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J. D. M. FORD ' ^^ 

Smith Professor of the French and Spanish Languages, Harvard University 



Published, September, 1922 




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Paper supplied by W. F. Etherington £ Co., New York, N. Y. 
Bound by the H. WoW Estate, New York, N. Y. 




of the Philadelphia Public Ledger 

Dear Burton: 

You were, some eight years ago, my 
guide into the thorny mazes of Journalism, 
and printed, in the Boston Evening Tran- 
script, my first articles upon Spanish and 
Portuguese American letters. This is but 
a small return for the friendship since then 

I. G. 


Brazil is preparing to commemorate worthily the cen- 
tenary of her independence. The world outside is bid- 
den to the feast, and to beautiful Rio de Janeiro many 
nations are sending their envoys with felicitations and 
gifts. Our own country, the United States of North 
America, is mindful of her duty and her privilege on 
this occasion, and accredited delegates are bearing her 
congratulations to her ever-faithful associate in the pro- 
moting of peace and fraternity throughout the Western 
Hemisphere. Perhaps it will not be taken amiss, if the 
scholar and critic add his testimonial to the expressions 
of good-will coming from all sides. What more fit- 
ting than that a scholar and critic of our United States 
should join the chorus and voice an honest appreciation 
of Brazilian letters? 

Dr. Goldberg, who has already paid ample tribute to 
the literary output of Spanish-speaking America, gives 
proof now of the catholicity of his interest by surveying 
the whole course of literature in Portuguese-speaking 
America, the vast land of Brazil, and by analyzing the 
compositions of certain outstanding figures among the 
writers of the region. He knows at first hand the au- 
thors and the works that he treats; he knows what nat- 
ive and foreign critics have to say about them; he ex- 
presses unreservedly his own opinion about them. He 
gives praise where praise is due, and, in kindly fashion, 
he puts stricture upon that which calls for stricture. 
On the whole, his pages contain more laudation than 



censure; and this is as it should be, for very many of the 
literary achievements of colonial, imperial and republican 
Brazil are unquestionably of lasting worth. His lauda- 
tion, moreover, is uttered without any tinge of that conde- 
scension which European critics deem it incumbent upon 
them to manifest when they pass judgment on the cul- 
ture of North or South America. 

To his fellow-citizens of the United States of North 
America Dr. Goldberg now presents an opportunity of 
viewing aspects of the soul of a noble Southern land, 
their constant ally. Brazil's political and commercial im- 
portance they know well, but her literary significance 
has not been so evident to them. If, reading his words, 
they conceive respect for Brazilian effort and accomplish- 
ment in the world of letters, his reward will be truly 
great; and that reward is truly deserved. 

J. D. M. Ford. 


The plans for this book, as well as for my Studies 
in Spanish-American Literature, were conceived during 
the years 1910-1912 while I was engaged in research 
work under Professor J. D. M. Ford, head of the De- 
partment of Romance Languages, Harvard Univer- 
sity. It was not merely that text-books were lacking 
in both the Spanish-American and the Brazilian fields, for 
my interest is centred upon aesthetic pleasure rather 
than upon the depersonalized transmission of facts. A 
yawning gap of ignorance separated us then from the 
America that does not speak English, nor was the ig- 
norance all on our side. Commercial opportunities, 
more than cultural curiosity, served to impart an im- 
petus to the study of Spanish and soon we were reading 
fiction not only from Spain but from Spanish America. 
In so far as the mercantile spirit was responsible for this 
broader literary interest, it performed an undoubted 
service to art by widening our horizons, but one should 
be wary about overestimating the permanent gain. Un- 
fortunately, the phonographic iteration of diplomatic 
platitudes brings continents no nearer, unless it be for 
the mad purposes of war. If, then, we are, as a people, 
quite as far as ever from Spanish America, what shall 
we say of our spiritual distance from the United States 
of Brazil? 

I may be pardoned if I indicate, for example, that 
the language of Brazil is not Spanish, but Portuguese. 



And should this simple fact come as a surprise to any 
reader, let him not be unduly overwhelmed, for he errs 
in distinguished company. Thus, Gustave Le Bon, — 
he of crowd-psychology fame, speaks of South America 
in his Lois psychologiques des peuples (p. 131, 12th 
ed., 19 16) as being predominantly of Spanish origin, 
divided into numerous republics, of which the Brazilian 
is one. As late as 1899, Vacher de Lapouge, in his 
book on UAryen could describe Brazil as a "vast negro 
state returning to a state of savagery," important, like 
Mexico, only in a numerical way.* A small return, it 
seems, for Brazil's intellectual adherence to France, yet 
indicative of inexcusable ignorance not only of Brazil, 
but of Mexico, where the cultural life, though concen- 
trated, is intense and productive of results that would 
repay examination. By 1899 Brazil had already pro- 
duced a fairly respectable array of original creative 
writers, while Mexican poetry was adding to the wealth 
of new Spanish verse. Where specialists stray, then, 
who shall guide the innocent layman? Nor are the 
Brazilians without their case against the English, as we 
shall presently note in the discussion of a mooted sec- 
tion of Buckle's History of Civilization in England, 
though they owe to more than one earlier English- 
man a history of their land. Robert Southey, for not- 
able example, after the collapse of the "pantisocratic" 
plans harboured by him and Coleridge, found the time to 
write a History of Brazil that is read today only some- 
what less frequently than his poetry. 

*I take these examples from Senhor De Carvalho. Students of Bra- 
zilian letters will not find it difficult to multiply instances from their 
personal experience with educated friends. 


The history of Brazil, like Caesar's unforgettable 
Gaul, is generally divided into three parts: (i) from 
the discovery by the Portuguese in 1500 to the Inde- 
pendence in 1822; (2) the independent monarchy, which 
lasted until 1889; (3) the republic, 1889 to the present. 
This, then, is the centenary year of Brazilian independ- 
ence and, as no English book has yet sought to trace the 
literary history of the nation, the occasion seems pro- 
pitious for such a modest introductory one as this. 
.The fuller volume which it precedes I hope to have ready 
in a few years, as a contribution to the study of the 
creative imagination on this side of the Atlantic. 

If, in any part, I seem dogmatic, I can but plead the 
exigencies of space, which permit of little analytic dis- 
cussion. I am no believer in clear-cut formulas as ap- 
plied to art; where facts are presented, they are given 
as succinctly as possible, while opinions are meant to 
be suggestive rather than — ugly word! — definitive. 
The first part of the book is devoted to an outline history 
of Brazilian literature; this is meant to provide the 
background for a proper appreciation of the representa- 
tive figures treated in the second part. Since the first 
part deals largely with facts, I have aimed to give the 
reader not solely a personal view — which belongs 
more properly among the essays of the second — but 
also a digest of the few authorities that have treated 
the subject. It thus forms a reasonably adequate in- 
troduction to the deeper study of Brazilian literature 
that may some day interest a portion of our student 
body, and will, moreover, be of aid in rounding out 
the sharp corners of a general knowledge of letters. 
More important still, it should help to an appreciation 


of the Brazilian national personality. As to the repre- 
sentative figures chosen for more Individual treatment, 
through one trait or another they emerge from the back- 
ground as Brazil's contributions to something more than 
an exclusively national Interest, or else afford striking 
opportunity for studying phases of the national mind. 

Though none of the text as it here appears has been 
printed elsewhere, some of the matter has formed the 
substance of articles that have been published, between 
19 14 and the present, In the Boston Evening Transcript, 
the Christian Science Monitor, the Literary Review of 
the New York Evening Post, the Nezv York Times, 
the Bookman, the Stratford Journal and other period- 
icals, to the management and editors of which I am in- 
debted not only for permission to reprint, but for their 
readiness to accept such exotic material. For biblio- 
graphical aid and other favours I am also thankful to the 
Brazilian Academy of Letters, Carlos de Laet, President; 
to Manoel de Oliveira Lima, of the Brazilian Academy; 
Gllberto Freyre; C. J. Babcock, Librarian of the Colum- 
bus Memorial Library, Washington, D. C; C. K. Jones; 
Prof. H. R. Lang, Yale; Dr. A. C. Potter and the Har- 
vard Library; to Sr. Hello Lobo, Consul General in New 
York for Brazil; and to my friend Professor J. D. M. 
Ford of Harvard. For the Index I am indebted to my 

Isaac Goldberg. 

Roxbury, Massachusetts, 






I Introductory — The Milieu and the Racial 
Blend — Portuguese Tradition, African 
AND Native Contribution — Linguistic 
Modification — Nationalism and Litera- 
ture — Problems of the Future — Phases 
of Brazilian Literature 3 

II Period of Formation (1500-1750) 28 

III Autonomous Development (1750-1830) 53 

IV Romantic Transformation (1830-1870) 72 

V Critical, Naturalist Reaction, (1870-1900) 

Parnassians, Symbolists, etc. 102 



I Castro Alves 129 

II Machado de Assis 142 

III Jose Verissimo 165 

IV Olavo Bilac 188 

V Euclydes da Cunha 210 



VI Oliveira Lima 222 

VII Gra^a Aranha 234 

VIII CoELHo Netto 248 

IX Francisca Julia 261 

X The Newer Writers 227 


INDEX 299 





The Milieu and the Racial Blend — Portuguese Tradition, Af- 
rican and Native Contributions — Linguistic Modification — Na- 
tionalism and Literature — Problems of the Future — Phases of 
Brazilian Literature. 

ALTHOUGH Brazil was not discovered until the 
opening year of the sixteenth century, the name 
had long hovered in the mediaeval conscious- 
ness together with that of those other mysterious 
islands which peopled the maps and the Imaginations 
of the dark, fantastic days. Down from the Greeks 
had come the legend of an Atlantis, which, through 
the centuries assumed changing shapes, losing soon 
its status as continent and becoming an Island. Thus, 
In a map of the Atlas Medicis, dating back to 
135 1, there Is registered a Brazil. The name varied 
from Braclr, Brazil, Brazylle to O'Brasile, and the 
position shifted with equal Instability; now the mythical 
island was near the Azores, now near the western coast 
of the British Isles. Charles Squire, In his The Mythol- 
ogy of the British Islands,^ relates that according to leg- 
end, the gods having lost their celestial dwelling, delib- 
erated upon some earthly substitute. Into their dis- 
cussion came a paradise beyond the sea, — a western Island 
variously described as a land of promise, of felicity and 

1 London, 1905. Page 113. 


of youth, and as the "island of Breasal" or "Hy-Brea- 
sail." It is supposed that some of the early discoverers, 
imagining that they had come upon the island Eden, 
named it Brazil in much the same way that Columbus 
named the Indies, considering his quest for India at last 

However this may be, the first name officially given to 
Brazil was The Land of the True (or Holy) Cross; only 
later did the name Brazil, said to have been bestowed 
by King Emanuel of Portugal, replace the pious title. 
There is something symbolic in the change ; brazil ^ is 
the name of the reddish dyewood which became so im- 
portant commercially that it caused naval combats and 
Portuguese-French rivalry, leading to the effective occu- 
pation of the land by the Portuguese. The beam of the 
cross yielded to a humbler wood as the national designa- 
tion, just as the pious pretensions of the early colonizers 
quickly vanished before their impious greed. 

The early reports of the newly discovered land lived 
up to the paradisical visions that had partly inspired the 
quest. Truly here was a land of promise, a terrestrial 
paradise that made men dip their pens in milk and 
honey when they wrote of its wonders. Vaz de Ca- 
minha, in what has been called the nation's "baptismal 
certificate," grew rhapsodical in vain; Vespucci, — he for 
whom the American continent was named, — actually 
termed it an earthly paradise, but the Portuguese were 
slow to value the new possession; the cross was not a 
cross of gold. Nobrega, in 1549, exaggerated the extent 
of the new discovery even as others were to exaggerate 
the variety and magic of its fauna and flora; he consid- 

2 Cf. Spanish and Portuguese brasa, a live coal. Also, English brazier. 


ered that it occupied no less than two-thirds of the 
world's area. Padre Anchieta, the noble leader of the 
Jesuits, repeated (1585) Vespucci's glorification and 
thought the new land not inferior to Portugal, and thus 
ran the litany of adoration from the topographical pen 
of Gabriel Soares to the chronicler Cardim, to the pom- 
pous Rocha Pitta, and — now with realistic modifications 
aplenty — down to our own day, when Graga Aranha, by 
the very title of his novel Chanaan, reveals his conception 
of his native country as the Land of Promise. From 
the very beginning the new discovery had captivated the 
imaginations of the Europeans; to this day its chief 
quality is the imagination which Senhor Aranha, in a 
speech at the Sorbonne (19 13) has distinguished 
from the imagination of other peoples. "In Brazil," he 
explained, "the collective trait is the imagination. It 
is not the faculty of idealization, nor the creation of life 
through esthetic expression, nor the predominance of 
thought; it is rather the illusion that comes from the 
representation of the universe, the state of magic, in 
which reality is dissipated and is transformed into an 
image. . . . The distant roots of this imagination may 
be found in the souls of the various races that met amidst 
the lavishness of tropical nature. Each people brought 
to the fusion its own melancholy. Each, having arrived 
with a spirit full of the terror of several gods, with the 
anguish of memories of a past forever lost, was possessed 
by the indefinable uneasiness of the foreign land. Thus 
was developed that implacable sensibility which magnifies 
and distorts things, which alternately exalts and depresses 
the spirits, which translates anxieties and desires; a 
troubled source of poetry and religion, through which 


we aspire to the possession of the Infinite, only to lose 
ourselves at once In the Nirvana of Inaction and day- 
dreaming." Benedlcto Costa ^ has likened this same 
imagination to the Brazilian forest, with Its "disorder and 
opulence. Its vigour and languor; trees that last for cen- 
turies and flowers that bloom but a few moments; lianas 
that live upon the sap of other growths; the brilliancy of 
orchids, the voices of birds of Iridescent coloration, the 
heat. . . . There Is In the soul of every Brazilian the 
same contrasts that characterize the tropical forest." "* 
Brazil, however. Is not all forest any more than. In- 
tellectually, it Is all tropical confusion. There are 
mountains and valleys and extensive coasts, and each 
region has a distinguishing Influence upon the inhabitant. 
Thus the chmate of the sertao ^ (Interior highlands) Is 
less variable and far more salubrious than that of the 
littoral. "Man here represents perfectly the traits of 

3Le Roman au Bresil. Paris, 1918. 

4 Sylvio Romero (See Lltteratura Contemporanea, Rio de Janeiro, no 
date, pages 45-46, chapter upon the poet Luiz Murat) refers in char- 
acteristic fashion to the Brazilian habit of overstating the case of the 
native imagination. There is no audacious flight, he declares; no soar- 
ing of eagles and condors. "Whether we examine the popular litera- 
ture or the cultured, we find overwhelming proof of this assertion. 
Our popular novels and anonymous songs are scant in plot, ingenious 
imaginings, marvelous imagery, which are so common in their Slavic, 
Celtic, Greek and Germanic congeners. And the contribution brought 
by the negroes and indigenous tribes are even poorer than the part 
that came to us from the Portuguese. Cultivated literature . . . is even 
inferior to the popular productions from the standpoint of the imagina- 
tion. . . . Our imagination, which is of simply decorative type, is the 
imagination of lyric spirits, of the sweet, monodic poetry of new souls 
and young peoples." 

^Sertao. iLkerally, interior, midland part. It refers here to the 
plateau of the Brazilian interior. In the opening pages of his excellent 
A Brazilian Mystic, R. B. Cunninghame-Graham suggests as a periphra- 
sis, "wooded, back-lying highlands." The German hinterland conveys 
something of the idea. 


the surroundings into which he is born and where he 
dwells: the sertanejo (i. e., the inhabitant of the sertao) 
is sombre, thin, mistrustful and superstitious, rarely- 
aggressive, rash in his impulses, as silent as the vast 
plains that surround him, calm in gesture, laconic in 
speech, and, above all, sunk in an inexpressible melan- 
choly that is in his eyes, in his mysterious countenance, in 
all the rough curves of his agile body, which is rather 
slender than muscular. The man of the coast is nervous, 
of acute sensibility; he can smile and laugh, he has a 
brilliant imagination and is a boisterous, turbulent 
thinker; he is an artist, preferring colored images to 
abstract ideas; he is slender, of well-proportioned lines, 
speaks at his best when improvising, discusses affairs with 
the utmost ease, and at times with daring, and generally 
respects only his own opinions; he is almost always 
proud and bold. The man of the sertao, for example, 
is Euclydes da Cunha; the man of the coast, Joaquim 
Nabuco." « 

It is in connection with the climate of Brazil that her 
writers have taken Henry Thomas Buckle to task; the 
passages responsible for the trouble occur in Chapter II 
of the famous History of Civilization in England, where- 
in the investigator considers the "influence exercised by 
physical laws over the organization of society and over 
the character of individuals." I quote the original pas- 
sages from Buckle, and give the refutation, which was 
originally made by the indefatigable polemist Sylvio 

SRonaldo de Carvalho. Peqtiena Historia da Literatura Brasileira. 
Rio de Janeiro, 1919. Pp. 13-14- For Euclydes da Cunha, see the special 
chapter devoted to him in part two. Joaquim Nabuco (1849-1910) 
was a distinguished publicist and writer, born in Pernambuco. In 1905 
he was ambassador to the United States. 


The trade wind, blowing on the eastern coast of South America, 
and proceeding from the east, crosses the Atlantic ocean, and 
therefore reaches the land charged with the vapours accumulated 
in its passage. These vapours, on touching the shore, are, at 
periodical intervals, condensed into rain ; and as their progress 
westward is checked by that gigantic chain of the Andes, which 
they are unable to pass, they pour the whole of their moisture on 
Brazil, which, in consequence, is often deluged by the most de- 
structive torrents. This abundant supply, being aided by that 
vast river-system peculiar to the eastern part of America, and 
being also accompanied by heat, has also stimulated the soil into 
an activity unequalled in any other part of the world. Brazil, 
which is nearly as large as the whole of Europe, is covered with a 
vegetation of incredible profusion. Indeed, so rank.and luxuriant 
is the growth, that Nature seems to riot in the very wantonness 
of its power , . . Such is the flow and abundance of life by which 
Brazil is marked above ail other countries of the earth. But, 
amid this pomp and splendour of Nature, no place is left for Man. 
He is reduced to insignificance by the majesty with which he is 
surrounded. The forces that oppose him are so formidable, that 
he has never been able to make head against them, never able to 
rally against their accumulated pressure. The whole of Brazil, 
notwithstanding its immense apparent advantages, has always 
remained entirely uncivilized, its inhabitants, wandering savages, 
incompetent to resist these obstacles which the very bounty of 
Nature had put in their way. . . . The mountains are too high 
to scale, the rivers are too wide to bridge ; everything is contrived 
to keep back the human mind, and repress its rising ambition. 
It is thus that the energies of Nature have hampered the spirit of 
Man. Nowhere else is there so painful a contrast between the 
grandeur of the external world and the littleness of the internal. 
And the mind, cowed by this unequal struggle, has not only been 
unable to advance, but without foreign aid it would undoubtedly 
have receded. For even at present, with all the improvements 
constantly introduced from Europe, there are no real signs of 


progress. . . . These considerations explain why it is, that in the 
whole of Brazil there are no monuments even of the most imperfect 
civilization ; no evidence that the people had, at any period, raised 
themselves above the state in which they were found when their 
country was first discovered. 

In his Historia da Litteratura Brasileira, "^ Romero de- 
votes his third chapter to setting Buckle right. Brazil, 
he declares, far from suffering excessive rainfall, is sub- 
ject to calamitous and destructive droughts. The Eng- 
lishman, who never visited Brazil, errs likewise in his 
conception of the country's natural wonders, which he 
exaggerates in the traditional fashion that was handed 
down by the earliest comers. Despite the presence of 
the Amazon, the rivers in general are small, not the 
largest in the world; the mountains, similarly, far from 
rearing their crests into unattainable cloudy heights, are 
"of the fourth and fifth order when compared with their 
fellows of the old world or the new. Neither are the 
animals in Brazil more gigantic and ferocious than else- 
where. "Our fauna," writes Romero, "is neither the 
richest nor the most terrible in the world. We haven't 
the elephant, the camel, the hippopotamus, the lion, the 
tiger, the rhinoceros, the zebra, the giraffe, the buffalo, 
the gorilla, the chimpanzee, the condor and the eagle." 
Buckle speaks of Brazil's unrivalled fertility as an im- 
pediment; the truth is that her fertility is not unrivalled, 
nor is it an impediment. In conclusion, "Buckle is right 
in the picture he draws of our backwardness, but wrong 
in the determination of its causes." According to 
Romero, three chief reasons are to be adduced; these are 
(i) natural, (2) ethnic and (3) moral. To the first 

■^ Rio. 1902. (2a Edigao, melhorada pelo auctor.) 


belongs the excessive heat, in conjunction with the 
droughts in the major part of the country, as well as the 
malignant fevers prevalent on the coast. Chief among 
the second is the "relative incapacity" of the three 
races that comprise the population. To the last be- 
long the "historic factors called politics, legislation, 
habits, customs, which are effects that afterward act 

as causes." 

Ronaldo de Carvalho ^ 'considers Romero's reply 
somewhat timid, inasmuch as he accepts, erroneously, 
many of Buckle's conclusions. Buckle's passage "is not, 
as it appeared to the illustrious Brazilian writer, 'true in 
a general sense.' Yet it should 'be meditated upon by 
all Brazilians', that they may see what a dangerous snare 
it is to rely so much, in our inveterate fondness for 
things foreign, upon the notions imported from the 
intellectual markets on the other side of the Atlan- 
tic. . . . Buckle's error consisted in considering the 
evolution of peoples solely under the influence of physical 
and geographical factors; more enduring than these are 
the ethnico-historical factors, which are much more im- 
portant and far more powerful than the first." Dc 
Carvalho adds little to Romero's refutation, which. In 
substance, he repeats. At the time that Buckle's first 
volume was originally published (1857), BrazIHan lit- 
erature had long entered upon an autonomous career 
and was In the throes of Romanticism, which in Brazil 
was an era of intense and highly fruitful production. 
He can hardly be blamed for his ignorance on this score, 
when an authority like Ferdinand Wolf, writing his Le 
Bresil Litteraire some six years later, is accused by the 

8 Op. Cit. 16-17. 


querulous Romero of setting down many laughable ex- 


Three ethnic strains have combined to produce the 
Brazilian of today: (i) the Portuguese, (2) the native 
Indian, (3) the African Negro, who was brought in as a 
slave by the Portuguese. 

The native element, known as the Brazilian-Guarany, 
at the time of the discovery knew no metals; they pos- 
sessed a rudimentary knowledge of weaving, and some of 
them practised ceramics; their instruments were of pol- 
ished stone, and their fishing and hunting implements 
were of the most primitive. The form of organization 
was rough. "Some spoke a rich language of delicate ac- 
cents and varied expression; they had traditional cus- 
toms and were skilful in the arts of war and peace; 
others, however, were coarse, deficient in culture, roam- 
ing in nomadic bands along the coast or amidst the high 
sertoes. Some respected certain rules of morality and 
religion, in which, for example, the family ties were 
sacred. . . ." '^ Others dwelt in a certain "embryonic 
socialism" which permitted free love and the participa- 
tion of woman in masculine pursuits. Ethnologists are 
not agreed upon the religious status of the tribes, hover- 
ing between the hypotheses of polytheism and anthropo- 
morphic animism; the latter is more likely. 

The Portuguese came at the height of their national 
glory. The sixteenth century, famed among them for 
its physical prowess, is also the epoch of Camoes, Sa da 
Miranda, Bernardim Ribeiro and Gil Vicente. As to 

9De Carvalho. Op. Cit. P. 27. 


the Negro, his history in Brazil is much the same as that 
of the blacli slave in the United States, except that, 
owing to the proportions of interbreeding, ihe "color 
line" is less tightly drawn in the southern republic. 

Two chief ethnic periods of formation have been dis- 
tinguished in Brazil's development, the first from the 
XVIth century to the end of the XVIIIth; the second, 
from the opening of the XlXth century to the present 
day. In the first period there was, chiefly, a crossing of 
the Portuguese with the Indian (mameluco) , of the Por- 
tuguese with the Negro (miilato) and of the Indian 
with the Negro (cafuso). Later interbreeding becomes 
more complex, owing to the influx of new immigrants 
from Europe (Italians and Germans in particular, 
and Slavs in the south), and to the abolition of black 
slavery. So that the question has arisen whether the fu- 
ture of the land will be in the hands of the Luso-Brazilian 
or the Teuto-Italo-Brazilian. Brazilians naturally fa- 
vour the former eventuality and in order to insure dom- 
inance by the Portuguese-Brazilian element propose new 
systems of colonization as well as immigration zones. 
Romero reached the conclusion that the Brazilian people 
did not constitute a race, but rather a fusion. As to 
whether this was a good or an evil he answered, in 
his "sclentlficlst" way, that it was a fact, and that 
this should be sufiicient Since the Indian is fast disap- 
pearing and as traffic in blacks was abolished in 185 1, 
and slavery in 1888, white predominance seems assured. 
"Every Brazilian," said Romero, "is a mestee, if not 
in blood, in ideas." So that white supremacy, never 
an unmixed blessing, does not, and cannot under the cir- 
cumstances, imply an unmixed mentality. 



What of the effect of this milieu and this racial blend 
upon the nation's tongue and its creative output? The 
Brazihan is by nature melancholy, for melancholy is an 
attribute of each of the three streams that flow in his 
blood. The peculiar, haunting sadness of the Portuguese 
lyric muse is summed up in their untranslatable word 
"saudade" i^*^ both the conquered native and the subjected 
black are sad, the first through the bepuzzled contact with 
superior natural forces, the second through the wretched- 
ness of his economic position. It has been recognized 
that the climate of Brazil has resulted in a lyrism 
sweeter, softer and more passionate than that of the 
Portuguese. "Our language," says Romero, "is more 
musical and eloquent, our imagination more opulent." 
So, too, De Carvalho: "Brazilian prosody has more 
delicate accents than the Portuguese and numerous inter- 
esting peculiarities." 

