II
1325-1521

§ I
Early Prose

WITH prose a new period opens, since, although there are Portuguese documents of the late twelfth century1 and the Latin chrysalis was in an advanced stage of development even earlier, prose as a literary instrument does not begin before the fourteenth century or the end of the thirteenth at the earliest. The fragments of an early Poetica2 clearly show how slow and awkward were still the movements of prose at a time when poetry had attained an exceedingly graceful expression. The next two centuries redressed the balance in the favour of prose. The victory of Aljubarrota ( 1385) made it possible to carry on the national work begun by King Dinis -- the preparation of Portugal's resources for a high destiny. In this constructive process literature was not forgotten, and indeed its deliberate encouragement, as though it were an industry or a pine-forest, may account for the fact that it consisted mainly of prose -- chronicles, numerous translations from Latin, Spanish, and other languages, works of religious or practical import. The first kings of the dynasty of Avis, who rendered noble service to Portuguese literature, were not poets, and in the second half of the fifteenth century Spanish influence, checked at Aljubarrota, succeeded by peaceful penetration in recovering all and more than all that it had lost, till it became common to hear lyrics of Boscan sung in the streets of Lisbon,3 and uncommon for a Portuguese poet to versify in his mother tongue.4 Prose

____________________
1
Portuguese is then uma lingua coherente, clara, um instrumento perfeito para a expressdo do pensamento, cuja maior Plasticidade dependerd apenas da cultura litteraria, F. Adolpho Coelho, A Lingua Portugueza ( 1881), p. 87.
2
See supra, p. 48.
3
See p. 160.
4
Cf. for the seventeenth century Galhegos' preface and Mon. Lusit.

-58-

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Portuguese Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 8
  • Introduction 13
  • I - 1185-1325 22
  • II - 1325-1521 58
  • III - The Sixteenth Century [1502-80] 106
  • IV - 1580-1706 251
  • V - 1706-1816 270
  • VI - 1816-1910 287
  • Appendix 338
  • Index 359
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