It has rightly been noted by an illustrious historian of Brazilian literature, José Verissimo, that “modern Brazilian literature is the expression of a thought and a feeling that are no longer confused with Portuguese thought and feeling, and also its instrument, the common language of the two countries is no longer entirely Portuguese “. The literary emancipation of Brazil begins with romanticism, after the country had achieved political independence; but, as the Verissimo observes, the feeling that gave the impulse to romanticism, the nativist spirit, first, and nationalist then, it had been formed from the first Brazilian literary manifestations, without the subordination to Portuguese thought and spirit ever managing to extinguish it. It is precisely the persistence, in time and space, of that sentiment, manifested literally, gives Brazilian literature unity and explains its autonomy.
According to Act-test-centers, the three constitutive races of Brazilian nationality: the Portuguese, both adventurous, sentimental and practical; the African, sensual and nostalgic; the Indian, melancholy and resistant, always merging with the spiritual and, gradually, also demographic preponderance of the Whites, gave rise to the mentality of which Brazilian literature is an expression.
In the historical development of Brazilian literature, three periods can be distinguished, albeit empirically: 1. a period of formation, in which the Portuguese spirit predominates (1500-1750); 2. a period of transformation, when the poets of the so-called Mineira school begin to oppose the Lusitanian influence (1750-1830); 3. the period of autonomy, with the rise of romanticism.
Training period. – Literary manifestations began in Brazil in the century of its discovery. Of course how many in Brazil. even half a century after the discovery, they could write, they were Portuguese. Only towards the end of the century did they begin to leave the Jesuit schools, which were the only Brazilians able to do so. Among the Jesuits, who, with their tenacious will and self-denial, contributed so much to the development of the Brazilian nation, it is right to mention first, also with regard to literary history, Father José de Anchieta (1530-1597), writer of prose and of verses, in Portuguese, in Spanish, in Latin, in the Tupi language, of important letters and of a Brasilica Societatis Historia: writer for the apostolate.
Near the end of the century. XVI was the captaincy of Pernambuco to direct, economically and intellectually, the destinies of Portuguese America; and in 1601 there is a Prosopopéa dirigida in Jorge de Albuquerque Coelho, Capitão and Governador de Pernambuco, Nova Lusitania etc., in octaves, of very little value, by Bento Teixeira Pinto, of Pernambuco. It is not certain that the Dialogue das grandezas do Brasil and a Rela ç ão do shipwreck que passou Jorge de Albuquerque Coelho are the work of the same.
In addition to the two mentioned, the following are worthy of mention, who lived or stayed in Brazil in the century. XVI: Pero de Magalhães Gandavo, author of a Historia da provincia de Santa Cruz a que vulgarmente chamamos Brasil and of historical writings, important as a source of information; Gabriel Soares de Souza (d. 1591), author of a Tractado descriptivo do Brasil em 1587 ; the Jesuit Fernão Cardim (1540-1625), author, among other things, of a Narrativa epistolar de uma viagem e missão jesuitica pela Bahia ; Pero Lopes de Souza, author of a Diario da navega ç ão da armada que foi á terra do Brasil em 1530. The Brazilian scholar Francisco Adolpho Varnhagen has dealt with most of these writers.
In the century XVII national sentiment, barely perceptible in the previous century, still dominated by the Portuguese spirit, becomes clear and strong in the struggles against the Dutch. The letters rise in honor, especially in the state of Bahia where the poets of the Italian, Spanish and Portuguese renaissance are read and imitated. As among the Portuguese, the influence of Gongora and his disciples prevails among Brazilian literary men, almost all of them, after all, who have come out of the classrooms of Coimbra.
Fra i prosatori del tempo, if distinguished: fra Vicente do Salvador, Manuel de Moraes, Diogo Gomes Carneiro, fra Christovão da Madre de Deus Luz, Eusebio de Mattos and Antonio de Sá. Tra i poeti: Bernardo Vieira Ravasco, Domingos Barbosa, Gonçalo Soares from France, Gregorio de Mattos, Manoel Botelho de Oliveira, Josè Borges de Barros, Gonçalo Ravasco Cavalcante de Albuquerque and João de Brito Lima. Tutti forms la cosiddetta scuola bahiana. Principali fra i citati sono Manoel Botelho de Oliveira (1636-1711), author of a raccolta di versi, Music from Parnassus in four choirs of Portuguese, Castilian, Italian and Latin rhymes with his comic derision reduced to two comedies, and Gregorio de Mattos, with whom Brazilian sentiment really begins to appear. The latter (1633-1696) had, better than any other poet of his time, the intuition of social poetry as a weapon against the claims of the powerful and the impostures of all sorts, and was a good lyric poet and excellent satirist.
Not before the first half of the century. XVIII the taste of academies took root in Brazil. In 1724, under the auspices of Viceroy D. Vasco Fernandes Cesar de Mendonça, a literary society was established in Bahia, entitled Academia Brasileira dos Esquecidos. Other academies were those of Felizes (1736), then Selectos (1752), in Rio de Janeiro, and of Renascidos (1759), in Bahia, all ephemeral, and “laboratories of childishness”, but an indication of a slow transformation that it operated in Brazilian thought. A certain national pride, the pride of showing that Brazil also had literature, is revealed by works such as Nuno Marques Pereira’s Peregrino da America, José de Mirales’s Historia militar do Brasil, Historia da America portuguezaby Rocha Pitta and the poem Brasilia by Soares da França.
Bartholomeu de Gusmão, who (according to what is said in Brazil and Portugal) invented the balloon before Montgolfier, belong to these years; Alexandre de Gusmão, author of beautiful letters, graceful verses and a good comedy, O marido confundido ; Sebastião da Rocha Pitta (1660-1738), which owes its fame, better than the verses, to the Historia da America Portugueza (1730), rather than history, a work of fantasy, passionate and characteristic; Manoel de Santa Maria Itaparica (b. 1704), who left, among other things, the poem Eustachidos, “em que se contem a vida de Santo Eustachio martyr, chamado antes Placido, e de sua mulher e filhos”, and where the most significant part is given by the description of the island of Itaparica (remember the other by Manoel Botelho, of island of Maré); Nuno Marques Pereira (1652-1728), author of a narrative Compendium of Peregrino da America, highly esteemed by his contemporaries; and Antonio José da Silva (born in Rio de Janeiro in 1705, but almost always lived in Portugal, where he was sentenced to death by the Holy Office in 1739), author of melodramatic and satirical comedies.