In the matter of linguistic modification, as of racial 
blend and national psychology, we of the North have 
problems similar to those of the Brazilians, — problems 
often enough obscured by unscientific, sentimental fixa- 
tions or political dogma. The simple fact is that life, 
in language as In biology, is change. Whether we are 
concerned with the evolution of English In the United 
States, of Spanish In the cluster of Spanish-American 
republics, or of Portuguese in Brazil, change is the In- 
evitable law. For the Spanish of Spanish-America, Remy 
de Gourmont, with his insatiable appetite for novelty, 
originated the term neo-Spanish. It met with much op- 

10 Saudade. Compare English longing, yearning, or German Sehnsucht. 


position from the purists, yet it recognizes the ineluc- 
table course of speech. The noted Colombian philol- 
ogist Rufino Cuervo, in a controversy with the genial 
conservative Valera, voiced his belief that the Spanish 
of the new world would grow more and more unlike the 
parent tongue. ^^ In the same spirit, if with most un- 
academic hilariousness, Mencken has, in The Amer- 
ican Language,^'^ indicated the lines of cleavage between 
English and "American." Brazilian scholars have na- 
turally assumed a similar attitude toward their own 
language and have, likewise, met with the opposition of 
the purists. It does not matter, for the purpose of the 
present discussion, whether the linguistic cleavage in any 
of the instances here given will eventually prove so 
definite as to originate new tongues. Such an outcome 
is far less probable today than it was, say, in the epoch 
when Latin, through its vulgar form, was breaking up 
into the Romance languages. Widespread education 
and the printing press are conserving influences, acting 
as a check upon capricious modification. 

One of the soundest and most sensible documents upon 
the Portuguese language in Brazil comes from the pen of 
the admirable critic Jose Verissimo.^^ "As a matter of 
fact," he writes, "save perhaps in the really Portuguese 
period of our literature, which merely reproduced in an 

11 Rufino Jose Cuervo (1842-1911) was called by Menendez y Pelayo 
the greatest Spanish philologist of the Nineteenth Century. 

A species of national pride finds vent in philological channels through 
the discovery of "localisms" in each of the Spanish-American republics. 
At the most this is of dialectic or sub-dialectic importance, but it illustrates 
an undoubted trend and supports Cuervo's contentions. 

12 New York, 1921. Second Edition, Revised and Enlarged. 

13 Estudos de Literatura Brazileira. Sexta serie. Rio de Janeiro, 1907. 
Pp. 47-133- 


inferior fashion the ideas, the composition, the style and 
the language of the Portuguese (already entered upon its 
decadence), authors never wrote in Brazil as in Por- 
tugal; the masters of language abroad never had dis- 
ciples here to rival them or even emulate them. ... It 
would be a pure absurdity, then, to expect the Brazilian, 
the North American or the Spanish-American to write 
the classic tongue of his mother country." 

Chaucer wrote "It am I" where we would say "It is I" 
and where current colloquial usage, perhaps foreshadow- 
ing the accepted standard of tomorrow, says "It's me." 
English changes in England; why shall it cease to change 
in the United States? And justly, Verissimo asks a 
similar question for Brazil. "I have always felt," he 
remarks somewhat farther on, "that the Portuguese 
tongue never attained the discipline and the relative gram- 
matical and lexical fixity that other languages arrived at. 
I do not believe that among cultured tongues there is one 
that has given rise to so many controversial cases, or to 
so many and so diverse contradictions among its lead- 
ing writers." The fight about the collocation of per- 
sonal pronouns is waged so earnestly in Brazil that it 
has become as funny, in some of its aspects, as the quarrel 
of the "lo-istas" and the "le-istas" in Spain. And so 
true are Verissimo's words that as late as March, 192 1, 
a writer could complain in the Revista do Brazil '^ 
that "we are at the very height of linguistic bolshevism" ; 
the very next month, indeed, the editorial board of the 
same representative intellectual organ found it necessary 
to comment upon the various systems of orthography em- 

i*An important monthly published at Sao Paulo, then under the editor- 
ship of Srs. Afranio Peixoto and Monteiro Lobato. 


ployed by its contributors and to designate a choice. ^^ 
Verissimo, in accordance with A. H. Sayce, takes as his 
standard of grammatical correctness that which is "ac- 
cepted by the great body of those who speak a language, 
not what is laid down by a grammarian." Still more to 
the point, Verissimo, who was a man of exemplary 
honesty and fearlessness in a milieu that easily tempts 
to flattery and the other social amenities, declares that 
"if we are by language Portuguese, if through that tongue 
our literature is but a branch of the Portuguese, we have 
already almost ceased to be such . . . because of our 
fund of ideas and notions, which were all constituted out- 
side of Portuguese influence." The important thing, 
then, is "to have something to say, an idea to express, a 
thought to transmit. Without this, however deep his 
grammatical knowledge of the language, however per- 
fectly he apes the classics, no man is a writer." Platitu- 
dinous, perhaps, but how often some platitudes bear 
repetition ! 

The language of Brazil, then, is not the Portuguese 
of Lisbon. From the phonological viewpoint there is 
less palatalization of the final 5 and z than is customary 
in Portugal; Brazil has a real diphthong ou, which in 
Lisbonese has become a close o or the diphthong oi. 
Its pronunciation of the diphthong ei is true, whereas 
in Lisbon this approximates to ai (with a as in English 
above, or like the u of cut). Neither is the grammar 
identical with that of Portugal. "The truth is, that by 
correcting ourselves we run the danger of mutilating ideas 
and sentiments that are not merely personal. It is no 

15 Note, for example, the various spellings of the word literature here 
used as in the originals. 


longer the language that we are purifying; it is our spirit 
that we are subjebting to inexplicable servility. To 
speak differently is not to speak incorrectly. . . . To 
change a word or an inflexion of ours for a different one 
of Coimbra ^^ is to alter the value of both in favor of 
artificial and deceptive uniformity." ^'^ 

Brazilianisms, so-called, make their appearance very 
early; they are already present in the letters sent by 
the Jesuits, as well as in the old chronicles. New plants, 
new fruits, new animals compelled new words. Native 
terms enriched the vocabulary. Of course, as has hap- 
pened with us, often a word for which the new nation 
is reproached turns out to be an original importation 
from the motherland. One of the oldest documents in 
the history of Brazilianisms appeared in Paris during 
the first quarter of the XlXth century and is reprinted by 
Joao Ribeiro as a rarity little known to his countrymen; it 
formed part of the Introduction a I' Atlas ethnographique 
du globe, prepared by Adrien Balbi and covering the 
races and languages of the world. The Portuguese sec- 
tion was entrusted to Domingos Borges de Barros, baron 
and later viscount de Pedra Branca, a warm advocate of 
Brazilian independence, then recently achieved. This, 
according to Ribeiro, is supposed to constitute the "first 
theoretical contribution" to the study of Brazilianisms. 
It is written in French, and because of its documentary 
importance I translate it in good measure : 

"Languages reveal the manners and the character of 
peoples. That of the Portuguese has the savor of their 
religious, martial traits; thus the words honnete, galant, 

1^ The famous Portuguese seat of learning at Coimbra. 
1'^ Joao Ribeiro. A Lingua Nacional. Sao Paulo. 1921. 


heate^ bizarre, etc., possess a meaning quite different from 
that they have in French. The Portuguese tongue 
abounds in terms and phrases for the expression of im- 
pulsive movements and strong actions. In Portuguese 
one strikes with everything; and when the Frenchman, 
for example, feels the need of adding the word coup to 
the thing with which he does the striking, the Portuguese 
expresses it with the word of the instrument alone. 
One says, in French, tin coup de pierre; in Portuguese, 
pedrada (a blow with a stone) ; un coup de couteau 
is expressed in Portuguese by facada (a knife thrust) 
and so on. . . . 

"Without becoming unidiomatic, one rnay boldly form 
superlatives and diminutives of every adjective; this is 
done sometimes even with nouns. Harshness of the pro- 
nunciation has accompanied the arrogance of expression. 
. . . But this tongue, transported to Brazil, breathes 
the gentleness of the climate and of the character of 
its inhabitants ; it has gained in usage and in the expression 
of tender sentiments, and while it has preserved all its 
energy it possesses more amenity. . . . 

"To this first difference, which embraces the generality 
of the Brazilian idiom, one must add that of words which 
have altogether changed in accepted meaning, as well as 
several other expressions which do not exist in the Portu- 
guese language and which have been either borrowed 
from the natives or imported into Brazil by the inhabi- 
tants of the various oversea colonies of Portugal." 

There follow some eight words that have changed 
meaning, such, for example, as faceira, signifying lower 
jaw in Portugal, but coquette in Brazil; as a matter of 
fact, Ribeiro shows that the Portuguese critics who cen- 


sured this "Brazilianism" did not know the history of 
their own tongue. In the XVIIth century faceira was 
synonymous with pelintra, petimetre, elegante (respec- 
tively, poor fellow, dandy, fashionable youth) ; it became 
obsolete in Portugal, but in Brazil was preserved with 
exclusive application to the feminine. The Brazilian 
words unknown in Portugal are some fifty in number 
upon the Baron's list. 

Costa finds that Portuguese, crossing the Atlantic, 
'.'almost doubled its vocabulary, accepting and assimilat- 
ing a mass of words from the Indian and the Negro. 
Through the influence of the climate, through the new 
ethnic elements, — the voluptuous, indolent Negro and 
Indian, passionate to the point of crime and sacrifice, — 
the pronunciation of Portuguese by the Brazilian ac- 
quired, so to say, a musical modulation, slow, chanting, 
soft, — a language impregnated with poesy and languor, 
quite different from that spoken in Portugal." ^^ 


A new milieu and a racial amalgamation that effect 
changes in speech are bound soon or late to produce a 
new orientation in literature. The question whether that 
literature is largely derivative or independent is relatively 
unimportant and academic, as is the analogous question 
concerning the essential difference of language. The im- 

18 Varnhagen, in his Introduction to the Florilegio da Poesia Brazileira 
(Vol. I of the two volumes that appeared in Lisbon in 1850, pages 19-20), 
has some interesting remarks upon the early hispanization of Portuguese 
in Brazil. Among such effects of Spanish upon Brazilian Portuguese he 
notes the transposition of the possessive pronouns; the opening of all 
vowels, thus avoiding the elision of final e or converting final into u; 
the pronunciation of s at the end of a syllable as s instead of as sh, which 
is the Portuguese rule. 


portant consideration for us is that the law of change is 
operating, and that the change is in the direction of inde- 
pendence. Much has been written upon the subject of 
nationalism in art — too much, indeed, — and of this, alto- 
gether too large a part has been needlessly obscured by 
the fatuities of the narrowly nationalistic mind. There Is, 
of course, such a thing as national character, though even 
this has been overdone by writers until the traits thus 
considered have been so stencilled upon popular thought 
that they resemble rather caricatures than characteristics. 
True natlonahsm in literature is largely a product of the 
writer's unconscious mind; it is a spontaneous manifesta- 
tion, and no Intensity of set purpose can create It unless 
the psychological substratum is there. For the rest, 
literature belongs to art rather than to nationality, to 
esthetics rather than to politics and geography. ^® The 
consideration of literature by nations, then, is itself the 
province of the historian of Ideas; It is, however, a useful 
method of co-ordinating our knowledge and of explaining 
the personality of a country. If I bring up the matter 
here at all it Is because such a writer as Sylvlo Romero, 
intent upon emphasizing national themes, now and again 
distorts the image of his subject, mistaking civic virtue 

19 The wise Goethe onjce said to Eckermann: "The poet, as a man 
and citizen, will love his native land; but the native land of his poetic 
powers and poetic action is the good, noble and beautiful, which is con- 
fined to no particular province or country, and which he seizes upon 
and forms wherever he finds it. Therein is he like the eagle, who hovers 
with free gaze over whole countries, and to whom it is of no conse- 
quence whether the hare on which he pounces is running in Prussia or in 
Saxony. . . . And then, what is meant by love of one's country? What 
is meant by patriotic deeds? If the poet has employed a life in battling 
with pernicious prejudice, in setting aside narrow views, in enlightening 
the minds, purifying the tastes, ennobling the feelings and thoughts of 
his countrymen, what better could he have done? how could he have 
acted more patriotically? 


and patriotic aspiration for esthetic values, or worse still, 
deliberately exalting the former over the latter. The 
same Romero, for example, — a volcanic personality who 
never erred upon the side of modesty, false or true, — 
speaks thus of his own poetry: "... I initiated the 
reaction against Romanticism in 1870. . . ." And how 
did he initiate it? By calling for a poetry in agreement 
with contemporary philosophy. Now, it is no more the 
business of poetry to agree with contemporary philosophy 
than for it to "agree" with contemporary nationalism. 
Goethe, reproached for not having taken up arms in the 
German War of Liberation, "or at least co-operating as a 
poet," replied that it would have all been well enough to 
have written martial verse within sound of the enemy's 
horses; however, "that was not my life and not my busi- 
ness, but that of Theodor Korner. His war-songs suit 
him perfectly. But to me, who am not of a warlike na- 
ture and who have no warlike sense, war-songs would 
have been a mask which would have fitted my face very 
badly. ... I have never affected anything in my po- 
etry. ... I have never uttered anything which I have 
not experienced, and which has not urged me to produc- 
tion. I have only composed love-songs when I have 
loved. How could I write songs of hatred without hat- 
ing!" Those are the words of an artist; they could not 
be understood by the honourable gentleman who not so 
long ago complained in the British parliament because 
the poet laureate, Mr. Robert Bridges, had not produced 
any appropriate war-verse in celebration of the four 
years' madness. 

If, then, we note the gradual resurgence of the national 
spirit in Brazilian letters, it is primarily as a contribution 


to a study of the nation's self-consciousness. The fact 
belongs to literary history; only when vitalized by the 
breath of a commanding personality does it enter the 
realm of art. The history of our own United States 
literature raises similar problems, which have compelled 
the editors of The Cambridge History of American Liter- 
ature to make certain reservations. "To write the in- 
tellectual history of America from the modern esthetic 
standpoint is to miss precisely what makes it significant 
among modern literatures, namely, that for two centuries 
the main energy of Americans went into exploration, 
settlement, labour for sustenance, religion and statecraft. 
Tor nearly two hundred years a people with the same 
traditions and with the same intellectual capacities as their 
contemporaries across the sea found themselves obliged 
to dispense with art for art." -*^ The words may stand 
almost unaltered for Brazil. It is indicative, however, 
that where this condition favoured prose as against 
verse in the United States, verse in Brazil flourished from 
the start and bulks altogether too large in the national 
output. We may take it, then, as axiomatic that Brazilian 
literature is not exclusively national; no literature is, and 
any attempt to keep it rigidly true to a norm chosen 
through a mistaken identification of art with geography 
and politics is merely a retarding influence. Like all de- 
rivative literatures, Brazilian literature displays outside 
influences more strongly than do the older literatures with 
a tradition of continuity behind them. The history of 
all letters is largely that of intellectual cross-fertilization. 
From its early days down to the end of the XVIIIth 
century, the literature of Brazil is dominated by Portugal; 

20 New York, 1917. P. X. 


the land, intellectually as well as economically, is a colony. 
The stirrings of the century reach Brazil around 1750, 
and the interval from then to 1830, the date of the Ro- 
manticist triumph in France, marks what has been termed 
a transitional epoch. After 1830, letters in Brazil dis- 
play a decidedly autonomous tendency (long forecast, 
for that matter, in the previous phases), and exhibit that 
diversity which has characterized French literature since 
the Romantics went out of power. For It is France that 
forms the chief influence over latter-day Brazilian letters. 
So true Is this that Costa, with personal exaggeration, 
can write: "I consider our present literature, although 
written in Portuguese, as a transatlantic branch of the 
marvellous, Intoxicating French literature." -^ There 
can be no doubt as to the immense influence exercised upon 
the letters of Spanish and Portuguese America by France. 
A Spanish cleric,^- author of an imposing fourteen-vol- 
ume history of Spanish literature on both shores of the 
Atlantic, has even made out France as the arch vlllalness, 
who with her wiles has always managed to corrupt the 
normally healthy realism of the Spanish soul. Only yes- 
terday, in Brazil, a similar, if less Ingenious, attack was 
launched against the same country on the score of its de- 
nationalizing effect. Yet It is France which was chiefly re- 
sponsible for that modernism (1888-) which Infused 
new life into the language and art of Spanish America, 
later (1898) affecting the motherland itself. And If liter- 
ary currents have since, in Spanish America, veered to a 
new-world attitude, so are they turning In Brazil. From 

21 op. cit. p. 48. 

22 Julio Cejador y Frauca. Historia de la Lengua y L'lteratura Cas- 
tellana, Madrid, 1915 to the present. 


this to the realization that Art has no nationality is a for- 
ward step; some day it will be taken. As in the United 
States, so in Brazil, side by side with the purists and the 
traditionalists a new school is springing up, — native yet 
not necessarily national in a narrow sense; a genuine na- 
tional personality is being forged, whence will come the 
literature of the future. 

As to the position of the writer in Brazil and Spanish 
America, it is still a very precarious one, not alone from 
the economic viewpoint but from the climatological. "In- 
tellectual labour in Brazil," wrote Romero, "is torture. 
Wherefore we produce little; we quickly weary, age and 
soon die. . . . The nation needs a dietetic regimen 
. . . more than a sound political one. The Brazilian is 
an ill-balanced being, impaired at the very root of exis- 
tence; made rather to complain than to invent, contem- 
plative rather than thoughtful; more lyrical and fond 
of dreams and resounding rhetoric than of scientific, 
demonstrable facts." Such a short-lived, handicapped 
populace has everything to do with literature, says this 
historian. "It explains the precocity of our talents, their 
speedy exhaustion, our facility in learning and the super- 
ficiality of our inventive faculties." 

Should the writer conquer these difficulties, others await 
him. The reading public, especially in earlier days, was 
always small. "They say that Brazil has a population 
of about 13,000,000," comments a character in one of 
Coelho Netto's numerous novels. "Of that number 
12,800,000 can't read. Of the remaining 200,000, 
150,000 read only newspapers, 50,000 read French books, 
30,000 read translations. Fifteen thousand others read 


the catechism and pious books, 2,000 study Auguste 
Comte, and 1,000 purchase Brazilian works." And the 
foreigners? To which the speaker replies, "They don't 
read us. This is a lost country." Allowing for original 
overstatement, the figures do not, of course, hold for 
today, when the population is more than twice the number 
in the quotation, when Netto himself goes into edition 
after edition and, together with a few of his favoured 
confreres, has been translated into French and English 
and other languages. But they illustrate a fundamental 
truth. Literature in Brazil has been, literally, a triumph 
of mind over matter. Taken as a whole it is thus, at 
this stage, not so much an esthetic ais an autonomic af- 
firmation. Just as the nation, ethnologically, represents 
the fusion of three races, with the whites at the head, 
so, intellectually, does it represent a fusion of Portuguese 
tradition, native spontaneity and modern European cul- 
ture, with France still predominant. 

We may recapitulate the preceding chapter in the fol- 
lowing paragraph : 

Brazilian literature derives chiefly from the Portuguese 
race, language and tradition as modified by the blending 
of the colonizers with the native Indians and the imported 
African slaves. At first an imitative prolongation of the 
Portuguese heritage, it gradually acquires an autonomous 
character, entering later into the universal currents of 
literature as represented by European and particularly 
French culture. French ascendency is definitely estab- 
lished in 1830, and even well into the twentieth century 
most English, German, Russian and Scandinavian works 


come in through the medium of French criticism and as- 

No two literary historians of Brazil agree upon a plan 
of presentation. Fernandez Pinheiro (1872) and De 
Carvalho (19 19) reduce the phases to a minimum of 
three; the first, somewhat too neatly, divides them into 
that of the Formative Period (XVIth through XVIIth 
century), the Period of Development (XVIIIth cen- 
tury), the Period of Reform (XlXth century) ; the tal- 
ented De Carvalho accepts Romero's first period, from 
1500 to 1750, calling it that of Portuguese dominance, 
inserts a Transition period from 1750 to t"he date of the 
triumph of French Romanticism in 1830, and labels the 
subsequent phase the Autonomous epoch. This is better 
than Wolf's five divisions (1863) and the no less than 
sixteen suggested by the restless Romero in the resume 
that he wrote in 1900 for the Livro do Centenario. I 
am inclined, on the whole, to favour the division sug- 
gested by Romero in his Historia da Litteratura Bra- 
sileira ( 1902) ^^ 

Period of Formation: 1500-17 50 

Antonomous Development: 1 750-1 830 

23 In their Compendio de Historia da Literatura Brasileira (1909, Rio, 
2a edi^ao refundida) Sylvio Romero and Joao Ribeiro point out the ex- 
istence of a certain Germanism from 1870 to 1889, due chiefly to the con- 
stant labours of Tobias Barreto. Italian influence is very strong in law, 
and that of the United States in political organization. As will be 
seen in a later chapter, the United States had, through Cooper, a share 
in the "Indianism" of the Brazilian Romanticists. Our Longfellow, 
Hawthorne, Whitman and Poe are well known, the latter pair through 
French rather than the original channels. 

2* Rio. Second edition, Revised. 


Romantic Transformation: 1 830-1 870 

Critical, Naturalist Reaction, followed by 

Parnassians, Symbolists, etc.: 1870— 

The fourth division allows for the decidedly eclectic tend- 
encies subsequent upon the decline of Romanticism. 

Accordingly, the four chapters that follow will deal 
succinctly with these successive phrases of the nation's lit- 
erature. Not so much separate works or men as the suf- 
, fusing spirit will engage our attention; what we are here 
interested in is the formation and development of the 
Brazilian imaginative creative personality and its salient 
products. ^^ 

25 This by no means implies acceptance of Romero's critical standards. 
See, for details, the Selective Bibliography at the back of the book. 


The Popular Muse — Sixteenth Century Beginnings — Jesuit In- 
fluence — Seventeenth Century Nativism — The "Bahian" school — 
Gregorio de Mattos Guerra — First Half of Eighteenth Century 
— The Academies — Rocha Pitta — Antonio Jose da Silva. 

IT Is a question whether the people as a mass have 
really created the poetry and legends which long 
have been grouped under the designation of folk 
lore. Here, as in the more rarefied atmosphere of art, 
it is the gifted individual who originates or formulates the 
central theme, which is then passed about like a small 
coin that changes hands frequently; the sharp edges are 
blunted, the mint-mark is erased, but the coin remains 
essentially as at first. So that one may agree only half- 
way with Senhor De Carvalho, ^ when he writes that 
"true poetry is born in the mouths of the people as the 
plant from wild and virgin soil. The people is the great 
creator, sincere and spontaneous, of national epics, the 
inspirer of artists, stimulator of warriors, director of the 
fatherland's destinies." The people furnishes rather 
the background against which the epics are enacted, the 
audience rather than the performers. Upon the lore and 

iQp. Cit. P. 51. 



verses of their choosing they stamp the distinguishing folk 
impress; the creative inspiration here, as elsewhere, is 
the labour of the salient individual. 

The study of the Brazilian popular muse owes much 
to the investigations of the tireless, ubiquitous Sylvio 
Romero, whom later writers have largely drawn upon.^ 
There are no documents for the contributions of the 
Africans and few for the Tupys, whom Romero did not 
credit with possessing a real poetry, as they had not 
reached the necessary grade of culture. The most- 
copious data are furnished, quite naturally, by the Portu- 
guese. Hybrid verses appear as an aural and visible 
symbol of the race-mixture that began almost immedi- 
ately; there are thus stanzas composed of blended verses 
of Portuguese and Tupy, of Portuguese and African. 
Here, as example, is a Portuguese-African song tran- 
scribed by Romero in Pernambuco: 

Voce gosta de mim, 

Eu gosto de voce ; 

Se papa consentir, 

Oh, meu hem, 

Eu caso com voce. . . . 

Ale, ale, calunga, 

Mussunga, mussunga-e. 

Se me da de vestir, 
Se me da de comer, 
Se me paga a casa, 
Oh, meu hem, 
Eu moro com voce. . . . 

2 See his Cantos Populates do Brasil, Contos Populares do Brasil, 
Estudos sobre a Poesia Popular Brasileira. ' These works he summar- 
izes in Chapter VII, Volume I, of his Historia da Litteratura Brasileira, 
2a Ediqao melhorada pelo auctor. Rio de Janeiro, 1902. 


Ale, ale, calunga, 
Mussunga, mussunga-e. ^ 

On the whole, that same melancholy which is the hall- 
mark of so much Brazilian writing, is discernible in the 
popular refrain. The themes are the universal ones of 
love and fate, with now and then a flash of humour and 
earthy practicality. 

Romero, with his excessive fondness for categories (a 
vice which with unconscious humour he was the very first 
to flagellate), suggested four chief types of popular 
poetry, (i) \ht romances a.nd xacaras, (2) the reisados 
and chegancas, (3) the oracoes and parlendos, (4) 
versos geraes or quandrinhas. In the same way the folk 
tales are referred to Portuguese, native and African ori- 
gin, with a more recent addition of mestico (hybrid, 
mestee) material. "The Brazilian Sheherezade," writes 
De Carvalho,^ "is more thoughtful than opulent, she edu- 
cates rather than dazzles. In the savage legends Nature 
dominates man, and, as in the fables of y5^sop and La 
Fontaine, it is the animals who are charged with reveal- 
ing life's virtues and deficiencies through their ingenious 
wiles. . . . To the native, as is gathered from his most 
famous tales, skill was surely a better weapon than 
strength." Long ago, the enthusiastic Denis, the first to 
accord to Brazilian letters a treatment independent of 
those of Portugal,^ had commented on the blending of 

3 The frank, practical song, minus the African refrain, runs thus: 
"You like me and I like you. If pa consents, oh my darling, I'll marry 
you. ... If you'll give me my clothes and furnish my food, if you 
pay all the household expenses, oh, my darling, I'll come to live with 

4 Op. Cit. P. 58. 

^Resume de I'histoire Litteraire du Portugal su'wi du Resume de 
I'histoire litteraire du Bresil. Ferdinand Denis. Paris, 1826. The 
Brazilian section occupies pages 513-601. 


the imaginative, ardent African, the chivalrous Portu- 
guese, and the dreamy native, and had observed that "the 
ffiameliico is almost always the hero of the poetic tales 
invented in the country." For, underneath the crust of 
this civilization flows a strong current of popular inspira- 
tion. At times, as during the Romantic period, this be- 
comes almost dominant. "We all, of the most diverse 
social classes," avers De Carvalho, "are a reflection of 
this great folk soul, fashioned at the same time of melan- 
.choly and splendour, of timidity and common sense. Our 
folk lore serves to show that the Brazilian people, despite 
its moodiness and sentimentality, retains at bottom a 
clear comprehension of life and a sound, admirable inner 
energy that, at the first touch, bursts forth unexpected 
and indomitable." This is, perhaps, an example of that 
very sentimentality of which this engaging critic has been 
speaking, for the folk lore of most nations reveals pre- 
cisely these same qualities. For us, the essential point 
Is that Brazilian popular poetry and tale exhibit the char- 
acteristic national hybridism; the exotic here feeds upon 
the exotic.^ 


The sixteenth century, so rich In culture and accom- 
plishment for the Portuguese, is almost barren of litera- 
ture in Brazil. A few chroniclers, the self-sacrificing 
Father Anchieta, the poet Bento Teixeiro Pinto, — ^^and the 
list is fairly exhausted. These are no times for esthetic 
leisure; an Indifferent monarch occupies the throne in 

6 For an enlightening exposition of the Portuguese popular refrain 
known as cossantes, see A. F. G. Bell's Portuguese Literature, London, 
1922, pages 22-35. Their salient trait, like that of their Brazilian re- 
lative, is a certain wistful sadness. 


