Portugal Realistic Literature Part I

The realistic or veristic age of Portuguese literature begins with the first poems of João de Deus, (1830-96), Anthero de Quental (1842-91) and Theophilo Braga (1843-1924), still students in Coimbra; but he was baptized by fire in the controversy of 1865. Pinheiro Chagas, a young man of letters, who joined the belatedly romantic ranks of Castilho, asked him for a preface to his work of little literary merit, Poema da mocidade (1865). In this preface Castilho referred with contempt to the first poetic manifestations of the Coimbra school, which he claimed lacked “common sense and good taste”: for several months a battle of leaflets and journalistic articles took place. A few years later, in 1871, a more eloquent public affirmation of the new political and literary ideology took place: the lectures of the Lisbon Casino. On the initiative of Anthero de Quental, this new group of thinkers and artists held a series of conferences, the first of which Causas de decadencia dos povos peninsulares, by De Quental himself, has remained classic in the philosophy of Iberian history. But the Avila government, alarmed by the revolutionary nature of these conferences, decided to suspend them.

According to thenailmythology, the organizer protested and asked Herculano to comment on the matter; and the historian, from his seclusion of Val de Lobos, launched a vibrant pamphlet of protest against violence. This new literary pleiad was thus consecrated, that it thus lived one of the most beautiful and most powerful moments of culture, since to art it united the depth of ideas and the intuition of social and moral reforms. João de Deus created a loving, sincere and simple lyricism, which was openly in contrast with the exaggerated sentimental artifices of romanticism and which made him one of the greatest poets of amorous passion. Historical poetry, Visão dos tempos (1864), in Guilherme Braga (1845-1874), a vigorous polemicist, as well as a delicate poet, in Guilherme de Azevedo (1839-82), Claudio Nunes (1831-75), Guerra Junqueiro (1850-1923) and Gomes Leal (1849-1921). The latter two were poets of varied and vigorous inspiration. The Death of DJoão (1878) by Junqueiro is a simple but vibrant interpretation of social sympathy of the legend of Don Giovanni, created by Tirso de Molina; his Velhice do Padre Eterno (1885) is an anticlerical satire, which exercised a very wide influence; la Patria (1896) is a patriotic poem, with Shakespearean accents, which contributed greatly to the revolutions of 1891 and 1910; and Os simples they are a happy painting of simple life, without ambitions and without the delusions of civilization Gomes Leal in Claridades do sul (1875), in Fome de Camões (1880), harmonizes satirical anger and intimate lyricism with great vigor. The extension of realism also in the more properly poetic field, faithfully representing everyday life and understanding a content that was previously excluded from it, was carried out by Gonçalves Crespo (1846-83), Cesareo Verde (1855-86) and João Penha (1839-1919). But the poet of greatest philosophical inspiration, as well as of sculptural formal perfection, was Anthero de Quental, who expressed in an unsurpassable way the painful pessimism and the disappointments of the so-called “bankruptcy of science”.

His Sonetos (1881) and the “gloomy” poems, which preceded them, are among the best things that have been produced in Portuguese, a poem so representative of the intellectual labor of the end of the century. XIX, as much as the Lusiadas they were the thrill of victory in the century. XVI. The realistic novel, aimed at the study of social problems and sexual life, inspired by a materialistic and psychophysiological criterion, was the favorite field of Eça de Queiroz, Teixeira de Queiroz (1848), Julio Lourenço Pinto (1842-1907), Abel Botelho (1856-1917); Jayme de Magalhães Lima (born in 1857) and Luiz de Magalhães (born in 1859). The head of the school was Eça de Queiroz: consul in various countries of Europe and America, then settled in Paris, where he died, almost all of his work was composed outside Portugal, but he is very faithful to reality, although always in the light of his satirical spirit and of a superior European vision. His literary career follows an ascending pace, through very distinct phases: Gazeta de Portugal with highly personal articles, later reunited under the title of Prosas barbaras ; that from 1875 to 1887 is the enthusiastic era of the realist creed. During these years Eça composed his great novels on the life of Lisbon and on provincial life: O crime do Padre Amaro (1875), O primo Basilio (1878) and Os Maias (1880), masterpieces of psychological analysis, of irony, of tenderness and stylistic wisdom. This was a revolution in Portuguese prose, like the one that Garrett will carry out with the Viagens na minha terra. From 1887 to 1900, Eça’s spirit, yearning for new horizons, was freeing itself from the narrow aesthetic of orthodox naturalism and widened its interests and sympathy. Instead of particularly national life, as political constitutionalism had fashioned it, faulty education and decadent romantic literature, it is now human life in the universal sense, it is more general problems and types that concern him. This is the era to which the Relic (1887) belongs, an admirable reconstruction of the passion of Christ made by an unbeliever, the Correspondencia de Fradique Mendes (1891), the creation of the model man, the type of his generation, the Ilustre casa de Ramires (1900), discussion of the problem of cowardice and apologia of the will, the Cidade e as serras (1901), poetic opposition between urbanism and ruralism, the Mandarim (1879), witty fable in praise of work, the magisterial essays of Notas contemporaneas (posthumously), the Contos (1902), which contains real jewels, one of which is José Mathias, a good-natured satire against romantic idealism.

Portugal Realistic Literature 1

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