Brazilian Culture: An Introduction to the Study of Culture in Brazil

By Fernando de Azevedo; William Rex Crawford | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
LITERARY LIFE
The beginnings of Brazilian literature-Portuguese literature written in Brazil -- The first original manifestations-Gregório de Matos and satire -- Social differentiation and linguistic differentiation -- The coexistence of two vernaculars down to the eighteenth century -- The theater of António José da Silva -- The two national poems -- The poets of the Inconfidéncia -- Revolutionaries in politics, conservatives in letters -- journalism and the struggles of independence and in the first Empire -- Political literature-Romanticism in Brazil -- The attraction of Indian themes -- Gonçalves Dias, the poet of the Indians -- José de Alencar and the Brazilian language -- Castro Alves, the poet of the slaves -- The evolution of the theater and its principal figures -- Memórias de um sargento de milicias -- The national thought of Tavares Bastos -- Parliamentary eloquence during the Empire-Joaquim Nabuco and Rui Barbosa -- Agitators of ideas -- Tobias Barreto and Sílvio Romero -- The splendor of journalism -- Eduardo Prado -- The Brazilian Academy and the unity of the language -- The great lyrical poets -- History -- The two aspects of the national spirit -- Machado de Assis and Euclides da Cunha -- Essayists, critics, and pamphlet writers -- The movement of modern literature -- The poetry of the younger writers -- Novelists and short-story writers -- The spread of printing -- Literature and the public spirit.

LITERATURE is not only one of the elements of general culture; but as a result of the specific conditions of our almost exclusively literary formation, it was the first element and the most persistent, the strongest and the most expressive in our culture. If only in our own times the factors which condition intellectual life have combined and acquired the necessary intensity to create the "profession of writer" (and even today an author rarely lives on the result of his intellectual production), from a very early time in the second century there were enough of them to produce in the rural aristocracy and in the bourgeoisie, whether born in the old country or here, what might be called a "literary climate." At the beginning of every society, as Novicow observes,1 what predominates -- since it is necessary first of all to live -- is economic activity; and intellectual life does not arise until much later, when the existence of individuals who are purely or principally intellectuals becomes possible with the formation of a wealthy class, so situated that it can directly or indirectly maintain them, and with the leisure which does not come without wealth and which opens wide opportunities to study. The intellectual élite grew up naturally among us, as everywhere, as a result of economic differentiation. Those who had the wealth and leisure for study -- the Portuguese noblemen and after them the lords of the sugar mills and the great miners -- either took a closer interest in intellectual things or -- what happened most of the time -- if they personally did not devote themselves to these studies called them forth in others, promoting the education of their sons, giving them opportunities to acquire culture, and supporting

____________________
1
M. J. Novicow, L'Élite intellectuelle et l'aristocratie

-193-

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