Lisbon for the first quarter of the century, with eyes 
turned to India ; in the colony the entire unwieldy ap- 
paratus of old-world civilization is to be set up, races are 
to be exterminated or reconciled in fusion, mines lure with 
the glitter of gold and diamonds; a nationality, however 
gradually and unwittingly, is to be formed. For, though 
the majority of Portuguese in Brazil, as was natural, 
were spiritually inhabitants of their mother country, 
already there had arisen among some a fondness for a 
land of so many enchantments. 

Jose de Anchieta (1530— 1597) is now generally re- 
garded as the earliest of the Brazilian writers. He is, 
to Romero, the pivot of his century's letters. For more 
than fifty years he was the instructor of the population; 
for his beloved natives he wrote grammars, lexicons, 
plays, hymns; a gifted polyglot, he employed Portuguese, 
Spanish, Latin, Tupy; he penned the first autos and mys- 
teries produced in Brazil. His influence, on the whole, 
however, was more practical than literary; he was not, in 
the esthetic sense a writer, but rather an admirable Jesuit 
who performed, amidst the greatest difficulties, a work 
of elementary civilization. The homage paid to his 
name during the commemoration of the tercentenary of 
his death was not only a personal tribute but in part, too, 
a rectification of the national attitude toward the Jesuit 
company which he distinguished. It was the Jesuits who 
early established schools in the nation (in 1543 they 
opened at Bahia the first institution of "higher educa- 
tion") ; it was they who sought to protect the Indians 
from the cruelty of the over-eager exploiters; Senhor 
Oliveira Lima has even suggested that it was owing to 
a grateful recollection of the services rendered to the 


country by the Jesuits that the separation between Church 
and State, decreed by the Republic in 1890, was effected 
in so dignified and peaceful a manner. Lima quotes 
Ribeiro to the effect that the province of Brazil already 
possessed three colegios in Anchieta's time, and that the 
Jesuits, by the second half of the sixteenth century had 
already brought at least 100,000 natives under their 
guidance.''' Romero, "scientifist" critic that he was, con- 
sidered the Jesuit influence "not at all a happy one in the 
intellectual and esthetic formation of the new nation- 
ality." Of one thing we may be quite certain, in any 
event: Anchieta's position as precursor is more secure 
than his merits as a creative spirit. His chief works are 
Brasilica Societatis Historia et vita clarorum Patriim qui 
in Brasilia vixerunt, a Latin series of biographies of his 
fellow-workers; Arte da grammatica da litigoa mats 
usada na costa do Brasil, a philological study; his Cartas 
(letters) ; and a number of aiitos and poems. 

Next to Anchieta, Bento Teixeira Pinto, who flour- 
ished in the second half of the sixteenth century, is 
Brazil's most ancient poet.^ Much ink has been spilled 
over the question as to whether he was the author of the 
entertaining Dialogo das Grandezas do Brazil and the 
scrupulous Varnhagen, who at first denied Bento Teix- 
eira's authorship of that document, later reversed his 
position. Similar doubt exists as to the real author of 
the Relacdo do Naufragio que passou Jorge de Albu- 
querque Coelho, vindo do Brasil no anno de 156^, a mov- 

■^ Oliveira Lima. Formacion Historica de la Nacionalidad Bras'tlena. 
Madrid, 1918. This Spanish version, by Carlos Pereyra, is much easier 
to procure than the original. Pp. 35-38. 

8 See, however, on the matter of priority, Jose Verissimo's Estudos de 
LiUratura Brazileira, Quarta Serie- Pp. 25-64. 


ing prose account of a shipwreck in which figures the 
noble personage of the title, but wherein the supposed 
author nowhere appears. 

To that same noble personage, governor of Pernam- 
buco, is dedicated the Prosopopea, undoubtedly the work 
of Bento Teixeira, and just as undoubtedly a pedestrian 
performance in stilted hendecasyllabic verses, ninety-four 
octaves in all, in due classic form. There is much imi- 
tation of Camoes, who, indeed, entered Brazilian liter- 
ature as a powerful influence through these prosaic lines 
of Bento Teixeira. "His poem (i, e., the Lusiads of 
Camoes) is henceforth to make our epics, his poetic lan- 
guage will provide the instrument of our poets and his 
admirable lyrism will influence down to the very present, 
our own in all that it has and preserves of sorrow, long- 
ing, nostalgia and Camonean love m.elancholy." ^ 

In the Prosopopea occurs a description of the rec'ife 
of Pernambuco which has been looked upon as one of the 
first evidences of the Brazilian fondness for the native 
scene. The passage is utterly uninspired; Neptune and 
Argos rub shoulders with the harharos amid an insipid 
succession of verses. Verissimo sees, in the entire poem, 
no "shadow of the influence of the new milieu in which 
it was conceived and executed." The earliest genuine 
manifestation of such nativism in poetry he does not dis- 
cover until A lUia da Mare, by Manoel Botelho de Oliv- 
eira, which, though published in the eighteenth century 
was, most likely, written in the seventeenth. 


9 Ibid. P. 54. Also pp. 63-64. "To be the first, the most ancient, the 
oldest in any pursuit, is a merit. . . . This is the only merit that Bento 
Teixeira can boast." 

i<^ Verissimo, always a suggestive commentator, presents an interesting 
reason for these early national panegyrics. See the essay cited in the 


The chroniclers of the early colonial period present 
chiefly points of historic, rather than literary, interest. 
Pero de Magalhaes Gandavo, with his Historia da Prov- 
incia de Santa Cruz a que vulgarmente cha^namos Brasil 
(with a verse-letter by Luiz de Camoes as preface, pub- 
lished in 1576 in Lisbon, is regarded as the first in the 
long line of historians; even today he is valuable as a 
source. Gabriel Soares de Souza^ is far better known for 
his Tractado descriptivo do Brasil em 1587, printed in 
1851 by Varnhagen and highly praised by that volumin- 
ous investigator for its "profound observation." . . . 
"Neither Dioscorides nor Pliny better explains the plants 
of the old world than Soares those of the new. ... It is 
astonishing how the attention of a single person could oc- 
cupy itself with so many things . . . such as are con- 
tained in his work, which treats at the same time, in re- 
lation to Brazil, of geography, history, typography, 
hydrography, intertropical agriculture, Brazilian horti- 
culture, native materia medica, wood for building and for 
cabinet-work, zoology in all its branches, administrative 
economy and even mineralogy!" 

Of less importance is the Jesuit Father Fernao Car- 
dim ( 1540— 1625), whose work was made known in 1847 
by Varnhagen under the geographic title Narrativa epis- 
tolar de uma viagem e missao jesnitica pela Bahia, Ilheos, 
Porto Seguro, Pernambiico, Esp'nito Santo, Rio de Jan- 
eiro, etc. It consists of two letters, dated 1583 and 
addressed to the provincial of the Company in Portugal. 

preceding notes, pages 50-51. He attributes the swelling fhorus of eu- 
logies to what might today be called a national "inferiority complex." 
"Having no legitimate cause for glory, — great deeds accomplished or 
great men produced, — we pride ourselves ingenuously upon our primi- 
tive Nature, or upon the opulence, — which we exaggerate — of our soil." 


Father Cardim was translated Into English as early as 
1625, being thus represented by the manuscript called Do 
Principo e origem dos indios do Brasil e de sens cos- 
tumes, adoraqao e cerei?ionias, if this is, as Capistrano 
de Abreu has tried to prove, really the work taken in 
1 60 1 by Francis Cook from a Jesuit bound for Brazil. 
For, "it was exactly in this year . . . that Father Fer- 
nao Cardim, who was returning to Brazil from a voyage 
to Rome, was taken prisoner by English corsairs and 
brought to England." 

There is little profit in listing the men and works of 
this age and character. According to Romero the chron- 
iclers exhibit thus early the duplex tendency of Brazilian 
literature, — description of nature and description of the 
savage. The tendency grows during the seventeenth 
century and in the eighteenth becomes predominant, so 
that viewed in this light, Brazilian natlvism, far from 
being the creation of nineteenth century Romanticism, was 
rather a historic prolongation. 


The sporadic evidences of a nascent natlvism become 
in the seventeenth century a conscious affirmation. The 
struggle against the Dutch in Pernambuco and the 
French in Maranhao compelled a union of the colonial 
forces and instilled a sort of Brazilian awareness. The 
economic situation becomes more firm, so that Romero 
may regard the entire century as the epoch of sugar, even 
as the succeeding century was to be one of gold, and the 
nineteenth, — as indeed the twentieth, — one of coffee. 
Agriculture even before the mines, — as Lima has pointed 


out, — was creating the fortune of the land.^^ "|The new 
society of the prosperous American colony is no longer 
essentially Portuguese; the mill-owners, well off and intel- 
ligent, forming a sort of rural aristocracy, similar to that 
of the feudal barons, are its best-read and most enlight- 
ened representatives. Around this tiny but powerful 
nucleus revolve all the political and economic affairs of 
the young nationality. Two profoundly serious factors 
also appear: the Brazilian family, perfectly constituted, 
and a hatred for the foreigner, nourished chiefly by re- 
ligious fanaticism. The Lutheran, English or Flemish, 
was the common enemy . . . against whom all vengeance 
was sacred, all crime just and blessed." ^^ 

In Brazilian literature, the century belongs mainly to 
Bahia, which during the second half became a court in 
little, with its governor as the center of a luxurious en- 
tourage. Spanish influence, as represented in the all- 
conquering Gongora, vied with that of the poets of the 
Italian and Portuguese renaissance; Tasso, Lope de 
'Vega, Gabriel de Castro and a host of others were much 
read and imitated. And in the background rose a rude 
civilization reared upon slavery and greed, providing rich 

11 Oliveira Lima, op. cit. pages 45-46, comments interestingly upon 
Brazil's lack of a national poet during the sixteenth century. "Brazil 
did not possess, during the XVIth century a national poet who could ex- 
press, with all the sincerity of his soul, the passion of the struggle un- 
dertaken by culture against nature. . . . And this absence of a repre- 
sentative poet is evidenced throughout our literature, since, after all, the 
Indianism of the XlXth century was only a poetic convention grafted 
upon the trunk of the political break with the Portuguese fatherland. 
. . . The fact is that the exploits of yesterday still await the singer 
who shall chant them. The Indians were idealized by a Romanticism 
in quest of elevated souls; the Africans found defenders who rose in 
audacious flight, but the brave pioneers of the conquest, men of epic 
stature, have not received even the same measure of sympathy." 

12 Ronald de Carvalho. Op. Cit, P. 87-88. 


material for the satirical shafts of Gregorio de Mattos 
Guerra, well-named by his contemporaries the "hell- 
mouth" of Bahia, In Antonio Vieira and Gregorio 
Mattos, Romero discovers the two antagonistic forces of 
the epoch : Vieira, the symbol of "Portuguese arro- 
gance in action and vacuity in ideas"; Gregorio Mattos, 
the most perfect incarnation of the Brazilian spirit, "face- 
tious, informal, ironic, sceptical, a precursor of the Bo- 
hemios." As we shall presently note, opinion upon the 
"■hell-mouth's" Brazilianism is not unanimous. 

The salient chroniclers and preachers of the century 
may be passed over in rapid review. At their head 
easily stands Frei Vicente do Salvador, (1564—1536-39) 
author of the Historia da Ciistodia do Brasil, which was 
not published until 1888, more than two hundred and 
sixty years after it was written (1627). His editor, 
Capistrano de Abreu, has pointed out his importance as 
a reagent against the dominant tendency of spiritual serv- 
itude to Portugal. "To him Brazil means more than a 
geographical expression; it is a historical and social term. 
The XVIIth century is the germination of this idea, as 
the XVIIIth is its ripening." The Historia possesses, 
furthermore, a distinct importance for the study of folk 
lore. Manoel de Moraes ( 1586-165 1) enjoys what 
might be called a cenotaphic renown as the author of a 
Historia da America that has never been found. Little 
more than names are Diogo Gomes Carneiro and Frel 
Christovao da Madre de Deus Luz. 

Of far sterner stuff than his vagrant brother Gregorio 
was the preacher Eusebio de Mattos (1629— 1692) who 
late in life left the Company of Jesus. There is little in 


his sermons to fascinate the modern mind or rejoice the 
soul, and one had rather err in the company of his Bohe- 
mian brother. As Eusebio was dubbed, in the fashion 
of the day, a second Orpheus for his playing upon the 
harp and the viola, so Antonio de Sa (1620— 1678) be- 
came the "Portuguese Chrysostom," Yet little gold 
flowed in his speech, which fairly out-G6ngora-ed Gon- 
gora himself. "His culture, like that of almost all the 
Jesuits was false; rhetorical rather than scientific, swollen 
rather than substantial." ^^ 

The poets of the century narrow down to two, of 
whom the first may be dismissed with scant ceremony. 
Manoel Botelho de Oliveira (i 636-171 1) was the first 
Brazilian poet to publish a book of verses. His Miisica 
do Parnaso em quatro coros de rimas portuguezas, cas- 
telhanas, itaJianas e latinas, com sen descante comico re- 
diizido em duas comedias was published at Lisbon in 1705. 
Yet for all this battery of tongues there is little in the 
book to commend it, and it would in all likelihood be all 
but forgotten by today were it not for the descriptive 
poem A Ilha da Marc, in which has been discovered, — as 
we have seen in our citation from Verissimo, — one of the 
earliest manifestations of nativism; Botelho de Oliveira's 
Brazilianism, as appears from his preface, was a con- 
scious attitude, and the patient, plodding cataloguing of 
the national fruit-garden precedes by a century the seventh 
canto of the epic Caramuru; but for all this, there are in 
the three hundred and twenty-odd lines of the poem only 
some four verses with any claim to poetic illumination. 
The depths of bathetic prose are reached in a passage oft 

13 De Carvalho. Op. P. 96-97. 


quoted by Brazilian writers ; it reads like a seed catalogue : 

Tenho explicado as fruitas e os legumes, 
Que dao a Portugal muitos ciumes; 

Tenho recopilado 
O que Brasil contem para invejado, 
E para preferir a toda terra, 
Em si perfeitos quatro AA encerra. 
Tem o primeiro A, nos arvoredos 
Sempre verdes aos olhos, sempre ledos; 
Tem o segunda A nos ares puros, 
Na temperie agradaveis e seguros; 
Tem o terceiro A, nas aguas frias 
Que refrescam o peito e sao sadias, 
O quarto A, no assucar deleitoso. 
Que e do mundo o regalo mais mimoso; 
Sao, pois, OS quatro AA por singuares 
Arvoredos, assucar, aguas, ares. ^* 

All of which bears almost the same relation to poetry 
as the grouping of the three B's (Bach, Beethoven and 
Brahms) to musical criticism. Romero found the poet's 
nationalism an external affair; "the pen wished to de- 
pict Brazil, but the soul belonged to Spanish or Portu- 
guese cultism." So, too, Carvalho, who would assign 
the genuine beginnings of Brazilian sentiment to Gre- 
gorio de Mattos, 

Gregorio de Mattos Guerra (i 633-1 696) is easily the 

14 "I have explained the fruits and the vegetables that cause so much 
jealousy on Portugal's part; I have listed those things for which Brazil 
may be envied. As title to preference over all the rest of the earth it 
enfolds four A's. It has the first A in its arvoredos (trees), ever green 
and fair to gaze upon; it has the second A in its pure atmosphere {ares), 
so pleasant and certain in temperature; it has the third A in its cool 
waters {aguas), that refresh the throat and bring health; the fourth A 
in its delightful sugar (assucar), which is the fairest gift of all the 
world. The four A's then, are arvoredos, assucar, aguas, ares. 


outstanding figure of his day. Romero, who considered 
him the pivot of seventeenth-century letters in Brazil, 
would claim for him, too, the title of creator of that liter- 
ature, because he was — though educated, like most of 
the cultured men of his day, at Coimbra — a son of the 
soil, more nationally minded than Anchieta and in perfect 
harmony with his milieu. He reveals a Brazilian man- 
ner of handling the language; indeed, he "(is the docu- 
ment in which we can appreciate the earliest modifica- 
. tions undergone by the Portuguese language in America. 
. . ." He reveals a consciousness of being something 
new and distinct from Europe's consideration of the new- 
world inhabitants as a species of anima vilis. He repre- 
sents the tendency of the various races to poke fun at 
one another. More important still, he betrays a nas- 
cent discontent with the mother country's rule. He is 
"the genuine imitator of our lyric poetry and of our 
lyric intuition. His brasileiro was not the caboclo nor 
the Negro nor the Portuguese; he was already the son of 
the soil, able to ridicule the separatist pretensions of the 
three races." Thus far Romero. Verissimo however — 
and the case may well be taken as an instance of the un- 
settled conditions prevailing in Brazilian literary criti- 
cism — takes a view antipodally apart. "The first gen- 
eration of Brazilian poets, Gregorio de Mattos included, 
is exclusively Portuguese. To suppose that there is in 
Gregorio de Mattos any originality of form or content 
is to show one's ignorance of the Portuguese poetry of 
his time, and of the Spanish, which was so close to It and 
which the Portuguese so much imitated, and which he, in 
particular, fairly plagiarized." ^^ Long ago, Ferdinand 
^^Estudos, quarta serie. P. 47-48. 


Wolf, in the first history of Brazilian letters that made 
any claims to completeness,^*^ noted the poet's heavy in- 
debtedness to Lope de Vega and Gongora, and his servile 
imitation of Quevedo. 

Verissimo, I believe, overstates his case. That Gre- 
gorio de Mattos was not an original creative spirit may 
at once be admitted. But he was an undoubted per- 
sonality; he aimed his satiric shafts only too well at prom- 
inent creatures of flesh and blood and vindictive pas- 
sions ; he paid for his ardour and temerity with harsh exile 
and in the end would seem even to have evinced a sincere 
repentance. The motto of his life's labours, indeed, 
might be a line from one of his most impertinent poems: 

"Eu, que me nao sei calar". . . 

I, who cannot hold my tongue . . . 

Nor did Gregorio de Mattos hold his tongue, whether 
in the student days at Coimbra — where already he was 
feared for that wagging lance — or during his later vicis- 
situdes in Brazil. In 1864 he married Maria dos Povos, 
whose reward for advising him to give up his satiric 
habits was to be made the butt of his next satire. It 
would have been a miracle if he were either happy with 
or faithful to her; he was neither. He slashed right 
and left about him; argued cases — and won them! — in 
rhyme; poverty, however, was his constant companion, 
so that, for other reasons aplenty, his wife soon left 
him. Now his venom bursts forth all the less restrained. 
Personal enmities made among the influential were bound 

^^ Le Bresil Litteraire. Histolre de la Litterahire bresilienne suwie 
d'un cho'ix de morceaux tires des meilleurs auteurs b (r) esiliens par 
Ferdinand Wolf. Berlin, 1863. See, for a discussion of this book, the 
Selective Critical Bibliography at the back of the present work. 


soon or late to recoil upon him and toward the end of 
his life he was exiled to the African colony of Angola. 
Upon his return to Brazil he was prohibited from writ- 
ing verses and sought solace in his viola, in which he was 

Gregorio de Mattos's satire sought familiar targets: 
the judge, the client, the abusive potentate, the venal 
religious. "Perhaps without any intention on his part," 
suggests Carvalho, "he was our first newspaper, wherein 
are registered the petty and great scandals of the epoch, 
the thefts, crimes, adulteries, and even the processions, 
anniversaries and births that he so gaily celebrated in his 
verses." ^'^ His own countrymen he likened to stupid 
beasts of burden: 

Que OS Brasileiros sao bestas, 
E estao sempre a trabalhar 
Toda a vida por manter 
Maganos de Portugal. ^* 

There is a tenderer aspect to the poet, early noted in 
his sonnets; despite the wild life he led there are accents 
of sincerity in his poems of penitence; no less sincere, if 
less lofty, are his poems of passion, in which love is faun- 
esque, sensual, a thing of hot lips and anacreontic aban- 
don. He can turn a pretty (and empty) compliment 
almost as gracefully as his Spanish models. But it is 
really too much to institute a serious comparison between 
him and Verlaine, as Carvalho would do. Some outward 
resemblance there is in the lives of the men (yet how com- 
mon after all, are repentance after ribaldry, and connubial 

17 Op. Cit. p. 109. 

IS The Brazilians are beasts, hard at work their lives long, in order 
to support Portuguese knaves. 


infelicity) , but Carvalho destroys his own case in the very 
next paragraph. For, as he indicates, the early Brazil- 
ian's labours "represent in the history of our letters, it is 
needful to repeat, the revolt of bourgeois common sense 
against the ridiculousness of the Portuguese nobility." 
How far from all this was the nineteenth century French- 
man, with a sensitive soul delicately attuned to Hfe's finer 
harmonies ! 

I am surprised that no Brazilian has found for Gre- 
gorio de Mattos Guerra a parallel spirit much nearer than 
Verlaine in both time and space. The Peruvian Ca- 
viedes was some twenty years younger than his Brazilian 
contemporary; his life has been likened to a picaresque 
novel. He was no closet-spirit and his addiction to the 
flesh, no whit less ardent than Gregorio's, resulted in 
the unmentionable affliction. He, too, repented, before 
marriage rather than after; his wife dying, he surrendered 
to drink and died four years before the Brazilian, if 1692 
is the correct date. As Gregorio de Mattos flayed the 
luxury of Bahia, so Caviedes guffawed at the sybarites 
of Lima.^^ 

He castigated monastic corruption, trounced the 
physicians, manhandled the priests, and his snickers 
echoed in the high places. He knew his Quevedo quite 
as well as did Gregorio and has been called "the first 
revolutionary, the most illustrious of colonial poets." -*' 
And toward his end he makes his peace with the Lord in 
a sonnet that might have been signed by Gregorio. 

Of Gregorio de Mattos I will quote a single sonnet 

19 For a good resume of Caviedes' labours, with valuable biographical 
indications, see Luis Alberto Sanchez, Historia de la Literatura Peruana, 
I. Los Poetas de la Colonia, Pp. 1 86-200, 

80 Ibid. P. 190. 


written in one of his more sober moods. There is a 
pleasant, if somewhat conventional, epigrammatical 
quality to it, as to more than one of the others, and there 
Is little reason for questioning its sincerity. Every 
satirist, at bottom, contains an elegiac poet, — the ashes 
that remain after the fireworks have exploded. If here, 
as elsewhere, only the feeling belongs to the poet, since 
both form and content are of the old world whence he 
drew so many of his topics and so much of his inspiration, 
there is an undoubted grafting of his salient personality 
upon the imported plant. 

Nasce o Sol; e nao dura mais que um dia, 
Depois da luz, se segue a noite escura, 
Em tristes sombras morre a formosura, 
Em continuas tristezas a alegria. 

Porem, se acaba o sol, porque nascia? 
Se formosa a luz e, porque nao dura? 
Como a belleza assim se trasfigura? 
Como o gosto, da pena assim se fia? 

Mas no sol, e na luz, fake a firmeza, 
Na formosura nao se da constancia, 
E na alegria, sinta-se a tristeza. 

Comece o mundo, emfim, pela ignorancia; 
Pols tem qualquer dos bens, por natureza, 
A firmeza somente na inconstancia. ^^ 

'21 The sun is born and lasts but a single day; dark night follows upon 
the light; beauty dies amidst the gloomy shadows and joy amid con- 
tinued grief. Why, then, if the sun must die, was it born? Why, if 
light be beautiful, does it not endure? How is beauty thus transfigured? 
How does pleasure thus trust pain? But let firmness be lacking in sun 
and light, let permanence flee beauty, and in joy, let there be a note of 
sadness. Let the world begin, at length, in ignorance; for, whatever 
the boon, it is by nature constant only in its inconstancy. 



The first half of the eighteenth century, a review of 
which brings our first period to a close, is the era of the 
bandeirantes in Brazilian history and of the Academies 
in the national literature. The external enemies had 
been fought off the outer boundaries in the preceding 
century; now had come the time for the conquest of the 
interior.-- The bandeirantes were so called from 
bandiera, signifying a band; the earliest expeditions 
into the hinterland were called entradas, and it is only 
when the exploring caravans grew more, numerous and 
organized that the historic name bandeirantes was be- 
stowed. Men and women of all ages, together with the 
necessary animals, composed these moving outposts of 
conquest. This was a living epic; the difficulties were all 
but insurmountable and the heroism truly superhuman. 
No literature this, — with its law of the jungle which is no 
law, — with its immitigable cruelty to resisting indigenous 
tribes, and finally, the internecine strife born of partial 
failure, envy and vindictiveness. 

