The History of Brazilian Literature

Brazil gained independence from Portugal in 1822. However, Portuguese remains the predominant first language and remains the main language used by its writers. The use of Portugese in the literature of Brazil dates all the way back to 1500 when Pero Vaz de Caminha penned a letter describing Brazil. This famous letter is today now known as Carta de Pero Vaz de Caminha. This is considered Brazil’s first piece of literature and de Caminha is considered the first famous Brazilian writer. Until the 1700’s, Brazilian literature would remain mainly limited to pieces like this which simply described various things about Brazil.

Although it was mainly descriptions of Brazil that appeared in its literature during these years, there were appearances of other things sprinkled here and there during this time. Perhaps the most famous of such writers is Gregorio de Matos who in the 1600s wrote a vast library of various types of poetic works. Since poetic literature was scarce in Brazil at this time, Matos drew his inspiration from Spanish poetry masters. However, as mentioned such works that were not non-fiction were rare in Brazil at this time. Such works would pick up speed in the 1700s and not actually come into their own until the 1800s.

The first big movement, Romanticism, began in the early 1800s. By 1836 the movement became by far the biggest literary movement in Brazilian history. The primary mover and shaker of these years was the poet Goncalves de Megalhaes. This Romantic era inspired much experimentation, spawning other types of work. Probably the most famous of these Romantic era inspired experimental poets was Casimiro de Abreu. This Romantic era also saw such great novelists as Joaquim Manuel de Macedo, Manuel Antonio de Almeida, and Jose de Alcencar.

Romanticism fostered a literary climate that grew and grew and developed and developed. It has gone through many stages since that time. It is today immensely healthy and booming. Perhaps one of the most famous contemporary examples is Jaimie Garcia Dias. Dias is a multiple award-winning Brazilian writer who began his illustrious writing career when he was just 15 years old. His father was himself a writer and journalist, mentoring his son to very willingly follow in his footsteps. Dias later went to the College of Rio de Janiero. After graduating in 1993 with a degree in literature, he became a teacher at the Academy of Literature in Rio where he taught for five years. In 1997, bursting with ideas about a complete renovation in study and reading methods, the school made him vice-president. All this time, he was busy churning out books. It was in 2001 that Dias first began to be truly recognized as one of the great Brazilian writers.

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