Portugal Literature

The literature of Portugal is notable by a riches and diversity of lyric poetry which has characterized it from the start of its language; by the moral and allegorical Renaissance drama of Gil Vicente; by Os Lusíadas, the national epic of Luís de Camões; by the realist novels of José Maria de Eça de Queirós; by Fernando Pessoa’s poetry and prose of the 20th century; by a considerable number of women writers; and by a renaissance in poetry and the novel in the 1970s, which finished in José Saramago’s winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998.

Portugal Literature

Early Works
The first period of Portugal’s literary developed from the 12th to late 14th centuries. This period is inseparable from Galicia that is a county of Spain and shared linguistic and cultural ties with Portugal.
Literature in the Portugal firstly emerged in lyric poetry, the poems was collected in cancioneiros (song books) and the earliest of these cancioneiros are the Cancioneiro da Ajuda, da Vaticana, and Colocci-Brancuti, written in the 13th century.

King Dinis, who governed Portugal in the late 13th and early 14th century was a talented poet and, like his father, Alfonso III, pursued the Provençal custom of encouraging poetic movement in his court.

Prose writing took longer to develop. Religious and historical writings finally led to the romances of chivalry, the progenitor of which, Amadis of Gaul, most probable originated in Portugal. In the 15th century, Spain exercised great influence on the Portuguese poetry.

The Renaissance through the Seventeenth Century
The Renaissance in Portugal was a great impact principally in poetry and drama.
Gil Vicente was the country’s greatest dramatist, painting a satirical picture of Portuguese society in his 44 plays. In the 16th century, the Portuguese poetry was influenced by the Italianate school. When Francisco de Sá de Miranda, returned from Italy, initiated new poetic styles. He, Diogo Bernardes, and others mastered the new forms of lyric poetry, which achieved their highest point in the works of Luis de Camões. Francisco de Sá de Miranda and his followers also initiated the prose comedy and tragedy into Portugal.

The Renaissance saw an increase of writing by historians who chronicled the discoveries and conquests in Africa, Asia, and America. The best of these was João de Barros among others.

Literary Movements of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
The most important authors after Luis de Camões are from these centuries. In the 18th century developed progressively the Romantic Movement liberal ideas from abroad invade every branch of letters and learning.
The maximum period for literature was the nineteenth century, when Júlio Dinis, Camilo Castelo Branco, and José Maria Eça de Queirós used a social realist and sometimes satirical manner to write about class relations, family, heritage, and religion.

During his historical novels, a history of Portugal, and various pamphlets and journalistic activities, Alexandre Herculano de Carvalho e Araújo offered significant support for the romantic, liberal, and anticlerical movements that helped form Portuguese culture and politics in the 19th century.

A group of poets (Antero de Quental, Téofilo Braga, and Abílio Manuel Guerra Junqueiro), rebelled against romanticism and tied their works with philosophical and social ideas. José Maria Eça de Queiroz initiated realism into the novel and set the tendency for the next half century. Historiography, of a more narrative than scientific sort, grew at the same time.

The Twentieth Century
The 20th century was distinguished for lyric poetry. The modern period in Portuguese letters dates from the institution of the republic in 1910.

Realism was revived throughout the twentieth century with the short stories of rural life by Manuel Torga, the novels was developed by Aquilino Ribeiro among others, and epic tales such as Ferreira de Castro's Emigrantes. Possibly the greatest Portuguese modernist is Fernando Pessoa, largely unrecognized throughout his lifetime, would be recognized later as the greatest modern Portuguese poet.

In the early 1970s Portuguese literary circles were surprised by the publication of a volume of gathered notes, stories, letters, and poems by Maria Isabel Barreno, Maria Teresa Horta, and Maria Velho da Costa. Prohibited because of its erotic and feminist character, the book was acceptable to circulate after the collapse of the Salazar dictatorship. In the United States the book was available as The Three Marias: New Portuguese Letters (1975).

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

Portugal Literature


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