While the bandeirantes were carrying on the tradition 
of Portuguese bravery — evidence of a restlessness which 
Carvalho would find mirrored even today in the "intel- 
lectual nomadism" of his countrymen, as well as in their 
political and cultural instability — the literary folk of the 
civilized centers were following the tradition of Portu- 
guese imitation. At Bahia and Rio de Janeiro Academies 

22 "The story of Xenophon's Ten Thousand is but a child's tale com- 
pared with the fearless adventure of our colonial brothers." Carvalho. 
Op. Cit. P. 127. 


were formed, evidencing some sort of attempt at unifying 
taste and aping, at a distance, the favourite diversion that 
the Renaissance had itself copied from the academies 
of antiquity. The first of these, founded in 1724 by the 
Viceroy Vasco Fernandez Cezar de Menezes, was chris- 
tened Academia Brazilica dos Esquecidos, — that is, the 
BraziHan Academy of those Forgotten or Overlooked 
by the Academia de Historia established, 1720, at Lis- 
bon. A sort of "spite" academy, then, this first Brazil- 
ian body, but constituting at the same time, in a way, a 
new-world affirmation. Among the other academies 
were that of the Felizes 1736 (i. e., happy), the Selectos, 
1752, and the Renascidos, 1759, (reborn) none of which 
continued for long. Although the influence of Gongora 
was receding, Rocha Pitta's Historia da America Portii- 
gueza is replete with pompous passages, exaggerated 
estimates and national "boostings" that read betimes 
like the gorgeous pamphlets issued by a tourist company. 
Pride in the national literature is already evident. The 
itch to write epics is rife; it bites Joao de Brito Lima, 
who indites a work (Cezaria) in 1300 octaves 
praising the Viceroy. Gonzalo Soares de Franca 
exceeds this record in his Brazilia, adding 500 octaves to 
the score. Manoel de Santa Maria Itaparica composes 
a sacred epic, Eustachidos, on the life of St. Eustace, in 
six cantos, each preceded by an octave summary; the 
fifth canto contains a quasiprophetic vision in which 
posterity, in the guise of an old man, requests the author 
to celebrate his native isle. This section, the Ilha da 
Itaparica, has rescued the poem from total oblivion. 
But the passage possesses hardly any transmissive fervor 


and the native scene is viewed through the glasses of 
Greek mythology. 

Some wrote In Latin altogether upon Brazilian topics, 
as witness Prudencio do Amaral's poem on sugar-man- 
ufacture (no less!) entitled De opifichio sacchario; the 
cultivation of manioc and tobacco were equally repre- 
sented in these psuedo-VIrgllian efforts. 

It is a barren half century for literature. Outside of 
the author of the Eustachidos and the two Important 
figures to which we soon come only the brothers 
Bartholomeu Lourengo and Alexandre de Gusmao are 
remembered, and they do no-t come properly within the 
range of literary history. The one was a physicist and 
mathematician; the other, a statesman. The latter In 
his Marido Confundido, 1737, wrote a comedy In reply 
to Mollere's Georges Dandin, much to the delight of the 
LIsbonese audiences. 

The two salient figures o-f the epoch are Sebastlao da 
Rocha Pitta (1660-1738) and Antonio Jose da Silva 


Brazilian critics seem well disposed to forget Rocha 

Pitta's mediocre novels and sterile verses; it is for his 

Historia that he Is remembered, and fondly, despite all 

the extravagances of style that mark the book. Romero 

regards it as a patriotic hymn, laden with ostentatious 

learning and undoubted leanings toward Portugal. 

Ollveira Lima's view, however, Is more scientific and 

historically dispassionate. One could not well expect of 

a writer at the beginning of the eighteenth century a 

nationalistic sentiment, "which In reality was still of 

necessity embryonic, hazy, or at least. Ill-defined. ... In 

pur historian, none the less, there reigns a sympathy for 


all that Is of his land." ^^ And, indeed, the Historia, as 
Romero wrote, is more a poem than a chronological 
narrative, cluttered with saints and warriors, prophets, 
heroes of antiquity and mediaeval days. 

"In no other region," runs one of the passages best 
known to Brazilians, "is the sky more serene, nor does 
dawn glow more beautifully; in no other hemisphere does 
the sun flaunt such golden rays nor such brilliant noc- 
turnal glints; the stars are more benign and ever joyful; 
the horizons where the sun is born or where it sinks to 
rest are always unclouded; the water, whether it be drunk 
from the springs in the fields or from the town aqueduct, 
is of the purest; Brazil, in short, is the Terrestrial Para- 
dise discovered at last, wherein the vastest rivers arise 
and take their course." 

I am inclined to question whether Antonio Jose da 
Silva really belongs to the literature of Brazil. Romero 
would make out a case for him on the ground of birth in 
the colony, family influences and the nature of his lyrism, 
which, according to that polemical spirit, was Brazilian. 
Yet his plays are linked with the history of the Portuguese 
drama and it is hard to discover, except by excessive 
reading between the lines, any distinctive Brazilian 
character. Known to his contemporaries by the sobri- 
quet O Judeu (The Jew) , Antonio Jose early experienced 
the martyrdom of his religion at the hands of the Inquisi- 
tion. At the age of eight he was taken to Portugal by 
his mother, who was summoned thither to answer 

23 Olivelra Lima. Aspectos da Litteratura Colonial Brazileira. Leip- 
zig, 1896. This youthful work of the eminent cosmopolite furnishes 
valuable as well as entertaining collateral reading upon the entire 
colonial period in Brazil. The standpoint is often historical rather 
than literary, yet the proportions are fairly well observed. 


the charge of Judaism; in 1726 he was compelled to an- 
swer to the same charge, but freed; hostile forces were 
at work against him, however, not alone for his religious 
beliefs but for his biting satire, and chiefly through the 
bought depositions of a servant he was finally convicted 
and burned on October 21st, 1739. The strains of one 
of his operettas fairly mingled with the crackling of the 
flames. This fate made of him a national figure in Bra- 
zil; the first tragedy written by a Brazilian makes of him 
the protagonist (O Poeta e a Inqtdsicao, 1839, by 
Magalhaes) ; the second of Joaquim Norberto de Sousa's 
Cantos Epicos is dedicated to him ( 1 86 1 ) . Still another 
literature claims Antonio Jose, who occupies an honoured 
place in the annals of the Jewish drama. ^* And it is not 
at all impossible that the melancholy which Romero dis- 
covers amidst the Jew's gay compositions is as much a 
heritage of his race as of the Brazilian niodinhasr^ Al- 
ready Wolf had found in Antonio Jose's musical farces 
a likeness to the opera bouffe of Offenbach, a fellow Jew; 
the Jew takes naturally to music and to satire, so that 
his prominence in the history of comic opera may be no 
mere coincidence. Satire and melancholy, twin sisters 
with something less than the usual resemblance, inhere in 
the race of Antonio Jose. 

Antonio Jose da Silva had in him much of the rollick- 
ing, roistering, ribald, rhyming rogue. For long, he 

24 See, for just such inclusion, B. Gorin's Die Geshichte vun Yiddishen 
Theater, New York, 1918, 2 vols. (In Yiddish.) Page 33. Volume 
I. With reference to the Jew and comic opera, rumours of Sir Arthur 
Sullivan's partial Jewish origin still persist. 

25 Diminutive of moda, and signifying, literally, a new song. The 
modinha is the most characteristic of Brazilian popular forms, a trans- 
formation of the troubadors' jdcara and the Portuguese fado. It is gen- 
erally replete with love and the allied feelings. 


he was the most popular of the Portuguese dramatists 
after Gil Vicente. He studied Rotrou, Moliere and the 
libretti of Metastasio to good advantage, and for his 
musical ideas went to school to the Italians. Sr. Ri- 
beiro has repudiated any connection between these con- 
ventionalized airs — the form of the verses is just as con- 
ventional — and the distinctiv^e Brazilian modinha; the 
truth is that Romero, eager to make as good an appear- 
ance for the national literature as possible, and realizing 
that the eighteenth century in Brazil needed all the help 
it could receive, made an unsuccessful attempt to dragoon 
Antonio Jose into the thin ranks. -^ As it is, his repu- 
tation in Portugal has suffered a decline, merging into the 
obscurity of the very foibles it sought to castigate. The 
martyred Jew has had no creative influence upon Bra- 
zilian literature. 

• ••••• •• 

The first phase of Brazilian letters is, then, a tentative 
groping, reflecting the numerous influences across the 
ocean and the instability of a nascent civilization at war 
on the one hand with covetous foreigners and on the 
other with fractious, indigenous tribes. The chroniclers 

25 The chief works of Antonio Jose da Silva are Vida do Grande D. 
Quixote de la Mancha e do gordo Sancho Pan^a (lys's) ; Ezopaida ou 
Vida de Ezopo (1734) ; Os Encantos de Medea (1735) ; Amphytriao ou 
Jupiter e Alcmena (1736) ; Lahyrintho de Creta (1736) ; Guerras do 
Alecrim e da Manjerona (1737) ; a highly amusing Molieresque farce, 
considered by many his best; As Variedades de Proteu (1737) ; Preci- 
picio de Faetonte (posthumous). 

The latest view of Antonio Jose (See Bell's Portuguese Literature, pages 
282-284) ; whom Southey considered "the best of their drama writers," 
is that his plays would in all likelihood have received little "attention 
in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries had it not been for the tragedy 
of the author's life." This probably overstates the case against O Judeu, 
but it indicates an important non-literary reason for his popularity. 


are in the main picturesque, informative, rambling rather 
than artistic; the poets are either vacuous or swollen with 
the pomp of old-world rhetoric. Even so; virile a spirit 
as Gregorio de Mattos conducts his native satire with 
the stylistic weapons forged in Europe, and the dawn of 
a valid nativism is shot through with gleams of spiritual 
adherence to Portugal and intellectual subjection to the 
old continent. Yet, as the child is father to the man, so 
even in these faltering voices may be detected the domin- 
ant notes of the later literature, — its imagination, its 
fondness for rotund expression, its pride of milieu, its 
Oriental exuberance, its wistful moodiness, its sensual 




Stirrings of Revolt — The Inconfidencia — Two Epics: Ura- 
■ ffuay and Caramuru — The Lyrists of Minas Geraes: Claudio da 
Costa, Gonzaga, Alvarenga Peixoto, Silva Alvarenga — Minor 
figures — Political Satire — Early Nineteenth Century — Jose Boni- 
facio de Andrade e Silva. 

STRUGGLE for the territory of Brazil had bred 
a love for the soil that was bound sooner or 
later to become spiritualized into an aspiration 
toward autonomy. The brasileiros were not forever to 
remain the bestas that the hell-mouth of Bahia had called 
them, nor provide luxury for the maganos de Portugal. 
The history of colonial exploitation repeated itself: Spain 
with Spanish-America, Portugal with Brazil, England 
with the future United States. Taxes grew, and with 
them, resentment. Yet, as so often, the articulation of 
that rebellious spirit came not from the chief sufferers of 
oppression, but from an idealistic band of poets whose 
exact motives have not yet been thoroughly clarified by 
historical Investigation. Few less fitted to head a sep- 
aratist movement than these lyric, idealistic spirits who 
form part of the Inconfidencia (Disloyalty) group im- 



mortalized in Brazilian history through the hanging of 
Tiradentes and the imprisonment and exile of a number 
of others. These men were premature in their attempt, 
and foredoomed to failure, but they lived, as well as 
wrote, an ideal and thus form at once an epoch in the 
national history and the nation's letters. The freedom 
won by the United States, the foreshadowing of the 
French revolution, inspired in them ideas of a Brazilian 
republic; how surely idealistic was such an aim may be 
realized when we recall that Brazil's emancipation was 
initiated with a monarchy (1822) and that, although it 
has been a republic since 1889, there are a number of 
serious thinkers who consider the more liberal form of 
government still less a boon than a disadvantage. 

In 1783, Luis da Cunha de Menezes, a vain, pompous 
fellow, was named Captain-General of the Province of 
Minas. It was against him that were launched the nine 
satirical verse letters called Cartas Chilenas and signed 
by the pseudonym Critillo (1786). Menezes was suc- 
ceeded by Barbacena (1788) who it was rumoured, 
meant to exact the payment of 700 arrohas of gold, over- 
due from the province. It was this that proved the im- 
mediate stimulus to an only half-proved case of revolt, 
which, harshly suppressed, deprived Brazil of a number 
of its ripest talents. 

From the name of the province — Minas Geraes — 
these poets have been grouped into a so-called Mineira 
school, which includes the two epicists, Frei Jose de Santa 
Rita Durao and Jose Basilio de Gama, and the four 
lyrists, Claudio Manoel da Costa, Thomas Antonio Gon- 
zaga, Ignacio Jose de Alvarenga Peixoto and Manoel 
Ignacio da Silva Alvarenga. 



Critics are not agreed upon the relative non-esthetic 
values of Basilia da Gama's Uraguay ( 1769) ^ and Santa 
Rita Durao's Caramurii (1781). Wolf, with Almeida- 
Garret, finds the first a truly national poem; Carvalho 
calls it "the best and most perfect poem that appeared in 
Brazil throughout the colonial period"; the early Denis 
found it not very original, for all its stylistic amenities; 
Romero, conceding its superiority to Caramtiru in style 
and form, finds it Inferior in historical understanding, 
terming the latter epic "the most Brazilian poem we 
possess." Verissimo, who has written an extended com- 
parison of the two poems,- is, to me, at least, most satis- 
fying of all upon the problems involved and the esthetic 
considerations implied. In both the epics he discerns 
the all-pervading influence of Camoes, the emulation of 
whom has seemed to cast upon every succeeding poet 
the obligation of writing his epic. Thus the chief initi- 
ators of Brazilian Romanticism, Porto Alegre and Magal- 
haes, had to indite, respectively, a Colombo and a Co7t- 
federacdo dos Tamoyos, and Goncalves Dias began Os 
Tymbiras, while Jose de Alencar, romantic of the Roman- 
tics, started a Ftlhos de Tupan, "jwhich happily for our 
good and his own, he never completed." But what ren- 
ders both the Uruguay and the Caramuru important in 
the national literature is the fact that they stand out from 
the ruck of earlier and later Camonean imitations by 
virtue of a certain spontaneity of origin and an intuitive, 
historic relation with their day. It is not known whether 

1 The original title was spelled Uraguay. Later writers either retain 
the first or replatee it with the more common u. 
^Estiidos. Segunda Serie, pp. 89-129. 


the authors, though contemporaries, knew each other or 
read their respective works. Yet both instinctively em- 
ployed indigenous material and revealed that same "na- 
tional sentiment which was already stammering, though 
timorously, in certain poets contemporaneous with them 
or immediately preceding, such as Alvarenga Peixoto and 
Silva Alvarenga, with whom there enter into our poetry, 
mingled with classical images and comparison, names and 
things of our own. Though like Basilio and Durao, 
loyal Portuguese, these poets speak already of fatherland 
with exaltation and love. The idea of the fatherland, the 
national thought, which in Gregorio de Mattos is as yet a 
simple movement of bad humour, vagrant spite and 
the revolt of an undisciplined fellow, becomes in them the 
tender affection for their native land. . . ." 

The Uruguay especially reveals this nascent national- 
ism as it existed among the loyal Portuguese in the epoch 
just previous to the Inconfidencia. "We must remember 
that the work of the Mineira poets" (and here Verissimo 
includes, of course, the lyrists to which we presently 
come) "abound in impressions of loyalty to Portu- 
gal. . . . Let us not forget Jose Bonifacio, the so-called 
patriarch of our Independence, served Portugal devot- 
edly first as scientist in official intellectual commissions 
and professor at the University of Coimbra, and then as 
volunteer Major of the Academic Corps against the 
French of Napoleon, and finally as Intendente Geral, or 
as we should say today. Chief of Police, of the city of 
Porto. And Jose Bonifacio, like Washington, was at 
first hostile, or at least averse, to independence." 

The Uruguay is certainly less intense than the Cara- 
muru in its patriotism. The author of the first wrote 


it, as he said, to satisfy a certain curiosity about Uruguay; 
also, he might have added, to flatter his patron, the then 
powerful Pombal, who, it will be recalled, at one time 
harboured the idea of transplanting the Portuguese 
throne to the colony across the sea. It would be an er- 
ror, however, to see in the small epic (but five cantos 
long) a glorification of the native. The real hero, as 
Verissimo shows, is not Cacambo, but the Portuguese 
General Gomes Freire de Andrade. The villains, of 
course, are the Jesuits out of whose fold the author had 
come, — the helpers of the Indians of Uruguay who re- 
volted against the treaty between Portugal and Spain 
according to which they were given into the power of the 
Portuguese. The action, for an epic, is thus restricted 
in both time and space, let alone significance, yet thus 
early the liberating genius of Basilio da Gama produced, 
for Portuguese literature, "its first romantic poem." 
Here is the first — or surely one of the first — authentic 
evidences of what the Spanish-American critics call 
"literary Americanism," — all the more interesting be- 
cause so largely unpremeditated. 

The "romanticism" of the Uruguay Is worth dwelling 
upon, if only to help reveal our long-tolerated termin- 
ological inadequacy.^ It begins, not with the regular 

3 In Portuguese literature, as Verissimo points out in his interesting 
parallel between the two epics, it is no easy matter to indicate the ex- 
act line between classic and romantic styles. A Frenchman has even 
spoken of the romanticism of the classics, which is by no means merely 
a sample of Gallic paradox. The Brazilian critic considers France the 
only one of the neo-Latin literatures that may be said to possess a genu- 
inely classic period. As I have tried to suggest here and elsewhere, we 
have need of a change in literary terminology; classic and romantic are 
hazy terms that should, in time, be supplanted by something more in 
consonance with the observations of modern psychology. The emphasis, 
I would say, should be shifted from the subject-matter and external 


invocation, but with a quasi-Horatian plunge in medias 
res. It does not employ the outworn octave, but sonor- 
ous blank verse. The freedom of its style and the har- 
mony of its verse "announce Garrett, Gongalves Dias * 
and the future admirable modellers of blank verse, in the 
distribution of the episodes and the novelty of language 
and simile." The language is not the Gongoristic ex- 
travagance of the Academicians; it is modern, even con- 
temporary, grandiloquent in the Spanish style. The "In- 
dianism" of the poem, in which Basilio da Gama fore- 
casts the later Indianism of the Romantics, is not to be 
confused with that later type; for it must be recalled 
that Basilio da Gama did not look upon his Indians with 
that sentimental veneration characteristic of the nine- 
teenth century Brazilians. As they were secondary to 
his purpose, so were they in his conception. "Two and 
distinct are the features of this aspect of our literature. 
The first Indianism, initiated by Basilio da Gama, con- 
tinued by Durao and almost limited to the two epics, is 
hardly more than a poetic artifice; the Indian enters as 
a necessity of the subject, a simple esthetic or rhetorical 
means. He is not sung, but is rather an element of the 
song. In the second Indianism, that of the Roman- 
tics, — the loftiest representative of which is Gon^alves 
Dias, — the Indian advances from the position of an acces- 
sory to that of an essential element; he is the subject 
and the object of the poem. In this first phase of Indian- 
aspects to the psychology of the writer and his intuitive approach. 
The distinctions have long since lost their significance and should there- 
fore be replaced by a more adequate nomenclature. 

4 Long before Verissimo, Wolf (1863) had written in his pioneer work 
already referred to, "Thus Jose Basilio da Gama and Durao only pre- 
pared the way for Magalhaes and Gongalves Dias." 


ism the sympathy of the poet is transferred only inciden- 
tally to the savage. . . . The contrary case obtains in 
the second phase; the sympathy of the poet is his entirely. 
So that, in the main, it is the attitude of the poet that 
distinguished the two Indianisms: indifferent in the first, 
sympathetic in the second." And since choices must be 
made, Verissimo is right when he finds the earlier poets 
nearer to the sociological truth in preferring Portuguese 
civilization, with all its defects, to the imaginary charms 
of indigenous life. Yet sociological error of the Roman- 
tic Indianists proved more than poetic truth, for it was 
fecund "not only for literature, but even for the develop- 
ment of the national sentiment." ... "O Uruguay 
possesses in Portuguese literature the value of being the 
first poem of a freer, newer, more spontaneous character 
after the series of epics derived from Os Lusiadas, 
and in Brazilian literature that of being the initiator 
of the movement which, whatever its aberrations, 
contributed the most to the independence of our let- 

ters. . . ." 

There is far less artistic pleasure in reading O Cara- 
murir, it may well be, as most agree, that is, rather than 
O Uruguay^ is the national poem, but such a distinction 
pertains rather to patriotism than to poetry. The better 
verses of the earlier epic are a balm to the ear and a 
stimulus to the imagination; those of the later lack com- 
municative essence. Santa Rita Durrio, proclaiming in 
his preface the parity of Brazil with India as the subject 
of an epic, thus places himself as a rival of Camoes; in- 
stead, he is an indifferent versifier and an unconscionable 
imitator; his patriotism, as his purpose, is avowed. The 


subject of his epic is the half-legendary figure of Diogo 
Alvares Correa,^ a sort of Brazilian John Smith, who, 
wrecked upon the coast, so impressed the natives with the 
seeming magic of his firearms that he was received as 
their chief. His particular Pocahontas was the maiden 
Paraguassu, whom he is supposed to have taken with him 
to France; here she was baptized — as the disproved story- 
goes — and at the marriage of the pair none less than 
Henry II and Catherine de Medicis stood sponsor to 

Paragussu's chief rival is Moema, and the one undis- 
puted passage of the poem is the section in which, to- 
gether with a group of other lovelorn maidens, she swims 
after the vessel that is bearing him and his chosen bride 
off to France. In her dying voice she upbraids him and 
then sinks beneath the waves. 

Perde o lume dos olhos, pasma e treme, 
Pallida a cor, o aspecto moribundo, 
Com a mao ja sem vigor soltando o leme, 
Entre as salsas espumas desce ao fundo; 
Mas na onda do mar, que irado frema, 

5 The natives named him Caramtirii, whence the name of the epic. 
The word has been variously interpreted as signifying "dragon risen 
out of the sea" (Rocha Pitta) and "son of the thunder" (Durao's own 
version), referring in the first instance to the man's rescue from the 
wreck and in the second to his arquebuse. Verissimo rejects any such 
poetic interpretation and maices the topic food for fruitful observation. 
He considers the Brazilian savage, as any other, of rudimentary and 
scant imagination, incapable of lofty metaphorical flights. "The Indians, 
infinitely less poetic than the poets who were to sing them, called Diogo 
Alvares as they were in the habit of calling themselves, by the name 
of an animal, tree or something of the sort. They named him Caramuru, 
the name of a fish on their coast, because they caught him in the sea 
or coming out of it. And to this name they added nothing marvellous, 
as our active imagination has pictured." And "this very sobriquet as 
well as the epoch in which it was applied, are still swathed in legend." 


Tornando a apparecer desde o prof undo: 
"Ah! Diogo cruel!" disse com magua. 
E sem mais vista ser, sorveu-se n'agua. ^ 

Yet there is a single line in O Uruguay which contains 
more poetry than this octave and many another of the 
stanzas in this ten-canto epic. It is that in which is des- 
cribed the end of Cacambo's sweetheart Lindoya, after 
she has drunk the fatal potion that reveals to her the des- 
truction of Lisbon and the expulsion of the Jesuits by 
P6mbal, and then commits suicide by letting a serpent 
bite her. 

Tanto ere bella no seu rostro a morte! 
So beautiful lay death upon her face! 

Like O Uruguay, so O Caramuru ends upon a note of 
spiritual allegiance to Portugal. It is worth while re- 
calling, too, that the Indian of the first is from a Spanish- 
speaking tribe, and that the Indian of the second is a 
native Brazilian type. 

And Verissimo points out that if the Indian occupies 
more space in the second, his role is really less signifi- 
cant than in O Uruguay. 


The four lyrists of the Mineira group are Claudio 
Manoel da Costa (1729-1789) ; Thomas Antonio Gon- 
zaga ( 1 744-1 807-9) the most famous of the quartet; 

^ The light of her eyes is extinguished, she swoons and trembles; her 
face grows pale, her look is deathly; her hands, now strengthless, let go 
the rudder and she descends to the bottom of the briny waves. But re- 
turning from the depths to the waves of the sea, which quivers in fury, 
"Oh, cruel Diogo!" she said in grief. And unseen ever after, she was 
engulfed by the waters. 


Jose Ignacio de Alvarenga Peixoto (1744-1793), and 
Manoel Ignacio da Silva Alvarenga (1749-18 14). Ex- 
amination of their work shows the inaccuracy of terming 
them a "Jschool," as some Brazihan critics have loosely- 
done. These men did not of set purpose advance an es- 
thetic theory and seek to exemplify it in their writings; 
they are children of their day rather than brothers-in- 
arms. Like the epic poets, so they, in their verses, fore- 
shadow the coming of the Romanticists some fifty years 
later; the spirits of the old world and the new contend in 
their lines as in their lives. They are, in a sense, transi- 
tion figures, chief representatives of the "Arcadian" 
spirit of the day. 

Claudio de Costa, translator of Adam Smith's "Wealth 
of Nations," was chiefly influenced by the Italians and 
the French. Romero, in his positive way, has catalogued 
him with the race of Lamartine and even called him a 
predecessor of the Brazilian Byronians. A certain sub- 
jectivity does appear despite the man's classical leanings, 
but there is nothing of him of the Childe Harold or the 
Don Juan. Indeed, as often as not he is a cold stylist 
and his influence, today, is looked upon as having been 
chiefly technical; he was a writer rather than a thinker or 
a feeler, and one of his sonnets alone has suggested the 
combined influence of Camoes, Petrarch and Dante: 

Que feliz fora o mundo, se perdida 

A lembranga de Amor, de Amor e gloria, 

Igualmente dos gostos a memoria 

Ficasse para sempre consumida! 

Mas a pena mais triste, e mais crescida 

He ver, que em nenhum tempo e transitoria 


Esta de Amor fantastica victoria, 
Que sempre na lembranqa e repetida. 

Amantes, os que ardeis nesse cuidado, 
Fugi de Amor ao venenozo intento, 
Que la para o depois vos tem guardado. 

Nao vos engane a infiel contentamento ; 
Que esse presente bem, quando passado, 
Sobrara para idea de tormento. "^ 

The native note appears in his work, as in A FabuJa do 
Riherao do Carmo and In Villa-Rica, but It Is neither 
strong nor constant. He Is of the classic pastoralists, 
"the chief representative," as Carvalho calls him, of 
Arcadism In Brazil. 

