is in the conventional sense, only secondarily a poet, and a secondary poet. The very title—Sounding Canvases, i. Brazilian Parnassianism thus begins, according to Verissimo, in the decade Brazilian Parnassianism, as we have seen, is less objective, less impersonal than its French prototype.
Poetic tradition and national character were alike opposed to the Gallic finesse, erudition, ultra-refinement. Pick up the many so-called Parnassian poems of Spanish or Portuguese America, remove the names of the authors and the critical excrescences, and see how difficult it is— from the evidence of the poem itself —to apply the historical label. Theophilo Dias is hardly the self-controlled chiseller of Greek marbles. This is not the kind of thought that produces genuine Parnassian poetry. And listen to this description, by Carvalho, of Raymundo  Correia. Nor is this all. There is no denying the beneficial influence of the Parnassians upon the expressive powers of the Brazilian poets.
The refinement of style mirrored a refinement of the thought. If I stress the difference between the French and the Brazilian Parnassians it is not alone to emphasize the partial inability of the latter to imitate the foreign models, but to show how genuine personality must triumph over group affiliations. Raymundo Correia was such a personality; his sensibility was too responsive for complete surrender to formula. One of his sonnets long enjoyed the reputation of being the most popular ever penned in his country:. To Leopardi, to Byron, to Pushkin, to Buddha.
Alberto de Oliveira, genuine artist that he was—and it was the fashion at one time for the Brazilian poets, under Parnassian influence, to call themselves artists rather than poets—maintained his personality through all his labours. Like a true Brazilian, he renders homage to the surrounding scene and even his sadness is several parts softness.
In the manner of the day he wrote many a sonnet of pure description, but this represents restraint rather than predilection, for at other times, as in his Volupia , he bursts out in a nostalgia for love that proves his possession of it even at the moment of his denial. To the history of Brazilian letters, and to his countrymen, he is first of all the resounding voice of voluptuousness. And, as happens so often with the ultra-refined of his kin, the taste of his ecstasies at times is blunted by the memento mori of weary thought.
The world becomes a pendulum swinging between vast contrasts, and it takes both swings to complete the great vibration. The theme is as common as joy and sorrow; at the very beginning of Brazilian literature we meet it in a coarser sensualist, Gregorio de Mattos Guerra. In Raymundo Correia, in Machado de Assis, such rhymed homilies are common. They illustrate rather the philosophical background of the poets than their more artistic creativeness. Voluptuary that he was, Bilac preferred in poetry the carefully wrought miniature to the Titanic block of marble; at his best he attains a rare effect of eloquent simplicity.
He was as Parnassian as a Brazilian may be in verse, yet more than once, as he chiselled his figurines,  they leaped to life under his instrument, like diminutive Galateas under the breath of Pygmalion.
Oh no, there's been an error
To serve you, Serene Goddess, Serene Form! The words are the words of Parnassianism, but the voice is the voice of passionate personality, romantically dedicated to Style. Earth, better than Heaven; Man, greater than God! All, or almost all, of Bilac, is in this poem, which is  thus one of his pivotal creations. The more to show the uncertain nature of Brazilian Parnassianism, we have the figures of Luiz Delfino and Luiz Murat, termed by some Parnassians and by others Romantics.
Delfino has been called by Romero Livro do Centenario , Vol. And by the time page , Ibid. Yet the effect of the French neo-classicists upon the Brazilian poets was, as Verissimo has shown, threefold: form was perfected, the excessive preoccupation with self was diminished, the themes became more varied. Machado de Assis evidently and confessedly owes to the first, if not also to the second, the advantages of his metrification and of his poetic form in general over that of some of his contemporaries, such as Castro Alves and Varella. Parnassianism refined this form … with its preoccupations with relief and colour, as in the plastic arts,—with exquisite sonorities, as in music,—with metrical artifices that should heighten mere correctness and make an impression through the feeling of a difficulty conquered,—with the search for rich rhymes and rare rhymes, and, as in prose, for the adjective that was peregrine, and if not exact, surprising.
All this our poets did here as a strict imitation of the French, and since it is the externality of things that it is easy and possible to imitate and not that which is their very essence, a great number of them merely reproduced in pale copy the French Parnassians. Thus, for some fifteen years, we were truly inundated with myriads of sonnets describing domestic scenes, landscapes, women, animals, historic events, seascapes, moonlight … a veritable gallery of pictures in verse that pretended to be poetry. Here, as everywhere else, the true personalities survive.
Chief among the Brazilian Parnassians are the few whom we have here considered.