Brazil Literature – Naturalism and Parnassianism

By | January 9, 2022

Naturalism. – Romanticism was followed by naturalism, and, just as the first had been a reaction against classicism, so the second was intended to be a reaction against romanticism.

According to Educationvv, there are two masters of the Brazilian novel in the naturalist period: Machado de Assis and Aluizio Azevedo. Of the former it can be said that only for some technical aspects it belongs to the naturalist movement, which took place in Brazil between 1875 and 1890. Born in 1839, he was already, when he began to prevail, intellectually mature and with his subtle critical spirit he knew how to take naturalist movement only what he found reasonable and suited to his temperament. Having formed the style of the school of the great Portuguese writers, especially Almeida Garrett, his melancholy and pessimistic concept of life developed in the study of the English humorists (Sterne, Dickens, etc.), and of the German philosophers, especially Schopenhauer. He is the most perfect of the Brazilian novelists, author of numerous novels among which must be remembered,Memorias posthumas de Braz Cubas (1880), Quincas Borba (1891), Dom Casmurro (1899), Esaú and Jacob (1904), Memorial de Ayres (1908), and excellent short stories such as Missa do gallo, the Alienist, etc.

Azevedo, on the other hand, is the characteristic representative of naturalism, a vigorous painter of types, landscapes and customs: among his novels are notable: O mulato, Casa de pensão, O homem, O corti ç o.

Julio Ribeiro was also a naturalist, author of the novels Padre Belchior de Pontes and A carne, exaltation of sensual pleasure, in the manner of Zolian naturalism.

Raul Pompeia (1852-1895) wrote Atheneu, where he shows himself not only as an elegant writer and colourist, but also an original thinker, concerned with spiritual problems, and a genuine poet; a poet of profound and painful sensitivity reveals himself in Can ç ões sem metro.

Inglez de Souza (1853-1917), author of O Missionario, O coronel Sangrado, Historia de uns pescados, and Domingos Olympio (1850-1906), who wrote Luzia Homen, O negro, O almirante, are worthy of mention, as well as Julia Lopes de Almeida (born in 1863), the most representative novelist of the naturalist school, with Martha, A familia Medeiros, A viuva Simões, A fallencia, Tra ç os e illuminuras. Xavier Marques, regionalist novelist (Bahia, 1861), combines the technique of naturalism with a poetic sense and a love of legend, which give it a distinct physiognomy (O silver Pedro, Holocausto, Uma familia Bahiana, Pindorama). Alongside him, it is worth mentioning two novelists from Ceará, Adolpho Caminha (1867), with A normalista, Bom crioulo, A attempts ç ão, and Antonio Salles (1868), with his novel Aves de arriba ç ão. Among the novelists stand out Medeiros and Albuquerque (1867), who is also a journalist, critic and author of three volumes of verse, and Domicio da Gama (1862-1925), a subtle and gentle spirit, author of two collections – Contos á meia tinta e Historias curtas – documents of such an aristocratic philosophy and of such an evocative style, such as is rare to find in modern literature.

Coelho Netto, novelist, short story writer, chronicler, dramatic author, appears in the early years of the republic; but he cannot be considered as a representative of the naturalist school; in him the brilliant and fruitful fantasy prevails together with humor. One can see in his vast production the influence of the great Portuguese novelist Eça de Queiroz, but, precisely because of the qualities that made him a separate figure in the naturalist movement, an admirer (not an imitator) much more of Flaubert than of Zola.

Parnassianism. Corresponding to naturalism in prose was Parnassianism in poetry, a current analogous to that which had passed in France with Banville, Baudelaire, Lecomte de Lisle, the poets of the contemporary Parnasse, and with Victor Hugo of the Légende des Siècles. Already, as we have observed, in Castro Alves, and also in Fagundes Varella, there was a certain tendency towards a more plastic and modern poetic form than that characteristic of the second period of romanticism. Luiz Guimarães Iunior, melodious poet, the nightingale of Brazilian literature, is still all romantic in sentiment, but, especially in Sonetos and remains, his masterpiece, reaches a formal perfection, which will rarely be surpassed later on. Machado de Assis, in whom the fame of the novelist and short story writer hurt a little to that of the poet, is also, with entirely personal rhythms, the true introducer of Parnassianism in Brazil. Already a fine and delightful artist in the Chrysalidas, in the Phalenas, in the Americanas, he gave in some pages of the Occidentaes, such as Mosca azul, Circulo vicioso, Uma creature, as many gems among the most beautiful and precious of poetry, not only Brazilian, but universal.

However, the triumvirs of Parnassianism are, in general opinion, Alberto de Oliveira, Raymundo Corrêa and Olavo Bilac, who were later joined by Vicente de Carvalho. Each of them, in addition to the external qualities that marked the Parnassian school, has their own personal qualities: Alberto de Oliveira is the most pensive and the most cosmic; Raymundo Corrêa, the most dreamer and the most subtle artist; Olavo Bilac, the most sensual and imaginative; Vicente de Carvalho, perhaps the most classic in form, derived in part from the Camões, and the singer, par excellence, of the sea. Ideally close to this school can also be considered Theophilo Dias (1854-1889), grandson of the great Gonçalves Dias, and author of Lyra dos verdes annos, Cantos tropicaes, Fanfarras,Comedy of the gods.

Augusto de Lima (born in 1858), a noble poet of philosophical tendencies, also deserves to be mentioned, who has psychological affinities with Lecomte de Lisle and Sully Prudhomme. We also mention Sylvio Romero, better known as a critic and historian, Luiz Delphin, Lucio de Mendonça, Venceslau de Queiroz, Ezequiel Freire, Medeiros de Albuquerque, Filinto de Almeida, Affonso Celso, Rodrigo Octavio, Adelino Fontoura, Bernardino Lopes, Emilio de Menezes, Guimarães Passos, Goulart de Andrade, as well as the three poetesses Zalina Rolim, Julia Cortines and Francisca Julia da Silva. Luiz Murat (1861-1829), author of Ondas(3 series), although a contemporary of the Parnassians, should not be counted among them: he is rather, like Mucio Teixeira, a modern continuer of Hughian ronanticism. Moreover, it is necessary to remember, studying the Parnassians, that Parnassianism, in spite of its claims as an adversary of Romanticism, was a derivation of it; and this has been shown particularly in all the countries of Latin America.

Brazil Literature - Naturalism and Parnassianism