Of more enduring, more appealing stuff Is the famous 
lover Thomas Antonio Gonzaga, termed by Wolf a 
"modern Petrarch" (for all these Arcadians must have 
each his Laura) and enshrined in the hearts of his coun- 
trymen as the writer of their Song of Songs. For that, 
in a sense. Is what Gonzaga's poems tO; Marilia suggest. 
No other book of love poems has so appealed to the 
Portuguese reader; the number of editions through which 
the Marilia de Dirceii has gone Is second only to the print- 
ings of Os Lusiadas, and has, since the original issue In 
1792, reached to thirty-four. Gonzaga's Marilia (in 
real life D. Maria Joaquina Dorothea de Selxas Brandao) 
rises from the verses of these lyras into flesh and blood 
reality; the poet's love, however much redolent of Pe- 

^ How happy were the world, if, with the remembrance of '■ove and 
glory lost, the recollection of pleasures would likewise be consumed for- 
ever! But worst and saddest grief of all is to find that at no time is 
this fantastic victory of love transitory, for always it is repeated in 
remembrance. Lovers, you who burn in this fire, flee Love's venomous 
assault that it holds for you there in later days. Let not treacherous 


trarchian conventions, is no imagined passion. His heart, 
as he told her in one of his most popular stanzas, was 
vaster than the world and it was her abode. Gonzaga, 
like Claudio, was one of the Inconfidencia; he fell in love 
with his lady at the age of forty, when she was eighteen, 
and sentimental Brazilians have never forgiven her for 
having lived on to a very ripe old age after her Dirceu, 
as he was known in Arcadian circles, died in exile. Yet 
she may have felt the loss deeply, for a story which 
Verissimo believes authentic tells of D. Maria, once 
asked how old she was, replying: "When he was ar- 
rested, I was eighteen. . . ." It is sweet enough not 
to be true. 

As Antonio Jose, despite his Brazilian birth, is 
virtually Portuguese in culture and style, so Gonzaga, 
despite his Portuguese birth, is Brazilian by virtue of his 
poetic sources and his peculiar lyrism, — a blend of the 
classic form with a passion which, though admirably re- 
strained, tends to overleap its barriers. If, as time goes 
on, he surrenders his sway to the more sensuous lyrics of 
later poets, he is none the less a fixed star in the poetic 
constellation. He sings a type of constant love that 
pleases even amid today's half maddened and half mad- 
dening erotic deliquescence. Some poets' gods bring 
them belief in women ; his lady brings him a belief in God : 

Noto, gentil Marilia, os teus cabellos; 
E noto as faces de jasmins e rosas: 
Noto OS teus olhos bellos; 
Os brancos dentes e as feigoes mimosas: 

contentment deceive you ; for this present pleasure, when it has passed, 
will rep^ain as a tormenting memory. 


Quem fez uma obra tao perfeita e linda, 
Minha bella Marilia, tambem pode 
Fazer o ceo e mais, si ha mais ainda. ^ 

The famous book is divided into two parts, the first 
written before, the second, after his exile. As might be 
expected; the first is primaveral, aglow with beauty, love, 
joy. Too, it lacks the depth of the more sincere second, 
which is more close to the personal life of the suffering 
artist. He began in glad hope; he ends in dark doubt. 
"The fate of all things changes," runs one of his refrains. 
"Must only mine not alter?" One unconscious testimony 
of his sincerity is the frequent change of rhythm in his 
lines, which achieve now and then a sweet music of 

''Marilia de Dirceu," Verissimo has written, "is of 
exceptional importance in Brazilian literature. It Is the 
most noble and perfect idealization of love that we pos- 
sess." (I believe that the key-word to the critic's sen- 
tence is "idealization.") "Despite its classicism, it is 
above all a personal work; it is free of and superior to, 
the formulas and the rivalries of schools. ... It is per- 
haps the book of human passion, such as the many we 
have now in our literatures that are troubled and tor- 
mented by grief, by doubt or despair. It is, none the 
less, in both our poetry and in that of the Portuguese 
tongue, the supreme book of love, the noblest, the purest, 
the most deeply felt, the most beautiful that has been 

^I gaze, comely Marilia, at your tresses; and I behold in your cheeks 
the jessamine and the rose; I see your beautiful eyes, your pearly teeth 
and your winsome features. He who created so perfect and entrancing 
a work, my fairest Marilia, likewise could make the sky and more, if 
more there be. 


written in that itongue since Bernardim Ribeiro and the 
sonnets of Camoes." ^ 

Of the work of Alvarenga Peixoto, translator of 
Maffei's Merope, author of a score of sonnets, some 
odes and lyras and the Canto Genethliaco, little need here 
be said. The Canto Genethliaco is a baptismal offering 
In verse, written for the Captain-General D. Rodrigo Jose 
de Menezes In honour of his son Thomaz; It is recalled 
mainly for its "nativism," which, as is the case with the 
epic-writers. Is not inconsistent with loyalty to the crown. 
There is a certain Brazillanism, too, as Wolf noted. In 
his Ide to Maria. 

As Gonzaga had his Marllia, so the youngest of the 
Mineira group, Sllva Alvarenga, had his Glaura. In 
him, more than In any other of the lyrists, may be noted 
the stirrings of the later romanticism. He strove after, 
and at times achieved a cor americana ("American 
color"), and although he must introduce mythological 
figures upon the native scene, he had the seeing eye. 
Carvalho considers him the link between the Arcadians 
and the Romantics, "the transitional figure between the 
seventeenth-century of Claudio and the subjectivism of 
Goncalves Dias." To the reader In search of esthetic 
pleasure he is not such good company as Gonzaga and 
Marllia, though he possesses a certain communicative 


The question of the authorship of the Cartas Chilenas, 
salient among satirical writings of the eighteenth cen- 
tury, has long troubled historical critics. In 1863, when 

^ Estudos. Segunda Serie, pp. 217-218,^ 


the second edition of the poem appeared, it was signed 
Gonzaga, and later opinion tends to reinforce that claim. 
If the query as to authorship is a matter more for history 
than for literature, so too, one may believe, is the poem 
itself, which, in the figure of Fanfarrao Minezio tra- 
vesties the Governor Luis da Cunha Menezes.^" 

Like Gregorio de Mattos, the author of the Cartas is 
a spiteful scorpion. But he has a deeper knowledge of 
things/ and there is more humanity to- his bitterness. 
"Here the Europeans diverted themselves by going on 
the hunt for savages, as if hot on the chase of wild beasts 
through the thickets," he growls in one part. "There 
was one who gave his cubs, as their daily food, human 
flesh; wishing to excuse so grave a crime he alleged that 
these savages, though resembling us in outward appear- 
ance, were not like us in soul." He flays the loose man- 
ners of his day — thankless task of the eternal satirist! 
— that surrounded the petty, sensuous tyrant. There is, 
in his lines, the suggestion of reality, but it is a reality 
that the foreigner, and perhaps the Brazilian himself, 
must reconstruct with the aid of history, and this dimin- 
ishes the appeal of the verses. One need not have 
known Marilia to appreciate her lover's rhymes; the 
Cartas Chilenas, on the other hand, require a knowledge 
of Luiz de Menezes' epoch. 

The lesser poets of the era may be passed over with 
scant mention. Best of them all is Domingos Caldas 
Barbosa (1740— 1800) known to his New Arcadia as 
Lereno and author of an uneven collection marred by fre- 
quent improvisation. The prose of the century, inferior 

1'^ For Romero's strenuous attempt to prove the Cartas the work of 
Alvarenga Peixoto, see his Historia, Volume I, pages 207-211. 


to the verse, produced no figures that can claim space 
in so succinct an outline as this. 

On January 23, 1808, the regent Dom Joao fled from 
Napoleon to Brazil, thus making the colony the temporary 
seat of the Portuguese realm. The psychological effect 
of this upon the growing spirit of independence was tre- 
mendous; so great, indeed, was Dom Joao's influence 
upon the colony that he has been called the founder of 
the Brazilian nationality. The ports of the land, hith- 
erto restricted to vessels of the Portuguese monarchy, 
were thrown open to the world; the first newspapers ap- 
peared; Brazil, having tasted the power that was be- 
stowed by the mere temporary presence of the monarch 
upon its soil, could not well relinquish this supremacy 
after he departed in 1821. The era, moreover, was one 
of colonial revolt; between 18 10 and 1826 the Spanish 
dependencies of America rose against the motherland and 
achieved their own freedom; 1822 marks the establish- 
ment of the independent Brazilian monarchy. 

Now begins a literature that may be properly called 
national, though even yet it wavered between the mori- 
bund classicism and the nascent romanticism, even as the 
form of government remained monarchial on its slow 
and dubious way to republicanism. Arcadian imagery 
still held sway in poetry and there was a decline from 
the originality of the Mineira group. 

Souza Caldas (1762-18 14) and Sao Carlos (1763- 
1829) represent, together with Jose Eloy Ottoni ( 1764- 
1851), the religious strains of the Brazilian lyre. The 


first, influenced by Rousseau, is avowedly Christian in 
purpose but the inner struggle that produced his verses 
makes of him a significant figure in a generally sterile era, 
and his Ode ao homien selvagem contains lines of appeal 
to our own contemporary dubiety. Sao Carlos's mystic 
poem A Assiimpcdo da Santissima Virgem possesses, to- 
day, merely the importance of its nativistic naivete; for 
the third Canto, describing Paradise, he makes exten- 
sive use of the Brazilian flora. There is, too, a long de- 
scription of Rio de Janeiro which describes very little. 
Jose Eloy Ottoni, more estimable for his piety and his 
patriotism than for his poetry, translated the Book of 
Job as Souza Caldas did the Psalms, and with great suc- 

Though these religious poets are of secondary im- 
portance to letters, they provided one of the necessary in- 
gredients of the impending Romantic triumph; their 
Christian outlook, added tO; nationalism, tended to pro- 
duce, as Wolf has indicated, a genuinely Brazilian roman- 

Head and shoulders above these figures stands the 
patriarchal form of Jose Bonifacio de Andrade e Silva, 
(1763-1838) one of the most versatile and able men of 
his day. His scientific accomplishments have found ample 
chronicling in the proper places; quickly he won a repu- 
tation throughout Europe. "The name of Jose Boni- 
facio," wrote Varnhagen, "... is so interwoven with 
all that happened in the domains of politics, literature 
and the sciences that his life encompasses the history of a 
great period. . . ." His poems, in all truth but a small 
part of his labours, were published in 1825 under the Ar- 


cadian name of Americo Elysio. They are, like himself, 
a thing of violent passions. In Aos Bahianos he exclaims : 

Amei a liberdade e a independencia 
Da doce cara patria, a quem o Luso 
Opprimia sem do, com risa e mofa: 
Eis o meu crime todo! ^^ 

Yet this is but half the story, for the savant's political 
life traced a by no means unwavering line. Two years 
before the publication of his poems he who so much loved 
to command fell from power with the dissolution of the 
Constituinte and he reacted in characteristic violence. 
Brazilians no longer loved liberty: 

Mas de tudo acabou da patria gloria! 
Da liberdade o brado, que troava 
Pelo inteiro Brasil, hoje enmudece, 
Entre grilhoes e mortes. 

Sobre sus ruinas gemem, choram, 
Longe da patria os filhos foragidos: 
Accusa-os de traigao, porque o amavam, 
Servil infame bando.^- 

A number of other versifiers and prose writers are in- 
cluded by Brazilians in their accounts of the national 
letters; Romero, indeed, with a conception of literature 
more approaching that of sociology than of belles lettres, 
expatiates with untiring gusto upon the work of a formid- 

1^ I loved the liberty and independence of my dear sweet fatherland, 
which the Portuguese pitilessly oppressed with laughter and scorn. This 
is my sole crime ! 

12 The glory of the fatherland is wholly gone. The cry of liberty 
that once thundered through Brazil now is mute amidst chains and 
corpses. Over its ruins, far from their fatherland, weep its wandering 
sons. Because they loved it, they are accused of treason, by an infa- 
mous, truckling band. 


able succession of mediocrities. We have neither the 
space nor the patience for them here. 

It is during the early part of the period epitomized in 
this chapter that Brazilian literature, born of the Portu- 
guese, began to be drawn upon by the mother country. 
"In the last quarter of the eighteenth century," 
quotes Verissimo from Theophilo Braga's Filinto Elysio, 
"Portuguese poetry receives an impulse of renovation 
•from several Brazilian talents. . . . They call to mind 
the situation of Rome, when the literary talents of the 
Gauls, of Spain and of Northern Africa, enrich Latin 
literature with new creations." 

The period as a whole represents a decided step for- 
ward from the inchoate ramblings of the previous epoch. 
Yet, with few exceptions, it is of interest rather in retro- 
spection, viewed from our knowledge of the romantic 
movement up to which it was leading. 




New Currents in Brazilian Poetry — Gongalves de Magalhaes, 
Gongalves Dias, Alvarez de Azevedo, Castro Alves — Lesser Fi- 
gures — Beginnings of the Brazilian Novel — Manoel de Macedo, 
Jose de Alencar, Taunay and Others — The Theatre. 

THOUGH usually associated with French litera- 
ature, the Romanticism of the first half of the 
nineteenth century, like that later neo-romantic- 
ism which nurtured the Symbolist and the Decadent 
schools of the second half, came originally from Ger- 
many, and was in essence a philosophy of self-liberation.^ 
In Brazil it is thus In part applied suggestion rather than 
spontaneous creation. But national creative production 
thrives on cross-fertilization and self-made literatures are 

1 "True Romanticism," says Wolf, "is nothing other than the expres- 
sion of a nation's genius unrestrained by the trammels of convention." 
He would derive the name through the same reasoning that called the 
lingua romana rustica (country Roman speech) Romance, as in the 
phrase Romance Languages, in opposition to the learned Latin known 
as the sermo urbanus, or language of the city. Such liberation as Wolf 
points out, was the work of German criticism. "The Germans avenged 
themselves for the double servitude, political and literary, with which 
the French had so long oppressed them, by at last delivering the people 
from the pseudo-classic fetters." A service they performed a half-cen- 



as unthinkable as self-made men. There is marked differ- 
ence between mere imitation and subjection to valid in- 
fluence, and few literary phenomena in the history of the 
new-world literature, north or south of Panama, attest 
the truth of this better than Brazil's period of Romanti- 
cism; this is the richest — it not the most refined — of its 
intellectual epochs. Brazilian culture is thrown open to 
the currents of European thought, as its ports with the 
advent of Joao VI had been thrown open to European 
■ commerce, and receives from romanticism, in the words 
of Wolf, the ' 'ideal consecration" of its nativism. And 
herein, of course, lies the great distinction between the 
mere nativism which is so easily taken for a national 
note, and that nationalism which adds to the exaltation 
of the milieu the spiritual consciousness of unity and inde- 
pendence. A national literature, in the fuller sense, is 
now passible because it is the expression not solely of 
an aspiration but of partial accomplishment, with a his- 
toric background in fact. Poetry becomes more varied; 
the novel takes more definite form; genuine beginnings 

tury later, as we have suggested, bringing a new breath to the later 
pseudo-classicism of the Parnassians. The real contribution of the so- 
called Romantic movement, then, was one of release from academically- 
organized repression, — repression in form, in thought, in expression, 
which are but so many aspects of the genetic impulse, and not detach- 
able entities that may be re-arranged at will. The measure of literary 
repression may be taken as one of the measures of classicism; the meas- 
ure of release from that repression may be taken as one of the meas- 
ures of romanticism. To argue in favour of one or the other or to at- 
tempt to draw too definite a line between them is a futile implication 
of the possibility of uniformity and, moreover, is to shift the criteria of 
art from an esthetic to a moralistic basis. There are really as many 
"isms" as there are creative individuals; classic and romantic are as- 
pects of all creative endeavour rather than definite and opposing quali- 
ties. The observation which I translate herewith from Wolf relates Ro- 
manticism to its originally individualistic importance as applied to na- 
tions. "The accessory ideas that have been grafted upon that of Roman- 


are made in the theatre, though, despite valiant attempts 
to prove the contrary, the Brazilian stage is the least of 
its glories. 

Carvalho, selecting the four representative poets of 
the period, has characterized each by the trait most 
prominent in his work. Thus Gongalves de Magalhaes 
(1811— 1882) stands for the religious phase of Brazilian 
romanticism; Gonqalves Dias (i 823-1 864) f or the natur- 
istic; Alvarez de Azevedo (i 831-185 2) for the poetry 
of doubt, and Castro Alves (1847) ^^^ the muse of 
social reclamation, particularly the abolition of black 
slavery. This group is but a solo quartet in a veritable 
chorus of singers that provides a variegated setting. The 
individual songs resound now more clearly, like so many 
strains in the polyphonic hymn of national liberation. 
The salient four are by no means restricted to the style of 
verse indicated by their classification, but such a group- 
ing helps to emphasize the main currents of the new 


In 1832, when Magalhaes published his first collec- 
tion, Poesias, he was a conventional worshipper of the 

ticism as a result of its decadence," writes the German critic, "serve only 
to confuse the etymological and historical truth of this definition. It is for 
the same reasons that the art of the Middle Ages, proper to modern 
peoples and opposed to antiquity, has been named Romantic, or rather, 
Roman. In order to re-establish the continuity of their spontaneous de- 
velopment and to paralyze the modern influence of the humanists, the 
reformists, classicism and rationalism, these same peoples had to turn 
back and drink from the ever abundant springs of the Middle Ages, 
— a brilliant epoch of development which was more in conformity with 
their genius. This is another reason why the two terms Middle Ages 
and Romanticism have been confused. But as this poetry and art of 
the Middle Ages are bigoted, excessively idealistic, taking pleasure in 
mysticism and the fantastic, these diverse acceptations have been wrongly 


Portuguese classics. A visit to Europe in 1833 con- 
verted him thoroughly to French Romanticism and when, 
three years later, he issued the Suspiros poeticos e Sau- 
dades (Poetic Sighs and Longings), the very title pro- 
claimed the advent of a new orientation. His invoca- 
tion to the angel of poesy is in itself a miniature declar- 
ation of poetic independence: 

Ja nova Musa 
meu canto inspira; 
nao mais empunho 
profana lyra. 

Minha alma, imita 
a natureza; 
quern veneer pode 
sua belleza? 

De dia, de noite 
Louva o Senhor; 
Canta os prodigios 
Do Creador. ^ 

The chaste virgins of Greece, as he announces in the lines 
preceding this virtual, if distinctly minor ars poetica, 
have fascinated his childhood enough. Farewell Homer ; 
the poet will dream now of his native land and sigh, 
amid the cypress, a song made of his own griefs and long- 
given to romanticism. Taking the accessory for the central nucleus, 
modern romanticism has caricatured all this and discredited true roman- 
ticism, so that the name in the realms of art has been applied to every- 
thing that is subjective, arbitrary, nebulous, capricious and without fixed 

2 A new Muse now inspires my song. No more do I grasp the pagan 
lyre. My soul, imitate nature. Who can surpass her beauty? By day, 
by night, sing praises to the Lord; chant the wonders of the Creator. 


ings. Nature, fatherland and God guiding humanity are 
the trinity of his emblem. They are his constant thought 
at home and abroad. "Nothing for me," he exclaims in 
his Deos e o Homem, written in the Alps in 1834, "for 
my fatherland all." In these Suspiros form becomes 
fairly free, rhythm alters with change in the thought; it 
is difficult to point to anything in them that has not al- 
ready appeared in Brazilian poetry from the earliest 
days, but the same outward elements of religion, patriot- 
ism and subjectivity have been fused into a more personal, 
more appealing product. Os Mysterios, a funereal can- 
ticle in memory of his children, published in Paris in 
1858, is in eight cantos that sing the triumph of faith. 
As he wrote in his philosophical work issued in this same 
year, Factos de Espiritu Hiimano: "This world would 
be a horrible comedy, a causeless illusion, and human 
existence a jest perpetrated by nothingness, — all would 
be but a lie, if there were not a just and kind God! . . . 
That which is absurd cannot be true. God exists and the 
human spirit is immortal in that knowledge." There is 
the kernel of his poetry. Urania, Vienna 1862, chants 
love through the symbol of his wife. The epic attempt, 
A Confederacao dos Tamoyos, in ten cantos, is note- 
worthy not so much for lofty flights as for its evidence of 
the author's blending of the patriotic and the religious 
motives. The attitude toward the Jesuit missionaries 
is the opposite to the stand taken by Basilio da Gama in 
the Uruguay; they alone among the Portuguese are 
worthy; the Indians yield at last to civilization, but they 
are idealized into defenders of justice against the Portu- 
guese exploiters. 


In his epic he underwent the influence of Concalves 
Dias, as did Manoel de Araujo Porto- Alegre (1806- 
1879) in his Brazilianas (1863). This noted painter 
was also affected by the free metrical structure of the 
Suspiros of Magalhaes, as he revealed in A voz da 
Natureza of 1835. The boresome epic Colombo, 
seeking inspiration in the great discoverer, is com- 
mendable for imagination rather than truly creative 

Goncalves Dias is more lyrical in spirit than Magal- 
haes, who was rather the meditative worshipper. The 
poet of nature was the first to reveal to Brazilians in its 
full significance the pride of nationaHty, to such an extent, 
indeed, that his "Americanism" became a blind hostility 
toward Europe as being only a source of evil to the 
new continent. In him flowed the blood of all three 
races that make up the Brazilian blend and he has cele- 
brated each of the strains, — the Indian in Os Tymbiras, 
Poema Americano, the African in A Escrava, the Portu- 
guese in the Sextilhas de Frei Antdo. To this blend 
Carvalho, not without justice, attributes the inner turmoil 
of the poet's soul. He is religious in his patriotism, just 
as Magalhaes is patriotic in his religion, but if his aver- 
sion to Europe is unreasoning, his patriotism is not a 
blind flag-waving: 

A patria e onde quer a vida temos 

Sem penar e sem dor; 
Onde rostos amigos nos rodeam, 

Onde temos amor; 

Onde vozes amigas nos consolam, 
Na nossa desventura, 


Onde alguns olhos chorarao doridos 
Na erma sepultura.^ 

It is with the name of Gongalves Dias that "Indiah- 
ism" in Brazilian poetry is most closely associated. As 
we have already seen, Verissimo indicates an important 
difference between this "second" type and the first that 
appeared in the epics of the Mineira poets. The native 
was exalted not so much for his own sake as by intense re- 
action against the former oppressors of the nation. As 
early as the date of Brazil's declaration of Independence 
(September 7, 1822), numerous families had foresworn 
their Portuguese patronymics and adopted indigenous 
names; idealization in actual life could not go much 
farther. In literature such Indianism, as in the case of 
Gongalves Dias, could serve the purpose of providing a 
highly colourful background for the poetic exploitation of 
the native scene, 

Verissimo would call Gongalves Dias the greatest 
Brazilian poet, though the noted critic discovers more 
genius in Basilio da Gama and In Alvares de Azevedo and 
even Laurindo Rabello, — more philosophical emotion in 
Junqueira Frelre. And before the national criticism had 
awarded Gonqalves Dias that place of honour, the people 
had granted it. "The history of our Romanticism will 
recognize that the strength of this spiritual movement 
came not alone from the talent of Its chief authors, but 
from their communion with the milieu, from the sympathy 
which they found there. Our literature was then for the 

2 Our fatherland is wherever we live a life free of pain and grief; 
where friendly faces surround us, where we have love; where friendly 
voices console us in our misfortune and where a few eyes will weep 
their sorrow over our solitary grave. 


first time, and perhaps the last, social." Goncalves Dias, 
in his Cancclo de E.xilio, captured the soul of his people 
with a simple lyrism that the slightest exaggeration might 
have betrayed into sentimental doggerel. 

Minha terra tern palmeiras, 
Onde canta o sabia; 
As aves que aqui gorgeam, 
Nao gorgeiao como la. * 

These stanzas, set to music, became the property of the 
nation. "If, like the Hebrews, we were to lose our 
fatherland, our song of exile would be already to hand in 
the Cancao of Goncalves Dias. With it he reached and 
conquered the people and our women, who are — in all 
respects — the chief element in the fame and success of 
poets. And not only the people, but Brazilian literature 
and poetry. Since that time the poet is rare who does 
not sing his land. 

" 'All chant their fatherland,' runs a verse by Casimiro 
de Abreu, whose nostalgia proceeds directly from the 
Cancao of Goncalves Dias. Nor does he hide this, call- 
ing part of his verses, Cancoes do Exilio. And to the 
name of Casimiro de Abreu we can add, following in the 
wake of the poet of Maranhao, Magalhaes, Porto Al- 
egre, Alvares de Azevedo, Laurindo Rabello, Junqueira 
Freire and almost all his contemporaries. In all you 
will find that song, expressed as conscious or disguised 
imitation. Dominated by the emotion of the Song of 
Exile, Brazil made of Goncalves Dias her favorite poet, 

^ My land has graceful palm-trees, where sings the sabid. The birds 
that warble here (i. e., in Portugal, where he wrote the poem) don't war- 
ble as ours over there. 


the elect of her feeHngs. The nativist instinct, so char- 
acteristic of peoples in their infancy, found also a sympa- 
thetic echo in his Poesias Americanas, and received as a 
generous reparation the idealization of our primitive in- 
habitants and their deeds, without inquiring into what 
there was in common between them and us, into the fidel- 
ity of those pictures and how far they served the cause of 
a Brazilian literature. His lyrism, of an intensity which 
then could be compared in our language only to that of 
Garrett,^ whose influence is evident in it, found similarly 
a response in the national feeling." 

Verissimo, somewhat sceptical in the matter of love as 
experienced by poets, does not even care whether love 
in Goncalves Dias was imaginary or real. He counts 
it the distinguishing trait of the poet that his love poems 
move the reader with the very breath of authenticity. 
"I find in them the external theme translated into other 
words, into another form, perhaps another manner, but 
with the same lofty generality with which it was sung 
by the truly great, the human poets. In him love is not 
the sensual, carnal, morbid desire of Alvares de Azevedo; 
the wish for caresses, the yearning for pleasure character- 
istic of Casimiro de Abreu, or the amorous, impotent 
fury of Junqueira Freire. It it the great powerful feeling 
purified by idealization, — the love that all men feel, — 
not the individual passion, the personal, limited case." 

I am not so inclined as Verissimo to accept at full value 
the statements of poets like Goncalves Dias that they 
have never felt love. It is rather that they have never 

5 The critic here refers to Joao Baptlsta da Silva Leitao Almeida 
Garrett (1799-1854) who together with Alexandre Herculano (1810- 
1877) dominated the Portuguese Romantic epoch. 


found it as they have visloned it. Indeed, this is just 
what Goncalves Dias himself has written: 

O amor que eu tanto amava de imo peito 
Que nunca pude achar. 

The love that so much I loved in my 

innermost heart, 
And that never I could find. 

The poet who wrote the lines that follow, with their 

Isso e amor e desse amor se morre 
This is love, the love of which one dies 

must have been something more than the man 
gifted with divination that Verissimo would make of 
him. I would hazard the guess that Verissimo's deduc- 
tions are based on a certain personal passionlessness of 
the critic himself, whose writings reveal just such an 
idealizer of love as he would find in Gongalves Dias. 

Amor e vida; e ter constantemente 

Alma, sentidos, coragao — abertos 

Ao grande, ao hello; e ser capaz de extremes, 

D'altas virtudes, ate capaz de crimes; 

Comprehender o infinito, a immensidade, 

E a natureza e Deus, gostar des campos; 

D'aves, flores, murmurios solitaries; 

Buscar tristeza, a soledade, o ermo, 

E ter o coraqao em riso e festa; 

E a branda festa, ao riso da nossa alma 

Pontes de pranto intercalar sem custo; 

Conhecer o prazer e a desventura 

No mesmo tempo e ser no mesmo ponto 

O ditoso, o miserrimo dos entes: 


Isso e amor e desse amor se morre! 

Amar, e nao saber, nao ter coragem 

Para dizer o amor que em nos sentimos; 

Temer que olhos profanos nos devassem 

O templo, onde a melhor porgao da vida 

Se concentra ; onde avaros recatamos 

Essa fonte de amor, esses thesouros 

Inesgotaveis, de illusoes floridas; 

Sentir, sem que se veja, a quern se adora, 

Comprehender, sem Ihe ouvir, seus pensamentos, 

Seguil-a, sem poder fitar seus olhos, 

Amal-a, sem ousar dizer que amamos, 

E, temendo rogar os seus vestidos, 

Arder por afogal-a em mil abragos: 

Isso e amor e desse amor se morre ! ^ 

Yet from 'Goncalves DIas to the refined, clamant volup- 
tuousness of Olavo Bilac is a far cry. The reason for the 
difference is to be sought rather in personal constitution 
than In poetic creed. Even the Romantics differ 
markedly from one another, and though the Brazilian 

^ Love is life; it is to hold one's soul, one's senses, one's heart, open 
ever to the great, the beautiful; to be capable of extremes, of lofty virtues 
and lowest crimes; to understand the infinite, the vastness. Nature and 
God, to enjoy the fields; the birds, the flowers, solitary murmurs; to 
seek sadness, solitude, the desert, to fill the heart with laughter and 
festivity; and to inundate the smiling fete, the laughter of our soul, with 
fountains of tears; to know pleasure and misfortune at the same time 
and to be at once the happiest and the most wretched of mortals: This 
is love, the love of which one dies. To love, and not know, not possess 
the courage to speak the love we feel within us; to fear lest profane 
eyes cast their defiling glance into the temple where is concentrated the 
best portion of our lives; where like misers we conceal this fountain of 
love, these inexhaustible treasures of flourishing illusions; to feel the 
presence of the adored one, though she be not seen, to understand, with- 
out hearing her speak, her thoughts; to follow her, without being able 
to gaze into her eyes; to love her without being able to say that we 
love. And, fearing to brush her garments, to burn to stifle her in a 
thousand embraces. This is love, the love of which one dies! 


muse is an ardent lady (a truth which, as we shall see, 
rendered anything like a genuine Parnassianism fairly 
impossible in Brazil) Goncalves Dias is after all re- 
strained in his expression of a passion which clearly he 
felt. The passage just quoted, with all deference to 
Verissimo, is not great poetry, and precisely because it 
is too general. It is statement, not the unfolding of 
passion in a form spontaneously created. It proves 
that ^Gongalves Dias loved, — one woman or many, — but 
it reveals rather a certain incapacity to generalize than 
a faculty for transposing the particular into the univer- 

Alvares de Azevedo is the standard-bearer of the 
Brazilian Byronists, but he should not be classed off- 
hand as a mere echoer of the Englishman's strophes. 
His Lira dos Veinte Annos is exactly what the title an- 
nounces; the lyre of a twenty-year-old, which, though 
its strings give forth romantic strains of bitterness and 
melancholy and imagination that have become associated 
with Byron, Musset and Leopardi, sounds an individual 
note as well. The poet died in his twenty-first year; it 
was a death that he foresaw and that naturally coloured 
his verses. "Eat, drink and love; what can the rest 
avail us?" was the epigraph he took from Byron for his 
Vagahundo. His brief, hectic career had no time for 
meticulous polishing of lines; if the statue did not come 
out as at first he desired, he broke it rather than recast 
the metal. Not a little of his proclamative rhyming is 
the swagger of his youth, which is capable, at times, of 
giving to a poem so banal a quadruplicative title as " 'Tis 
she ! " 'Tis she ! 'Tis she ! 'Tis she !" With the frus- 
trated ambitions of weakness he longed for illimitable 


power. In the 12 de Setemhro (his birthday) he ex- 
claims : 

Fora bello talvez sentir no craneo 
A alma de Goethe, e reunir na fibra 

Byron, Homero e Dante; 
Sonhar-se n'um delirio momentaneo 
A alma da creagao, e som que vibra 

A terra palpitante. '' 

Like the hero of Aucassin et Nicolette, he prefers hell to 
heaven for a dwelling-place. 

No inferno estao suavissimas bellezas, 
Cleopatras, Helenas, Eleonoras; 
La se namora em boa companhia, 
Nac pode haver inferno com Senhoras ! ^ 

he declares in O Poeta Moribimdo. 

He is Brazil's sick child par excellence, ill, like so 
many after him, with the malady of the century. But 
one must guard against attributing this to the morbid 
pose that comes so easy at twenty. Pose there was, and 
flaunting satanism, but too many of these poets in Brazil, 
and in the various republics of Spanish-America died 
young for one to doubt their sincerity altogether. The 
mood is a common one to youth ; in an age that, like the 
romantic, made a literary fashion of their weakness, they 
were bound to appear as they appeared once again when 

'■ It were beautiful to feel in one's brain the soul of Goethe, and to 
unite in his body Byron, Homer and Dante. To dream in the 
delirium of a moment that one is the soul of creation and the sound 
sent forth by the palpitant earth. 

8 Hell contains exquisite beauties, Cleopatras, Helenas, Eleonoras; there 
is where one falls in love in good company. There can't be a hell 
with ladies around! 


Symbolism and the Decadents vanquished for a time the 
cold formalism of the Parnassian school. 

That Alvares de Azevedo, for all his millennial doubts 
and despairs was a child, is attested by the following pe- 
destrian quatrain from the poem of the quadruplicative 
title : 

Mas se Werther morreu por ver Carlotta 
Dando pao com manteiga as criancinhas, 
Se achou-a assim mais bella, — eu mais te adoro 
Sonhando-te a lavar as camisinhas ! ^ 

Thackeray's famous parody seems here itself to be 
parodied. Alvares de Azevedo's love, if Verissimo was 
right, was "um amor de cabega," — of the head rather 
than the heart, a poet's love, the "love of love," without 
objective reality. . . . "It is rather a desire to love, the 
aspiration for a woman ideally beloved, than a true, per- 
sonal passion. What does it matter, however, if he give 
us poems such as Anima mea, Vida, Esperancas, and all, 
almost all, that he left us?" 

The boy-poet is still an appreciable influence in the 
national letters, as well he might be among a people in- 
clined to moodiness; for many years he was one of the 
most widely read poets of the country, in company of his 
fellow-romantics, Goncalves Dias and Castro Alves. 
Among his followers are Laurindo Rabello (1826- 
1864), Junqueira Freire (1832-1855) and Casimiro 
de Abreu (i 837-1 860), — not a long lived generation. 
Rabello was a vagrant soul whose verses are saved by 
evident sincerity. "I am not a poet, fellow mortals," he 

9 But if Werther longed to see Carlotta giving bread and butter to 
the children and found her thus more beautiful than ever, I adore you 
sll the more when I vision you doing the laundry. 


sings, "and I know it well. My verses, inspired by grief 
alone, are not verses, but rather the cries of woe exhaled 
at times involuntarily by my soul." He is known chiefly 
as a repentista (improvisator) and himself spread the 
popularity of his verses by singing them to his own ac- 
companiment upon the violin. He tried to improvise 
life as well as verses, for he drifted from the cloister to 
the army, from the army to medicine, with a seeming 
congenital inability to concentrate. Misfortune tracked 
his steps, and, as he has told us, wrung his songs from 
him. Verissimo calls him one of the last troubadours, 
wandering from city to city singing his sad verses and 
forcing the laugh that must entertain his varying audi- 
ences. The popular mind so confused him with the 
■Portuguese Bocage that, according to the same critic, 
some of Bocage's verses have been attributed to the 

"My pleasures," he sings in his autobiographical poem 
Minha Vida (My Life) "are a banquet of tears! A 
thousand times you must have seen me, happy amidst the 
happy, chatting, telling funny stories, laughing and caus- 
ing laughter. Life's a drama, eh?" He is, indeed, as 
his lines reveal, a Brazilian PagUacdo : 

Porque julgar-se do semblante, — 

Do semblante, essa mascara de carne 

Que o homem recebeu pr'a entrar no mundo, 

O que por dentro vai? E quasi sempre, 

Si ha estio no rosto, inverno na alma. 

Confesso-me ante vos; ouvi, contentes! 

O meu riso e fingido; sim, mil vezes 

Com elle afogo os ecos de un gemido 

Que imprevisto me chega a flor ^gs labi'os; 


Mil vezes sobre as cordas afinadas 
'Que tanjo, o canto meu accompanhando 
Cahe pranto. 

Eu me finjo ante vos, que o fingimento 
E no lar do prazer prudenia ao triste.^" 

Junqueira Freire is of firmer stuff, though tossed about 
by inner and external vicissitudes that are mirrored In 
the changing facets of his verse. 

He, too, sought — with as little fundamental sincerity 
• as Laurlndo Rabello — solace In the monastery, which he 
entered at the unmonastic age of twenty as the result of 
being crossed In love. Of course he thought first of 
suicide, but "the cell of a monk is also a grave," — and a 
grave, moreover, whence the volatile soul of youth may 
rise In carnal resurrection. Junqueira Freire was the 
most bookish of children. He read his way through the 
Scriptures, Horace, Lucretius, Ovid (an unbibllcal trio!) 
and Imbibed modern currents through Milton, Klop- 
stock, De Malstre, Herculano, Garrett, Tsmartlne, Hugo. 
His prose critiques are really remarkable in so young a 
person, and one sentence upon philosophy is wiser by far 
than many a tome penned by the erudite. Philosophy he 
found to be a "vain poetry, not of description but of 
raclotlnation, nothing true, everything beautiful; rather 
art than science; rather a cupola than a foundation." 
Such a view of philosophy Is of course not new, though it 

1*^ Why judge from the face — the face, — that mask of flesh which 
man received on entering the world, — that which goes on within? Al- 
most always if it is summer on one's face, it is winter in the soul. I 
confess before you; hear, contented ones! My laughter is feigned; yes, 
a thousand times I stifle with it the echoes of a groan that of a sudden 
rises to my lips; a thousand times upon the tempered strings I play, in 
accompaniment to my song fall tears. I pretend before you, for in the 
house of mirth pretence is the sad man's prudence. 


is none too current. It is brilliant for a mere youth 
of Romanticist Brazil — an intuitive forecast, as it were, 
of Croce's philosophy of the intuition. 

Soon weary of the cloister walls, our poet sang his dis- 
illusionment in lines that turn blasphemous, even as the 
mother in Meu filho no claustro curses the God that 
"tore from my arms my favorite son. . . ." "We all 
illude ourselves !" he cries elsewhere. "|We conceive an 
enternal paradise and when greedily we reach after it, 
we find an inferno." 

He is, as an artist, distinctly secondary. He is more 
the poet in his prose than in his poems, and I am inclined 
to think that his real personality resides there. 

Casimiro de Abreu, in Carvalho's words, "is the most 
exquisite singer of saiidades in the older Brazilian 
poetry; ^^ his work is a cry of love for all that lay far 
away from him, his country and his family, whom he left 
when but a child. 

Meu Deus, eu sinto e tu bem ves que eu morro 

Respirando este ar; 
Faz que eu viva, Senhor! da-me de novo 

Os gozos de meu lar! 

Quero dormir a sombra dos coqueiros, 

As folhas por docel: 
E ver se apanho a borboleta branca 

Que voa no vergel ! 

Quero sentar-me a beira do riacho 
Das tardes ao cahir, 

11 The same poet, in Verissimo's words, is the singer of "love and 
saudade. These two feelings are the soul of his poetry." Estudos, II, 47. 


E sosinho scismando no crepusculo 
Os sonhos de porvir! 

Da-me os sitios gentis onde eu brincava, 

La na quadra infantil; 
Da que eu veja uma vez o ceu da patria 

O ceu do meu Brazil! 

Minha campa sera entre as mangueiras 

Banhada ao luar, 
Eu contente dormirei tranquillo 

A sombra do meu lar! 

As cachoeiras chorarao sentidas 

Porque cedo morri, 
E eu sonho ne sepulcro os meus amores, 

Na terra onde nasci ! ^^ 

In his study of Casimiro de Abreu Verissimo has some 
illuminating things to say of love and wistful longing 
{amor e saudade) in connection with the poet's patriot- 
Ism In especial and with love of country in general. "It 
is under the influence of nostalgia and love, for both in 
him are really an ailment — that he begins to sing of 
Brazil. But the Brazil that he sings In such deeply felt 
verses, the Patria that he weeps ... Is the land In 

12 Oh, Lord, I feel and well you see that I am dying as I breathe this 
air; let me live, O Lord, let me feel, once again the joys of my native 
hearth. I would sleep in the shade of the cocoa-trees with their leaves 
as my canopy; and see whether I could catch the white butterfly that 
flies in the orchard. I want to sit beside the little stream at the fall of 
dusk, alone in the twilight filled with dreams of the future. Give me the 
sweet spots where I romped with the other children, let me see once 
again the sky of my fatherland, the skies of my Brazil. My grave will 
be among the mango-trees, bathed in the light of the moon. And there 
I shall sleep contentedly in the shadow of my hearth. The waterfalls 
will weep in deep-felt grief because I died so soon, while I in my sepul- 
chre shall dream of my loves, in the land where I was born. 


which were left the things he loves and chiefly that un- 
known girl to whom he dedicated his book. The long- 
ing for his country, together with the charms that this 
yearning increased or created, is what made him a pa- 
triot, if, with this restriction may be applied to him an 
epithet that from my pen is not a token of praise. His 
nostalgia is above all the work of love, — not only the 
beloved woman, but all that this loving nature loved, — 
the native soil, the paternal house, country life. . . . 
Without these two feelings, love and longing, the love of 
country is anti-esthetic. If Os Liisiados, with the intense 
patriotism that overflows it, is the great poem it is, it 
owes this greatness to them alone. It is love and long- 
ing, the anxious nostalgia of the absent poet and the deep 
grief of a high passion that impart to it its most pa- 
thetic accents, its most lyric notes, its most human emo- 
tions, such as the speeches of Venus and Jupiter, the sub- 
lime episode of D. Ignes de Castro, that of Adamastor, 
the Isle of Love. . . ." ^^ 

13 With respect to a related subject Verissimo has uttered words quite 
as wise, in harmony with the esthetic view of nationalism. 

"In no other Brazilian poets do I find, together with a banal facility 
in versification, the eminent qualities of poetry. . . . Another salient 
quality of these poets (that is, of those whom Verissimo groups into 
the second Romantic generation, including Gongalves Dias, Alvares de 
Azevedo, Casimiro de Abreu, Junqueiro Freire, Laurindo Rabello)^ is 
their nationalism. Not that factitious nationalism of duty or erudition, 
in which intention and process are clearly discernible, but the expression 
— ^unconscious, so to say — of the national soul itself, in its feeling, its man- 
ner of speech, its still rudimentary thought. They are not national be- 
cause they speak of bores, tacapes or inubias, or sing the savages that 
rove these lands. With the exception of Gonqalves Dias, none of them 
is even 'Indianist.' Casimiro de Abreu, upon whom Gongalves Dias 
made so great an impression, whose nostalgia derives largely from the 
Caned do Exilio (Song of Exile) no longer sings the Indian. Neither 
do Alvares de Azevedo, Laurindo or the others." Estudos, II, Pages 


In Fagundes Varella (i 841-1875) we have a disputed 
figure of the Romantic period. Verissimo denies him 
originality except in the Cantico de Calvario, "where 
paternal love found the most eloquent, most moving, 
most potent representation that we have ever read in 
any language," while Carvalho, championing his cause, 
yet discovers in him a mixture of Alvares de Azevedo's 
Byronic satanism, Goncalves Dias's Indianism and the 
condoreirismo of Castro Alves and Tobias Barreto. He 
• is a lyrist of popular inspiration and appeal, and "one of 
our best descriptive poets. . . ." V^arella, then, to- 
gether with Machado de Assis and Luis Guimaraes 
Junior, is a transitional figure between Romanticism and 

The influence of Victor Hugo's Les Chatiments was 
great throughout South America and in Brazil brought 
fruit chiefly in Tobias Barreto and Castro Alves, the 
salient representatives of the so-called condoreirismo ; 
like the condor their language flew to grandiloquent 
heights, whence the name, for which in English we have 
a somewhat less flattering counterpart in the adjective 
"spread-eagle." Barreto (1839-1889) belongs rather 
to the history of Brazilian culture; he was largely re- 
sponsible for the introduction of modern German thought 
and exerted a deep influence upon Sylvio Romero. Alves 
was less educated — his whole life covers but a span of 
twenty-four years — but what he lacked in learning he 
made up in sensitivity and imagination. Though he 
can be tender with the yearnings of a sad youth, he be- 
comes a pillar of fire when he is inspired by the cause 
of abolition. 

Romero, with his customary appetite for a fight, has. 


despite his denials of preoccupation with mere questions 
of priority, given himself no little trouble to prove 
Barreto's precedence in the founding of the condoreiro 
school; ^^ we shall leave that matter to the historians. 
Brazilians themselves, as far as concerns the esthetic ele- 
ment involved, have made a choice of Alves. He is one 
of the national poets. His chief works are three in 
number: Espumas Fluctuantes, Gonzaga (a play) and 
O Poema dos Escravos (unfinished). Issued separately, 
the Poem of the Slaves, is not, as its title would imply, 
a single hymn to the subjected race; it is a collection of 
poems centering around the theme of servitude. He 
does not dwell upon the details of that subjection; he is, 
fundamentally, the orator. The abolition of slavery did 
not come until 1888; on September 28, 1871, all persons 
born in Brazil were declared free by law; it was such 
poems as Alves's Vozes d' Africa and O Navio Negreiro 
that prepared the way for legislation which, for that 
matter, economic change was already fast rendering in- 
evitable. ^^ 


The Brazilian novel is a product of the Romantic 
movement. Such precursors as Teixeira e Souza 
(1812— 1861) and Joaquim Noberto de Souza Silva 
( 1 820-1 891) belong rather to the leisurely investigator 
of origins. The real beginnings are to be appreciated 
in the work of Joaquim Manoel de Macedo (i 820-1 822) 
and Jose de Alencar (i 829-1 877). 

Macedo portrayed the frivolous society of the epoch 

1* See Historia da Litterature Brasileira Vol. II, pages 476-601. 

15 See, in Part Two of this book, the chapter devoted to Castro Alves. 


of Dom Pedro II. He was not so much a leader of taste 
as a skilful exploiter of It. He has been called "par ex- 
cellence the novelist of the Brazilian woman"; we need 
look to him, then, for little In the way of frankness or 
psychological depth. To the reader of today, who has 
been tossed high In the waters of the contemporary novel, 
Macedo and his ilk are tame, naive, a mite Insipid. 
Not that some of his pages lack a certain piquancy in 
their very simplicity. His Rachel, for example, in O 
Moco Loiiro {The Blond Young Man) can talk like 
a flapper who has been reading Bernard Shaw, but we 
know that love Is to teach her better In the end. Ma- 
cedo was a writer for the family hearth; his language, 
like his Ideas, Is simple. But our complex civilization 
has already outdistanced him; it is not at all impossible 
that in a short while he will join the other precursors and, 
with the exception of his books Moreninha ( The Bru- 
nette) and O Moqo Louro, be but a name to his country- 
men and even his countrywomen. The first, published In 
1849, rnade his reputation; it Is a tale of the triumph of 
pure love. The second is after The Brunette, his best- 
known novel, narrating the hardly original tale of the 
virginal, dreamy Honorina and the free, mocking Rachel 
who love the same youth; Honorina's true love, as we 
might expect, wins out, for Rachel sacrifices her passion 
without letting the happy pair realize the extent of her 

"By no means should I say that he possesses the power 
of idealization of Jose de Alencar, the somewhat pre- 
cieiise quality of Taunay or the smiling, bitter pessimism 
of Machado de Assis; if we wish to judge him in compar- 
ison with them or with the writers of today, his work 


pales; his modest creations disappear into an inferior 
category. But accepting him in the time for which he 
wrote, when the novel had not yet received the Flauber- 
tian esthetics that ennobled it and had not been enriched 
by the realistic genius of Zola, — beside his contempor- 
aries Teixeria de Souza, Manoel de Almeida and Ber- 
nardo Guimaraes, he seems to us living, picturesque, 
colorful, as indeed he is. I esteem him because he has 
contributed to the development and the wealth of our 
literature." ^° 

More important to the history and practice of the 
Brazilian novel is Jose de Alencar, famous for his Guar- 
any and Iracema, the first of which, in the form of an 
opera libretto set to music by the native composer Carlos 
'Gomes, has made the rounds of the operatic world. 
Alencar is to the novel what Gongalves Dias is to the 
poem: the typical Indianist. But Brazilians find his 
Indianism superior to that of the poet in both sincerity 
and majesty. "His Indians do not express themselves 
like doctors from Coimbra; they speak as Nature has 
taught them, loving, living and dying like the lesser plants 
and animals of the earth. Their passions are as sudden 
and as violent as the tempest, — rapid conflagrations that 
burst forth for an instant, flaring, glaring and soon dis- 
appearing." ^^ 

At his best Alencar is really a poet w^ho has chosen 
prose as his medium. He uses the Indian milieu, as 
Gongalves Dias in his poetry, for the descriptive oppor- 
tunities it affords. Brazilians rarely speak of his plots, 

iG Benedicto, Costa, Le Roman au Bresil. P. 70. 

1^ Carvalho, Op. Cit. P. 263. Yet many will refuse to believe that 
Alencar's Indians are natural. Indeed, Alencar himself has repudiated 
any realistic intention. 


which are simplicity itself; what fascinates them, even 
today, is his rich palette, which challenges comparison 
even with the opulent coloration of Coelho Netto and 
Graga Aranha. Chief among foreign Influences were 
the Frenchmen Chateaubriand, de Vigny, Balzac, Dumas, 
Hugo. Our own Cooper, himself an "Indianist" con- 
temporaneous with Alencar, influenced the Brazilian in- 
novator, but not in the manner that Brazilian critics have 
seemed to discern. Alencar himself, in a rare document, 
has sought to refute those who find his Guarany a novel 
in Cooper's style. To him Cooper was, first of all, the 
"poet of the sea." As far as concerned American 
poetry, Alencar's model (and model is his own word) 
was Chateaubriand. "But my master was that glorious 
Nature which surrounds me, and in particular the mag- 
nificence of the deserts which I studied in early youth 
and which were the majestic portals through which I 
penetrated into m.y country's past. ... It was from 
this source, from this vast, secular book that I drew the 
pages of Guarany and Iracema and many another. . , . 
From this source, and not from the works of Chateau- 
briand, still less from those of Cooper, which were only 
a copy of the sublime original that I had read within my 

"Brazil, like the United States and most other coun- 
tries of America, has a period of conquest in which the 
invading race destroys the indigenous. This struggle 
presents analogous characters because of the similarity of 
the native tribes. Only in Peru and Mexico do they 

"Thus the Brazilian novelist who seeks the plot of his 
novel in this period of invasion cannot escape a point of 


contact with the American writer. But this approxima- 
tion comes from history; it is inevitable and not the re- 
sult of imitation. 

"If neither Chateaubriand nor Cooper had existed, the 
American novel would have appeared in Brazil in due 

"Years after having written Guarany" ( Alencar wrote 
the book in his twenty-seventh year, and would have it 
that the tale occurred to him in his ninth year, as he 
was crossing the sertoes of the North on the road from 
Ceara to Bahia)." I re-read Cooper in order to verify 
the observation of the critics, and I was convinced that it 
is of minor importance. There is not in the Brazilian 
novel a single personage whose type may be traced to 
the Last of the Mohicans, The Spy, Ontario, The Sap- 
pers and Lionel Lincoln. . . . Cooper considers the na- 
tive from the social point of view and was, in the de- 
scription of indigenous customs, a realist. ... In Guar- 
any the savage is an ideal, which the writer tried to poet- 
ize, divesting him of the coarse incrustation in which he 
was swathed by the chroniclers, and rescuing him from 
the ridicule that the stultified remnants cast upon the. al- 
most extinct race. 

"But Cooper, say the critics, describes American na- 
ture. And what was he to describe if not the scene of 
his drama? Walter Scott before him had provided the 
model for these pen landscapes that form part of local 

"What should be investigated is whether the descrip- 
tions of Guarany show any relationship or afiinity to 
Cooper's descriptions; but this is what the critics fail to 
do, for it means work and requires thought. In the 


meantime the comparison serves to show that they re- 
semble each other neither in genre nor style." ^^ 

The Brazilian novelist, presenting thus his own case, 
hits precisely upon those two qualities — sea lore and 
realism — for which Cooper only yesterday, fifty years 
after Alencar wrote this piece of auto-criticism, was re- 
discovered to United States readers by Professor Carl 
Van Doren. "Not only did he outdo Scott in sheer 
accuracy," writes the critic of the United States novel, 
"'but he created a new literary type, the tale of adven- 
ture on the sea, in which, though he was to have many 
followers in almost every modern language, he has not 
been surpassed for vigour and swift rush of narra- 

Alencar is no realist nor is he concerned with sheer 
accuracy. Guaranyj the one book by which he is sure to 
be remembered for many a year, is, as we have seen, a 
prose poem in which the love of the Indian prince Pery 
for the white Cecy, daughter of a Portuguese noble, is 
unfolded against a sumptuous tapestry of the national 
scene. Alencar wrote other novels, of the cities, but in 
Brazilian literature he is identified with his peculiar 
Indianism. From the stylistic standpoint he has been 
accused of bad writing; like so many of his predecessors 
— and followers — he plays occasional havoc with syn- 
tax, as if the wild regions he depicts demanded an analo- 
gous anarchy of language. Yet Costa, granting all this, 

18 From a document first published by the author's son, Dr. Mario 
de Alencar of the Brazilian Academy, in 1893, twenty years after it 
was written, under the title Como E Porque Sou Romancista (How And 
Why I Became a Novelist). I have translated these excerpts from the 
article as reprinted in Joao Ribeiro's Auctores Contemporaneos, 6a 
Edigao, Refundida, Rio de Janeiro, 1907. 

19 The American Novel, New York, 1921. 


adds that "before Jose de Alencar the Portuguese lan- 
guage as written in Brazil was, without exaggeration, a 
horrible affair. What man today possesses sufficient 
courage to brave with light heart that voliminous agglom- 
eration of verses in the Confederacdo dos Tamoyos, In 
Colo?nbo, m Caramiiru or Uruguay? In prose . . . 
but let us rather not speak of It. It Is enough to read 
the novels of Telxelra de Souza and Manoel de Al- 
meida." -^ This same style Is viewed by others as a 
herald of the nervous prose of another man of the ser- 
toes, Euclydes da Cunha, who has enshrined them In one 
of the central works of modern Brazil. 

Sertanismo Itself, however, was initiated by Bernardo 
Joaqulm da Silva Gulmaraes (1827— 1885) in such works 
as Pelo Sertao, Mauricio, Escrava Isaurd. He was 
followed in this employment of the sertao as material 
for fiction by Franklin Tavora (1842— 1888) and particu- 
larly Escragnole Taunay (1843— 1899), whose In- 
nocenc'm, according to Verlssimo, Is one of the country's 
few genuinely original novels. Merou, in 1900, called 
it "the best novel written in South America by a South 
American," — a compliment later paid by Guglielmo 
Ferrero to Graca Aranha's Chanaan. Viscount Taunay's 
famous work — one might call It one of the central pro- 
ductions of Brazilian fiction — Is but scant fare to 
the contemporary appetite In fiction, yet It has been 
twice translated Into French, and has been put Into 
English, Italian, German, Danish and even Japa- 
The scene Is laid In the deserted Matto Grosso, a favour- 

20 Op. Cit. Pp. 77-78. 


ite background of the author's. Innocencia, all that her 
name implies, dwells secluded with her father, a miner, 
her negress slave Conga and her Caliban-like dwarf Tico, 
who is in love with Innocencia, the Miranda of this dis- 
trict. Into her life comes the itinerant physician Cirino 
de Campos, who is called by her father to cure her of 
the fever. Cirino proves her Ferdinand; they make love 
in secret, for she is meant by paternal arrangement for a 
mere brute of a mule-driver, Manecao by name. Inno- 
cencia vows herself to Cirino, when the mule-driver comes 
to enforce his prior claim; the father, bound by his word 
of honour, sides with the primitive lover. Innocencia 
resists; Manecao avenges himself by killing the doctor. 
A comic figure of a German scientist adds humour and 
a certain poignant irony to the tale. 

Students of Spanish-American letters are acquainted 
with the Colombian novel Maria by the half-jew Jorge 
Isaacs; it has been termed a sister work to Innocencia 
and if it happens to be, as is my opinion, superior to the 
Brazilian, a comparison reveals complementary quali- 
ties in each. The Spanish-American work is rather an 
idyll, instinct with poetry; Innocencia, by no means de- 
void of poetry, is more melodramatic and of stouter tex- 
ture. Taunay, in Brazilian fiction, is noted for having 
introduced an element of moderation in passion and 
characterization, due perhaps to his French pro- 
venience. His widely-known account of an episode in 
the war with Paraguay was, indeed, first written in 

Manoel Antonio de Almeida (i 830-1 861) in his 
Memorias de urn Sargento ct^ Milicias had made a prema- 


ture attempt to introduce the realistic novel; his early 
death robbed the nation of a most promising figure. 


The theatrical literature of Brazil is poor; the origin 
of the modern drama is generally attributed to Magal- 
haes' tragedy upon Antonio Jose, 1838, and to the come- 
dies of Luis Carlos Martins Penna (18 15-1848). Of 
drama there is no lack; all that is needed is the drama- 
tist. Martins Penna stands out easily from the ruck 
for elementary realism, but he is almost alone. Even 
today, the plays of Claudio de Souza, for all their suc- 
cess upon the stage, cannot compare with the quality that 
may be encountered in contemporary poetry, novels and 

The Romantic period in Brazil is distinguished as 
much for activity as for actual accomplishment; histor- 
ically it is of prime importance in the national develop- 
ment, while esthetically it reveals a certain broadening 
of interests. The national writer, as a type, has attained 
his majority; he gazes upon broader horizons. Yet take 
away Guarany, Iracema, Innocencia, O Mogo Louro, 
Moreninha, and what, really, is left in prose? The 
poets fare better; they are nearer to the sentient heart of 
things. Yet implacable esthetic criteria would do away 
with much of their product as well. It is by such tokens 
as these that one may recognize the secondary impor- 
tance of the national letters, for, of course, Brazilian 
letters do not constitute a major literature. Here it is 
the salient individual that counts, and I, for one, am in- 
clined to think that in art such an individual, as bodied 


forth in his work, is the only thing that counts. The 
rest — genres, evolution, periods, — is important in the 
annals of national development; it is, however, sociology, 
history, what you will, but not the primary concern of 




French Background — ;Naturalists, Parnassilans, — Theophilo 
Dias, Raymundo Correia, Alberto de Oliveira, Olave Bilac — 
The Novel — Aluizio de Azevedo, Machado de Assis — The 
Decadents — Later Developments. 

THE later course of Brazilian letters follows prac- 
tically the same line traced by the reaction in 
France against the Romantic school. To and 
fro swings the pendulum of literary change in unceasing 
oscillation between dominance of the emotions and rule 
of the intellect. Life, as Havelock Ellis somewhere has 
shown, is an eternal process of "tumescence and detumes- 
cence"; the formula is quite true of literature. Buds 
and human beings alike swell to maturity in the womb of 
nature and then follows the inevitable contraction. So, 
in letters, the age of full expression is succeeded by one 
of repressed art, — the epoch of a blatant proclamative 
"ism" by an era of restraint and withdrawal. Who 
shall, in a priori fashion, pretend to say that this "ism" 
is right and that one wrong? By their works alone shall 
ye know them. 

If, then, Romanticism in France, as subsequently else- 
where, gave way to a rapid succession of inter-reacting 



schools or groups, the phenomenon was the familiar one 
of literary oscillation. The Naturalists, nurtured upon 
advancing science, looked with scorn upon the emotional 
extravagances of the Romantics. To excessive preoc- 
cupation with the ego and with unreality, they opposed 
the critical examination and documentation of reality. 
Milieu, social environment, psychology ceased to be ideal- 
ized; enthusiasm and exaltation were succeeded by cold 
scrutiny. The doctrine of "impersonality" (a most in- 
artistic and psychologically impossible creed) was crystal- 
lized around the powerful literary personality of Flau- 
bert, and Romantic egolatry looked as silly in the search- 
ing day of the new standards as last night's flowers with- 
out the breath of spring and the moonlight that excuse 
the sweet folly they incite. 

In poetry the Parnassians revolted against Romantic 
self-worship on the one hand and the realistic preoccupa- 
tion of the naturalists on the other. They, too, believed 
themselves impersonal, impassive — terms only relative 
in creative endeavour. They climbed up their ivory 
towers, away from vulgar mundanity, and substituted for 
the musical vagaries of their unrepressed predecessors 
the cult of the clear image and the sculptural line. And 
fast upon them followed the Symbolist-Decadents, — 
some of whom, indeed, were nourished upon the milk of 
Parnassianism, — and who, in their turn, abjured the 
modern classicism of the Parnassians with their cult of 
form and clarity, and set up instead a new musicality of 
method, a new intensity of personalism. Their ivory 
towers were just as high, but were reared on subtler 
fancies. Suggestion replaced precision; sculpture melted 
into music. In a word, already neo-classicism had swung 


to neo-romanticism ; the pendulum, on its everlasting 
swing, had covered the same distance in far faster time. 
Yet each seeming return to the old norms is a return 
with a difference; more and more the basic elements of 
the reaction are understood by the participants in their 
relations to society and to the individual. Especially is 
their psychological significance appreciated and — most 
important of all and most recent — their nature as comple- 
ments rather than as antagonists. When Dario, in a 
famous poem, asked "^Quien quieii es no es Romantico?" 
(Who that is, is not a Romantic?) he but stressed the 
individualism at the bottom of all art. Perhaps the days 
of well-defined "schools" in art are over; perhaps the 
days of the label in criticism are gone, or going fast, even 
in academic circles; all men contain the potentialities of 
all things and opposites grow out of opposites. Man is 
thus himself unity in variety, — the old shibboleth of the 
estheticists, — and the "schools" are but phases of the 
multiple personality. 

The reaction against Romanticism, if varied in France, 
was even less disciplined in Ibero-America. And here 
we come upon a curious fact in comparative literature that 
is deserving of investigation. In the first place, Parnas- 
sianism in Brazil (and in Spanish America, for that 
matter) was hardly ever the frigidly perfect thing it be- 
came in the hands of the Frenchman. A certain tropical 
warmth is bound, in the new-world poets, to glow in the 
marble veins of their sonnets. In the second, — and this 
is truly peculiar, — that Symbolism (especially In its De- 
cadent phase) which was responsible for a fundamental 
renovation of letters In Spanish America and later affected 
Spain itself, passed over Brazil with but scant influence. 


Brazil produced some highly interesting Parnassians 
(with proper reservations made in the use of that term) ; 
Bilac, in his realm, is the peer of any Spanish American. 
But the Portuguese-speaking republic shows no figure ap- 
proaching the epochal Ruben Dario, whose life and 
labours fairly sum up the modernist era in Spanish 


The scientific spirit in Brazilian poetry ^ns of short 
duration, even though Romero, one of its chief expo- 
nents, gives himself credit for having initiated in 1870 the 
reaction against Romanticism with a poetry that sought 
harmony with the realistic philosophy of the day. He 
and Martins Junior (whom Carvalho places at the head 
of the "scientific" poets) are today considered to have 
troubled the waters of Brazilian lyrism for but a pass- 
ing moment. In reality, they but hastened the ad- 
vent of Parnassianism. Brazil for a while was weary 
of the great Latin weakness, — eloquence. Its poetical 
condors had too long orated from mountain-tops; it was 
high time for swans, for towers of ivory. Besides, I be- 
lieve, this answered a certain need of the national psyche. 
The sensualist, too, has his moments of refinement, and 
he becomes the exquisite voluptuary. Science in poetry, 
as exemplified by the strophes of Martins Junior, is too 

1 The so-called Modernist movement (another meaningless name!) 
was really not a movement, but a scattered reaction against Spanish 
academic domination. It was French in inspiration and chiefly behind 
the lead of the Decadents resulted in a species of continental affirmation. 
I have tried, in my Studies in Spanish-American Literature, New York, 
1920, to show the emergence of this affirmation, from the romantic pred- 
ecessors in the New World and the French background, to such salient 
personalities as Dario, Rodo, Eguren, Blanco-Fombona and Chocano. 


often but rhymed harangue, even as the early Brazilian 
versifiers presented us with rhymed fruit-baskets, avia- 
ries and geographies. Note the unscientific worship of 
science in his lines, — that science which so prosaically he 
terms "o grande agente altruista," the great altruistic 

O seculo immortal, 6 seculo em que a conquista, 

A guerra, as religioes e as velhas monarchias 
Tem tombado no chao, nojentas como harpias, 

Tristes como o deserto! Eu curvo-me ante ti 

E ponho o joelho em terra afim de orar 

Ao teu busto ideal, titanico, estrellado! . . .^ 

The transition from Romanticism to Parnassjanlsm In 
Brazil may be studied In the poetry of Luiz Guimaraes 
and the earlier verses of Machado de Assis. I find It 
dlfl'icult to agree with either Verissimo or Carvalho In 
his estimate of Machado de Assls's poetry; Romero 
has by far the more tenable view. It may be true that the 
ChrysaUdas and the Phalenas of Machado de Assis, like 
the Sonetos e Rimas of Luiz Guimaraes, reveal a great 
refinement of form and elegance of rhyme, — even a 
wealth of rhythm. But colour and picturesqueness are 
hardly the distinguishing poetic traits of Machado de 
Assis, whose real poetry, as I try to show in the chapter 
dedicated especially to him, Is In his prose. 

Luiz Guimaraes was, from one aspect, a Romantic 

2 Oh, immortal century (i. e., the nineteenth), oh, century in which 
conquest, war, religions and the ancient monarchies have crumbled to 
earth, loathsome as harpies, gloomy as the desert! I bow before thee, 
touch my knee to the earth, that I may pray to thine ideal titanic, 
starry bust! 


with a more precise technique; his form, in other words, 
was quite as transitional as his content. In addition to 
French influence he underwent that of the Italians Stec- 
chetti and Carducci, of whom he made translations into 
Portuguese. His sonnet on Venice is illustrative of a 
number of his qualities, — his restrained saudade, his gift 
of picturesque evocation, his rich rhymes, his vocalic mel- 

Nao es a mesma, a flor de morhidezza, 
Rainha do Adriatico! Brilhante 
Jordao de amor, onde Musset errante 
Bebeu em ondas a lustral belleza. 

Ja nao possues, 6 triumphal Veneza, 
O teu sorriso — olympico diamante, 
Que se engastou do lord bardo amante 
Na fronte heroica de immortal grandeza. 

Tua escura laguna ja nao sente 
Da antiga serenata o som plangente, 
E OS soluQos de amor que nos teus barcos 

Exhalava a patricia voluptuosa. . . . 

Resta-te apenas a cangao saudosa 

Das gemedoras pombas de Sao Marcos. ^ 

"Machado de Assis," writes Carvalho,* "was a poet of 

3 You're not the same, oh flower of morhidezza, queen of the Adriatic! 
Glittering Jordan of love, where the wandering Musset drank lustral 
beauty in waves. Your smile, oh triumphal Venice, is gone — Olympic 
diamond that was set in the heroic forehead of the lord, bard and 
lover, immortally great. Your dark lagoon no longer hears the plan- 
gent strains of the olden serenade, — the sighs of love heaved by the vo- 
luptuous patrician in your gondolas. . . . There remains but the yearn- 
ful song of San Marco's moaning pigeons. 

*0p. Cit. P. 301. 


greater resources and fuller metrical invention than Luiz 
Guimaraes. His poetry . . . reveals a psychological 
intensity rarely attained in this country. Possessing a 
firm classical education, a profound knowledge of those 
humanities which in seventeenth century France were the 
distinguishing characteristic of the honnete hoifime, 
Machado succeeded In stamping upon his verses a truly 
singular Impress of subtlety and discretion. His Images 
are, as a rule, of a perfect realism, a clearness worthy 
of the old masters. His images are veritable par- 
ables. . . ." But, to one foreigner at least, — and, I 
suspect, to more than one Brazilian, Machado de Assis 
as a poet Is cold, not often achieving artistic communica- 
tion; he Is colourful, maybe, but his colours are seen 
through a certain diaphanous mist that rubs off their 
bloom. What Carvalho would find In the man's verses I 
discover, strangely enough. In his remarkable prose — his 
humorism, his pessimism. The themes most cer- 
tainly Inhere In his verse, but they are expressed at their 
best, most artistically developed, in his prose. Carvalho, 
seeking to rectify the position of this great figure In the 
history of Brazilian letters, would even make of him a 
pioneer. "This feeling of the tragico quotidiano," he as- 
serts, "which only today Is beginning to enter Into Brazil- 
ian poetry, was first revealed to our literature by Mach- 
ado de Assis. Although such notes are not frequent nor 
many In his work. It is none the less true that, before him, 
they were completely unknown. . . . Even in his poetry, 
his poetry that has been so unjustly judged and so pettily 
understood, Machado de Assis Is a pioneer, an originator 
of the first order. It was natural for his art not to be 
to the taste of the popular palate; it did not resound 


with the fireworks and the hoarse cries of Brazil's most 
loudly applauded verse-manufacturers." ^ 

Pioneering, however, is not poetry. In art, the idea 
belongs to him who makes the best use of it. In Mach- 
ado de Assis, the thought often subjected the emotion; 
this was characteristic of the man's peculiar psychology. 
I wpuld not be understood as denigrating his poetic 
memory; far from it. But in my opinion (and I can 
speak for no one else) he is in the conventional sense, 
only secondarily a poet, and a secondary poet. 

At the head of the true Parnassians stand Theophilo 
Dias, Raymundo Correia, Alberto de Oliveira and Olavo 
Bilac, though Verissimo sees in the Miniaturas of Gon- 
calves Crespo "the first manifestation of Parnassian 
poetry published here." ^ Crespo was not out-and-out 
Parnassian, however, as was Affonso Celso in his Telas 
sonantes of 1876. The very title — Sounding Canvases, 
i. e., pictures that sing their poetry — is in itself a pro- 
gram. Brazilian Parnassianism thus begins, according to 
Verissimo, in the decade 1 880-1 890. Sonetos e Rimas, 
by Luiz Guimaraes, appears in 1879; Raymundo Cor- 
reia's Symphonias are of 1883, his Versos e Fersoes, of 

5 Ibid. p. 303. 

^ Estudos 2a serie, P. 283. The book was published in Portugal, in 
1872, and was "read and admired here in 1872. The Miniaturas, the 
poems of which bear dates from 1867, to 1870, mention the poet as a 
Brazilian, native of Rio de Janeiro. He was, in fact, such by birth, by 
intention, and, what is of more importance, by intuition and sentiment, 
genuinely Brazilian. We ought, then, to count this, his first book, de- 
spite the fact that it was conceived and generated abroad, in the roster 
of our Parnassianism, and perhaps as one of its principle factors."' See, 
however, Afranio Peixoto's splendid two-volume edition of the Obras 
Completes de Castro Ahves, Rio de Janeiro, 1921, for a refutation of 
this opinion. (Page 15.) According to Alberto de Oliveira there are 
decided Parnassian leanings in Castro Alves's Espumas Fluctuantes, 1870, 
in the sonnets called Os anjos da meia noite (Midnight Angels.) 


1884; Alberto de Oliveira's Meridionaes are of 1884, 
and th.t Sonet as e poemas of 1886. In the very year that 
the Nicaraguan, Dario, with a tiny volume of prose and 
poetry called Aztil . , . and published in Chile, was in- 
itiating the "modernist" overturn in Spanish America, 
Bilac was issuing (1888) his Poesias. 

Brazilian Parnassianism, as we have seen, is less ob- 
jective, less impersonal than its French prototype. Poetic 
tradition and national character were alike opposed to 
the Gallic finesse, erudition, ultra-refinement. Pick up 
the many so-called Parnassian poems of Spanish or Portu- 
guese America, remove the names of the authors and the 
critical excrescences, and see how difficult it is — from the 
evidence of the poem itself — to apply the historical la- 

Theophilo Dias is hardly the self-controlled chiseller of 
Greek marbles. How "Parnassian," for example, is 
such a verse as this, speaking of his lady's voice? 

Exerce sobre mim um brando despotismo 

Que me orgulha, e me abate; — e ha nesse magnetismo 

Uma forca tamanha, uma electricidade, 

Que me fascina e prende as bordas de um abysmo, 

Sem que eu tente fugir, — inerte, sem vontade. '^ 

This is not the kind of thought that produces genuine 
Parnassian poetry. How "impersonal" is it ? How 
"sculptural"? More than one poem of the "Romanti- 
cist" Machado de Assis is far more Parnassian. 

And listen to this description, by Carvalho, of Ray- 

"^ It exercises over me a gentle tyranny that fills me with pride and 
casts me down; there is in this magnetism such power, an electricity 
that fascinates me and draws me to the edge of an abyss. And I, inert, 
without will power, make no attempt to flee. 


mundo Correia. How "Parnassian" does it sound? 
"Anger, friendship, hatred, jealousy, terror, hypocrisy, 
all the tints and half-tints of human illusion, all that is 
closest to our innermost heart ... he weighed and 
measured, scrutinized and analysed with the patient care 
of a naturalist who was, at the same time, a prudent and 
well-informed psychologist. Nor is this all. . . . Ray- 
mundo is an admirable painter of our landscape, an ex- 
quisite impressionist, who reflects, with delicious senti- 
ment, the light and shade of the Brazilian soil." ^ 

There is no denying the beneficial influence of the Par- 
nassians upon the expressive powers of the Brazilian 
poets. The refinement of style mirrored a refinement of 
the thought. If I stress the difference between the 
French and the Brazilian Parnassians it is not alone to 
emphasize the partial inability of the latter to imitate the 
foreign models, but to show how genuine personality 
must triumph over group affiliations. Raymundo Cor- 
reia was such a personality; his sensibility was too re- 
sponsive for complete surrender to formula. One of 
his sonnets long enjoyed the reputation of being the most 
popular ever penned in his country: 

Vae-se a primeira pomba despertada. . . . 
Vae-se outra mais . . . mais outra . . . enfin dezenas 
De pombas vao-se dos pombaes, apenas 
Raia, sanguinea e fresca, a madrugada. 

E a tarde, quando a rigida nortada 
Sopra, aos pombaes de novo ellas serenas, 
Ruflando as azas, sacudindo as pennas, 
Voltam todas em bando e em revoada. 

8 Op. Cit. Page 307. Tb? italics gre mine. 


Tambem dos coraqoes, onde, abotoam, 
Os sonhos, um por um, celeres voam, 
Como voam as pombas dos pombaes. 

No azul da adolescencia as azas soltam, 

Fogem . . . mas aos pombaes as pombas voltam, 

E elles aos coragoes nao voltam mais. . . . ^ 

This is the more yearnful voice of Raymundo Correia's 
muse, who knows, too, the futility of rebellion against 
"God, who cruelly creates us for grief; God, who created 
us and who was not created." This conception of uni- 
versal grief is his central theme, and it is significant that 
when Carvalho seeks spiritual analogies he goes — to Par- 
nassians? No. To Leopardi, to Byron, to Pushkin, 
to Buddha. 

Alberto de Oliveira, genuine artist that he was — and 
it was the fashion at one time for the Brazilian poets, 
under Parnassian influence, to call themselves artists 
rather than poets — maintained his personality through 
all his labours. Like a true Brazilian, he renders homage 
to the surrounding scene and even his sadness is several 
parts softness. In the manner of the day he wrote many 
a sonnet of pure description, but this represents restraint 
rather than predilection, for at other times, as in his Vo- 
lupia, he bursts out in a nostalgia for love that proves his 
possession of it even at the moment of his denial. 

9 The first dove, awakened, flies off, then another and another. Fi- 
nally they leave the cote by tens, as soon as the fresh, red, dawn appears. 
And at evening, when the bitter north-wind blows, fluttering their wings 
and shaking their feathers, they all return to the cote in a flock. So, 
from our hearts, where they burgeon, our dreams, one by one, depart 
in flight like the doves from the cote. They spread their wings in 
the azure of youth, and fly off. . . . But the doves return to the dove- 
cote, while our dreams return nevermore. 


Fico a ver que tudo ama. E eu nao amo, eu somente! 

Ama este chao que piso, a arvore a que me encosto, 

Esta aragem subtil que vem rocar-me o rosto, 

Estas azas que no ar zumbem, esta folhagem, 

As feras que no cio o seu antro selvagem 

Deixam por ver a luz que as magnetiza, os broncos 

Penhascaes do deserto, o rio, a selva, os troncos, 

E OS ninhos, e a ave, a folha, e a flor, e o fructo, e o ramo. . . . 

E eu so nao amo ! eu so nao amo ! eu so nao amo ! ^° 

Note how similar are these verses in content to the cries 
of love denied that rise from Goncalves DIas and Casl- 
miro de Abreu, — two Romantics of the movement's 
height. Carvalho, too, sees that in Alberto de Ollveira 
there Is, In addition to the talent for description, "a sub- 
jective poet of genuine value." 

For a long time Olavo Bllac enjoyed the sobriquet 
"Prince of Brazilian poets." It matters little that part 
of his posthumous book, Tarde^ reveals a social preoc- 
cupation. To the history of Brazilian letters, and to his 
countrymen, he Is first of all the resounding voice of vo- 
luptuousness. And, as happens so often with the ultra- 
refined of his kin, the taste of his ecstasies at times is 
blunted by the memento mori of weary thought. The 
world becomes a pendulum swinging between vast con- 
trasts, and It takes both swings to complete the great vi- 

I*' I see that everything loves. And I, I alone, love not. This soil I 
tread loves, — the tree against which I lean, this gentle zephyr that fans 
my cheek, — ^these wings that flutter in the air, — this foliage, — the beasts 
who, in rut, leave their wild lairs to gaze upon the light that magnetizes 
them, — ^the crags of the desert, — the river, the forest, the tree-trunks, the 
children, the bird, the leaf, the flower, the fruit, the branch. . . . And I 
alone love not ! I alone love not ! I alone love not ! 


O Natureza! o mae piedosa e pura! 

O cruel, implacavel assassina! 

— Mao, que o veneno e o balsamo propina 

E aos sorrisos as lagrimas mistura! 

Pois o bergo, onde a bocca pequenina 
Abre o infante a sorrir, e a miniatura 
A vaga imagem de uma sepultura, 
O germen vivo de uma atroz ruina?! 

Sempre o contraste! Passaros cantando 
Sobre tumulos . . . flores sobre a face 
De ascosas aguas putridas boiando. . . . 

Anda a tristeza ao lado de alegria. . . . 

E esse teu seio, de onde a noite nasce, 

E o mesmo seio de onde nasce o dia. . .-. ^^ 

The theme is as common as joy and sorrow; at the very 
beginning of Brazilian literature we meet it in a coarser 
sensualist, Gregorio de Mattos Guerra. In Raymundo 
Correia, in Machado de Assis, such rhymed homilies are 
common. They illustrate rather the philosophical back- 
ground of the poets than their more artistic creativeness. 
Voluptuary that he was, Bilac preferred in poetry the 
carefull}^ wrought miniature to the Titanic block of 
marble; at his best he attains a rare effect of eloquent 
simplicity. He was as Parnassian as a Brazilian may be 
in verse, yet more than once, as he chiselled his figurines, 

1^ Oh, nature! O pure, piteous mother! oh, cruel, implacable assassin! 
Hand that proffers both poison and balm, and blends smiles with tears. 
The cradle, where the infant opens her tiny mouth to smile, is the minia- 
ture, the vague image of a coffin, — ^the living germ of a frightful end ! 
Eternal contrast. Birds twittering upon tombs . . . flowers floating 
upon the surface of ugly, putrid waters. . . . Sadness walks at the side 
of joy. . . . And this your bosom, wherein night is born, is the self- 
same bosom whence is born the day. . . . 


they leaped to life under his instrument, like diminutive 
Galateas under the breath of Pygmalion. 

Assim procedo, Minha penna 

Segue esta norma, 
Por te servir, Deusa serena, 
Serena Forma! 

"Thus I proceed," he declares in the poem that opens his 
Poesias, presenting his particular ars poetica. "My pen 
follows this standard. To serve you. Serene Goddess, 
Serene Form!" Yet read the entire poem; note, as an 
almost insignificant detail, the numerous exclamation 
points; note, too, that he is making love to that Goddess, 
that he is promising to die in her service. The words are 
the words of Parnassianism, but the voice is the voice of 
passionate personality, romantically dedicated to Style. 
Indeed, for the epigraph to his entire work one might 
quote the lines from Musset's "Rolla": 

J'aime! — voila le mot que la nature entiere 
Crie au vent qui I'emporte, a I'oiseau qui le suit! 
Sombre et dernier soupir que poussera la terre 
Quand elle tombera dans I'eternelle nuit! 

Bilac's passion at its height may replace the Creator of 
life himself; thus, in A Alvorada do Amor, Adam, be- 
fore his Eve, cries ecstatically his triumph, despite their 
lost paradise. He blesses the moment in which she re- 
vealed her sin and life with her crime, "For, freed of 
God, redeemed and sublime, I remain a man upon earth, 
in the light of thine eyes. Earth, better than Heaven; 
Man, greater than God!" 

All, or almost all, of Bilac, is in this poem, which is 


thus one of his pivotal creations. De Carvalho has 
termed him a poet of "pansexualism"; the name might 
be misleading, as his verses more often reveal the gour- 
met, rather than the gourmand of eroticism. ^^ 

The more to show the uncertain nature of Brazilian 
Parnasslanism, we have the figures of Luiz Delfino and 
Luiz Murat, termed by some Parnassians and by others 
Romantics. Delfino has been called by Romero {Livro 
do Centen'ario, Vol. I, page 71), "for the variety and ex- 
tent of his work, the best poet of Brazil." The same 
critic, some thirty-three pages farther along In the same 
account, calls Murat deeper and more philosophic than 
Delfino, and equalled only by Cruz e Souza in the pene- 
tration of the human soul. And by the time (page no, 
Ibid.) he has reached the last-named of these poets, 
Cruz e Souza becomes "in many respects the best poet 
Brazil has produced." 

Yet the effect of the French neo-classlcists upon the 
Brazilian poets was, as Verisslmo has shown, threefold: 
form was perfected, the excessive preoccupation with 
self was diminished, the themes became more varied. 
"This same Influence, following the example of what had 
happened In France, restored the sonnet to the national 
poetry, whence the Romantics had almost banished It, 
and on the other hand banished blank verse, which 
is so natural to our tongue and our poetry. ... As 
to form, our Parnassian poets merely completed the evo- 
lution led in Portugal and there by two poets who, 
whatever their merits, had a vast effect upon our poetry, 
Antonio de Castilho and Thomaz Ribeiro. Machado de 
Assis evidently and confessedly owes to the first, If not 

12 See the chapter devoted to him in Part Two of this book. 


also to the second, the advantages of his metrification 
and of his poetic form in general over that of some of his 
contemporaries, such as Castro Alves and Varella. Par- 
nassianism refined this form . . . with its preoccupations 
with relief and colour, as in the plastic arts, — with ex- 
quisite sonorities, as in music, — with metrical artifices that 
should heighten mere correctness and make an impression 
through the feeling of a difficulty conquered, — with the 
search for rich rhymes and rare rhymes, and, as in prose, 
for the adjective that was peregrine, and if not exact, 
surprising. All this our poets did here as a strict imita- 
tion of the French, and since it is the externality of things 
that it is easy and possible to imitate and not that which 
is their very essence, a great number of them merely re- 
produced in pale copy the French Parnassians. 
Thus, for some fifteen years, we were truly inundated 
with myriads of sonnets describing domestic scenes, land- 
scapes, women, animals, historic events, seascapes, moon- 
light ... a veritable gallery of pictures in verse that 
pretended to be poetry." 

Here, as everywhere else, the true personalities sur- 
vive. Chief among the Brazilian Parnassians are the 
few whom we have here considered. 


The naturalistic novel in Brazil is, from the artistic 
standpoint, the work of some four men, — Machado de 
Assis, Aluizio de Azevedo, Julio Ribeiro and Raul Pom- 
peia. Ribeiro's Came (Flesh) and Pompeia's Atheneu 
represent, respectively, the influence of Zola upon the 
natural sensuousness of the Brazilian and the impact of 
complex modernity upon that sensuousness. 


The prose work of Machado de Assis is not exclu- 
sively naturalistic; indeed, he should be considered, though 
of his age, a spirit apart; as he rises above the limitations 
of Brazilian letters, so he is too big for any circumscribed 
epoch to contain. With the year 1879 he began a long 
period of maturity that was to last for thirty years. It 
was during this fruitful phase that he produced the 
Memorias Postumas de Braz Cubas, Oiiincas Borba, 
Historias Sem Data, Dom Casmurro, Farias Historias, 
and other notable works. His long fiction, as his short, 
exhibits the same bitter-sweet philosophy and gracious, 
yet penetrating irony. In the best of his prose works 
he penetrates as deep as any of his countrymen into the 
abyss of the human soul. 

The judgment of Verissimo upon Machado de Assis 
differs somewhat from that of his distinguished com- 

"With Farias Historias," he says in his studies of 
Brazilian letters, "Sr. Machado de Assis published his 
fifteenth volume and his fifth collection of tales. . . . 
To say that in our literature Machado de Assis is a figure 
apart, that he stands with good reason first among our 
writers of fiction, that he possesses a rare faculty of 
assimilation and evolution which makes him, a writer of 
the second Romantic generation, always a contempor- 
ary, a modern, without on this account having sacrificed 
anything to the latest literary fashion or copied some 
brand-new esthetic, above all conserving his own distinct, 
singular personality ... is but to repeat what has been 
said many times already. All these judgments are con- 
firmed by his latest book, wherein may be noted the same 
impeccable correctness of language, the same firm grasp 


upon form, the same abundancy, force and originality of 
thought that make of him the only thinker among our 
writers of fiction, the same sad, bitter irony. . . . 

"After that there was published another book by Sr. 
Machado de Assis, Yaya Garcia. Although this is really 
a new edition, we may well speak of it here since the 
first, pubhshed long before, is no longer remembered by 
the public. Moreover, this book has the delightful and 
honest charm of being in the writer's first manner. 

"But let us understand at once, this reference to Mach- 
ado de Assis's first manner. In this author more than 
once is justified the critical concept of the unity of works 
displayed by the great writers. All of Machado de 
Assis is practically present in his early works; in fact, he 
did not change, he scarcely developed. He is the most 
individual, the most personal, the most 'himself of our 
writers; all the germs of this individuality that was to 
attain in Bras Cithas, in Quincas Borha, in the Papeis 
Avidsos and in Farias Historias its maximum of virtu- 
osity, may be discovered in his first poems and in his ear- 
liest tales. His second manner, then, of which these 
books are the best example, is only the logical, natural, 
spontaneous development of his first, or rather, it is the 
first manner with less of the romantic and more of the 
critical tendencies. . . . The distinguishing trait of 
Machado de Assis is that he is, in our literature, an artist 
and a philosopher. Up to a short time ago he was the 
only one answering to such a description. Those who 
come after him proceed consciously and unconsciously 
from him, some of them being mere worthless imitators. 
In this genre, if I am not misemploying that term, he 
remained without a peer. Add that this philosopher is a 


pessimist by temperament and by conviction, and you will 
have as complete a characterization as it is possible to 
design of so strong and complex a figure as his in two 
strokes of the pen. 

"Yaya Garcia, like Resurreiqao and Helena, is a ro- 
mantic account, perhaps the most romantic written by the 
author. Not only the most romantic, but perhaps the 
most emotional. In the books that followed it is easy 1 

to see how the emotion is, one might say, systematically 1 

repressed by the sad irony of a disillusioned man's real- 
ism." Verissimo goes on to Imply that such a work as 
this merits comparison with the humane books of Tolstoi. 
But this only on the surface. "For at bottom, it con- 
tains the author's misanthropy. A social, amiable mis- 
anthropy, curious about everything, interested In every- 
thing — what Is, in the final analysis, a way of loving man- 
kind without esteeming It. . , . 

"The excellency with which the author of Yaya Garcia 
writes our language is proverbial. . . . The highest dis- 
tinction of the genius of Machado de Assis in Brazilian 
literature is that he is the only truly universal writer we 
possess, without ceasing on that account to be really Bra- 


When the Brazihan Academy of letters was founded In 
1897, Machado de Assis was unanimously elected presi- 
dent and held the position until his death. Ollveira 
Lima, who lectured at Harvard during the college season 
of 19 1 5— 19 16, and who is himself one of the most intel- 
lectual forces of contemporary Brazil, has written of 
Machado de Assis: "By his extraordinary talent as 
writer, by his profound literary dignity, by the unity of a 
life that was entirely devoted to the cult of intellectual 


beauty, and by the prestige exerted about him by his work 
and by his personality, Machado de Assis succeeded, de- 
spite a nature that was averse to acclaim and little inclined 
to public appearance, in being considered and respected as 
the first among his country's men-of-letters : the head, if 
that word can denote the idea, of a youthful literature 
which already possesses Its traditions and cherishes above 
all its glories. . . . His life was one of the most regu- 
lated and peaceful after he had given up active journal- 
ism, for like so many others, he began his career as a polit- 
ical reporter, paragrapher and dramatic critic." ^^ 

With the appearance of O Mulato, 1881, by Aluizlo 
Azevedo ( 1857-1912), the literature of Brazil, prepared 
for such a reorientation by the direct influence of the great 
Portuguese, Ega de Queiroz and of Emile Zola, was de- 
finitely steered toward naturalism. "In Aluizio Aze- 
vedo," says Benedicto Costa, "one finds neither the poetry 
of Jose de Alencar, nor the delicacy, — I should even say, 
archness, — of Macedo, nor the sentimental preciosity of 
Taunay, nor the subtle irony of Machado de Assis. His 
phrase Is brittle, lacking lyricism, tenderness, dreaminess, 
but It Is dynamic, energetic, expressive, and, at times sen- 
sual to the point of sweet delirium." 

O Mulato, though It was the work of a youth In his 
early twenties, has been acknowledged as a solid, well- 
constructed example of Brazilian realism. There is a 
note of humour, as well as a lesson in criticism, in the 
author's anecdote (told in his foreword to the fourth edi- 
tion) about the provincial editor who advised the youth- 
ful author to give up writing and hire himself out on a 
farm. This was all the notice he received from his native 

13 See Part Two for a special chapter on Machado de Assis. 


province, Maranhao. Yet Azevedo grew to be one of the 
few Brazilian authors who supported himself by his pen. 
Aluizio de Azevedo's types (O Cort'iqo, O Livro de 
Uma Sogra) are the opposite to Machado de Assis's; 
they are coarse, violent, terre-a-terre. They are not so 
much a different Brazilian than we find in the poetry of 
Bilac, as a lower stratum of that same intelligence and 
physical blend. 


Symbolism, even more than Parnassianism in Brazil, 
was a matter of imitation, "in many cases," as the truth- 
ful Verissimo avers, "unintelligent. It most certainly 
does not correspond to a movement of reaction, mystical, 
sensualist, individualistic, socialistic, anarchistic and even 
classic, as in Europe, — to a movement, in short, which is 
the result, on one side, of a revolt against the social organ- 
ization, proved incapable of satisfying legitimate aspira- 
tions and needs of the individual, and on the other, of the 
exhaustion of Naturalism and Parnassianism." In po- 
etry, the school itself centres in Brazil about the personal- 
ity of Cruz e Souza, an African with a keen sense of the 
racial injustice visited upon him, and with a pride that 
could not stifle his outcries. He is often incorrect, and it 
is true that carping scrutiny could find ample fare in his 
verses, but they are saved by a creative sincerity. 

It takes but a superficial knowledge of French Symbol- 
ism to see how far are such poets as Cruz e Souza 
and B. Lopez from their Gallic brethren. Insert Cruz c 
Souza's verses, without their author's name, among the 
clamorous output of the Romantics that preceded him, 
and see how difficult it is to single many of them out for 


any qualities that distinguish them as technique or matter. 
The African was a spontaneous rather than an erudite 
spirit. Verissimo does not even believe that he was con- 
scious of his gifts. And if, at any time, he pretended to 
possess a special theory of esthetics, the noted critic 
would have it that the poet's well-meaning but ill-advised 
friends instigated him. He was a "good, sentimental, 
ignorant" soul "whose shocks against the social ambient 
resulted in poetry." De Carvalho holds a higher opinion: 
"He introduced into our letters that horror of concrete 
form of which the great Goethe was already complaining 
at the close of the eighteenth century. And such a serv- 
ice, in all truth, was not small in a country where poetry 
flows more from the finger-tips than from the heart." 

Verissimo, indeed, does Cruz e Souza something less 
than justice. In his short life (1863-1898) the ardent 
Negro poet succeeded in stamping the impress of his 
personality upon his age and, for that matter, upon 
Brazilian letters. He is incorrect, obscure, voluble, — 
but he is contagiously sincere and transmits an impression 
of fiery exaltation. His stature will grow, rather than 
diminish with time. Bernadim do Costa Lopez (1851— 
19 16) began as a bucolic Romanticist (in Chromos) , 
later veering to a Parnassianism (in Hellenos) that con- 
tained less art than imitative artifice. 

Among the outstanding spirits of the later poets are 
the mystical Emilio de Menezes and the serenely simple 
Mario Pederneiras. The latter (1868-1915) seems to 
have undergone the influence of Francis Jammes; he is 
one of the few Brazilians who acquired ease in the 
manipulation of free verse. Emilio de Menezes, who 
like Machado de Assis has translated Poe's The Raven, 


is best known for his remarkable trio of religious sonnets 
grouped under the title Os Tres Othares de Maria (The 
Three Glances of Mary) ^^ 

Later developments in Brazil, as in Spanish America, 
reveal no definite tendencies that may be grouped 
under any particular "ism." Rampant individualism pre- 
cludes the schools of literary memory. Aranha's Cha- 
naan directed attention to the Brazilian melting-pot. 
One result of the recent war has been, in Bra- 
zil, to strengthen the national spirit, and in 
Sao Paulo, particularly, a young group headed 
by the industrious Monteiro Lobato s.eems to 
show a partial return to regionalism. The directing 
inspiration for the more clearly regionalistic art came per- 
haps from Euclydes da Cunha, whose Sertoes brought so 
poignant a realization that Brazil lived in the interior 
as well as on the coast. As a corollary of the aspiration 
toward national intellectual autonomy, there is setting in 
a reaction against France, in favour of national, even 
local types and themes. The literary product, if not at 
its highest, is upon a respectable level. The novel is 
ably represented by Coelho Netto, ^^ while the drama, not 
so fortunate, plods along a routine path with such pur- 
veyors as Claudio de Souza in the lead. To the Sao 
Paulo group I look for the early emergence of some 
worth-while talents, — young men of culture and vision 

1* See, for a good study of Emilio de Menezes, Elysio de Carvalho's 
As Modernas Correntes Estheticas na Literatura Brazileira. Rio, 1907. 
Pp. 62-74. 

IS See Part Two for chapters on Gra?a Aranha, Monteiro Lobato, 
Euclydes da Cunha and Coelho Netto. 


who will bring to Brazil not merely the plethora of poesy 
that gluts her eyes and ears, but a firm grasp upon the 
prose that is the other half of life. Romero, years ago, 
said that what Brazil needed more than anything else was 
a regimen for its daily life. Only yesterday, Lobato, in 
his Problema Vital, studied the problem of what he calls 
the ailment of an entire country, seeking first of all to 
convince the nation that it was ill. And his initial pre- 
scription, like that of Romero, calls for a national hy- 
giene. To this purpose he subordinates his activities as 

Thus conditions, though not so bad as when Veris- 
simo studied his problem of the Brazilian writer some 
thirty years ago, are still analagous. He found the liter- 
ature of his country, at that time, an unoriginal, pupil- 
literature, often misunderstanding its masters, yet en- 
dowed with certain undisputed points of originality. 
"The Brazilian writer, in his vast majority of cases, 
does not learn to write; he learns while writing. And 
it is doubtless useful to him as well as to our letters that 
the critic, at times, should turn instructor. The lack of 
a public interested in literary life, and capable of intel- 
ligent choice among works and authors, makes this se- 
condary function of criticism even more necessary and 
serviceable. . . ." 

Brazilian literature, as is highly evident, is not one of 
the major divisions of world letters. It lacks contin- 
uity, It Is too largely derivative, too poor in master- 
pieces. Yet today, more at least than when Wolf wrote 
so enthusiastically in 1863, it is true that "Brazilian 
literature may justly claim consideration as being really 
national; in this quality It has its place assigned in the 


ensemble of the literatures of the civilized world; fi- 
nally, and above all in its most recent period, it has de- 
veloped in all directions, and has produced in the prin- 
cipal genres works worthy the attention of all friends of 

The finest fruits of a national literature are the sal- 
ient personalities who cross all frontiers and achieve 
such a measure of universality as is attainable in this 
best and worst of all possible worlds. As the region 
nurtures the national letters, so the national nurtures the 
international. And this internationality is but the most 
expansive phase of the individual in whom all art begins 
and in whom all art seeks its goal. For art begins and 
ends in the individual. A few such personalities Brazil 
has already produced, notably in the criticism of Jose 
Verissimo, the prose of Machado de Assis, the intel- 
lectuality of Oliveira Lima, the poetry of Olavo Bilac. 
They are valuable contributions to Goethe's idea of a 
JVeltliteratur. Such as they, rather than a roster of 
"isms," "ists" and "ologies," justify the study of the 
milieu and the tradition that helped to produce them. 
But precisely because they triumph over the milieu, be- 
cause they shape it rather than are shaped by it, do they 
rise above the academic confines into that small library 
whose shelves know only one classification: significant 




DURING the last half of the month of February, 
1868, two admirable letters were exchanged by 
a pair of notable men, in which both discerned 
the budding fame of a twenty-year-old poet. The two 
notables were Jose de Alencar, chief novelist of the "In- 
dianist" school, and Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, 
not yet at the height of his career. The poet was 
Castro Alves. His real "discoverer" was the first of 
these two authors, who sent him from Tijuca to Machado 
de Assis at Rio de Janeiro. In his letter of the i8th of 
February, Jose de Alencar wrote (I quote only salient 
passages) : 

"Yesterday I received a visit from a poet. 

"Rio de Janeiro does not yet know him; in a very 
short while all Brazil will know him. It is understood, 
of course, that I speak of that Brazil which feels; with 
the heart and not with the rest. 

"Sr. Castro Alves is a guest of this great city, for but 
a few days. He is going to Sao Paulo to finish the 
course that he began at Olinda. 

"He was born in Bahia, the region of so many excel- 
lent talents; the Brazilian Athens that does not weary of 
producing statesmen, orators, poets and warriors. 

'I might add that he Is the son of a noted physician. 




But why? The genealogy of poets begins with their first 
poem. And what is the value of parchments compared 
with these divine seals? . . . 

"Sr. Castro Alves recalled that I had formerly written 
for the theatre. Appraising altogether too highly my 
experience in this difficult branch of literature, he wished 
to read me a drama, the first fruits of his talent. 

"This production has already weathered the test of 
competent audiences upon the stage. . . . 

"Gonzaga is the title of the drama, which we read in 
a short time. The plot, centered about the revolution- 
ary attempt at Minas, — a great source of historical po- 
etry as yet little exploited, — has been enriched by the 
author with episodes of keen interest. 

"Sr. Castro Alves is a disciple of Victor Hugo, in the 
architecture of the drama, as in the coloring of the idea. 
The poem belongs to the same ideal school; the style has 
the same brilliant touches. 

"To imitate Victor Hugo is given only to capable intel- 
ligences. The Titan of literature possesses a palette 
that in the hands of a mediocre colorist barely pro- 
duces splotches. . . . 

"Nevertheless, beneath this imitation of a sublime 
model is evidenced an original inspiration that will later 
form the literary individuality of the author. His work 
throbs with the powerful sentiment of nationality, that 
soul of the fatherland which makes great poets as it 
makes great citizens. . . . 

"After the reading of his drama, Sr. Castro Alves 
recited for me some of his verses. A Cascata de Paulo 
Jffonso, As dims ilhas and A visdo dos mortos do not 


yield to the excellent examples of this genre in the Portu- 
guese tongue. ... 

"Be the Virgil to this young Dante; lead him through 
the untrodden ways over which one travels to disillu- 
sionment, indifference and at length to glory, — the three 
vast circles of the divine comedy of talent." 

The reply from Machado de Assis came eleven days 
later. He found the newcomer quite as original as Jose 
de Alencar had made him out to be. Castro Alves pos- 
sessed a genuine "literary vocation, full of life and vigour 
and revealing in the magnificence of the present the prom- 
ise of the future. I found an original poet. The evil 
of our contemporary poetry is that it is imitative — in 
speech, ideas, imagery. . . . Castro Alves's muse has 
her own manner. If it may be discerned that his school 
is that of Victor Hugo, it is not because he copies him ser- 
vilely, but because a related temperament leads him to 
prefer the poet of the Orientales to the poet of Les Med- 
itations. He is certainly not attracted to the soft, lan- 
guishing tints of the elegy; he prefers the live hues and 
the vigorous lines of the ode." 

Machado de Assis found in the poet the explanation of 
the dramatist. Gonzaga, to be sure, is no masterpiece 
of the theatre, and Castro Alves quickly returned from 
that interlude in his labours to the more potent appeal of 
resounding verse. If he was fortunate, at the outset, to 
find so influential a pair to introduce him into the literary 
world, it was his merit alone that won him early prom- 
inence. Only a year ago, signalizing the commemora- 
tion of the fifteenth anniversary of his death, Afranio 
Peixoto prefaced the two splendid volumes of his com- 


plete works — including much hitherto unpublished ma- 
terial — with a short essay in which he calls Castro Alves 
O Maior Poeta Brasiletro (The Greatest of Brazilian 
Poets). Let the superlative pass. If it is not impor- 
tant to criticism — and how many superlatives are? — it 
shows the lasting esteem in which his countrymen hold 
him. He is not only the poet of the slaves; to many, he 
is the poet of the nation and a poet of humanity as well. 

His talents appeared early; at the Gymnasio Bahiano, 
by the time he was twelve — and this was already the mid- 
point of his short life — he not only wrote his first verses, 
but showed marked aptitude for painting. Long before 
his twentieth year he had become the rival of Tobias 
Barreto, the philosopher of Sergipe, not only -in poetry, 
it seems, but in theatrical intrigue that centred about 
the persons of Adelaide do Amaral and Eugenia Ca- 
mara. While Barreto, the half-forgotten initiator of the 
condoreiro style, led the admirers of the first, Eugenia 
Camara exercised a powerful attraction over Castro 
Alves, in whom she inspired his earliest lyrics. Perhaps 
it was because of her that he aspired to the dramatic 
eminence which he sought with Gonzaga, produced 
on September 7, 1867, at the Theatro Sao Joao amidst 
scenes of tumultuous success. It was directly after 
this triumph that he came to Jose de Alencar. As we see 
from that writer's letter, the youth was intent upon con- 
tinuing his studies; in Sao Paulo he rose so quickly to 
fame among the students, not alone for his verses but 
for his gifted delivery of them and his natural eloquence, 
that he was shortly hailed as the foremost Brazilian poet 
of the day. 


But unhapplness lay straight before him. His mis- 
tress left him; on a hunt he accidentally shot his heel and 
later had to go to Rio to have the foot amputated; the 
first symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis appeared and, 
in 1869, he returned to Bahia to prepare his Espumas 
Fhictuantes for the press. Change of climate was of 
temporary benefit; he went back to the capital to be re- 
ceived in triumph; new loves replaced the old. He was 
foredoomed, however, and during the next two years he 
worked with the feverish haste of one who knows that 
his end is near. He died on July 6, 1871. 

In the history of Brazilian poetry Castro Alves may be 
regarded as a figure characterized by the more easily 
recognized traits of romanticism plus the infiltration of 
social ideas into the sentimental content. Some would 
even discover in a few of his products the first signs 
of the nascent Parnassianism in Brazil. Long before 
Carvalho selected him as the chief exponent of social 
themes in the romantic period, Verissimo had indicated 
that Castro Alves was "our first social poet, the epic 
writers excepted. He is the first to have devoted a con- 
siderable part of his labours not to sentimental subjectiv- 
ism, which constitutes the greatest and the best part of 
our poetry, but to singing or idealizing social feeling, fact 
and aspiration." 

Hugo is his great god; . . . "nosso velho Hugo. — 
mestre do mundo ! Sol da eternldade! " he exclaims in 
Sub tegmine fagi. "Our old Hugo. Master of the world I 
Sun of eternity!" Alves, often even in his love poetry, 
seems to orate from the mountain tops. "Let us draw 
these curtains over us," he sings in Boa Noite (Good 


Night) ; "they are the wings of the archangel of love." 
Or, in the Adeus de Thereza, if time passes by, it must be 
"centuries of delirium, Divine pleasures . . . delights of 
Elysium. . . ." His language, as often as not, is the 
language of poetic fever; image clashes upon image; an- 
tithesis runs rife; verses flow from him like lava 
down the sides of a volcano. Nothing human seems 
alien to his libertian fervour. He captures the Brazilian 
imagination by giving its fondness for eloquence ideas to 
feed upon.^ Now he is singing the glories of the book 
and education, now upbraiding the assassin of Lincoln, 
now glorifying the rebel, now picturing the plight of the 
wretched slaves in words that are for all the world like 
a shower of sparks. In his quieter moments he can sing 
love songs as tender as the cooing of any dove, as 

1 "It has already been said," writes Verissimo, "that the Latins 
have no poetry, but rather eloquence; they confound sentimental emo- 
tion, which is the predicate of poetry, with intellectual sensation, which 
is the attribute of eloquence. There is in the poetry of the so-called 
Latin peoples more rhetoric than spontaneity, more art than nature, 
more artifice than simplicity. It is more erudite, more 'laboured,' more 
intellectual, and for that reason less felt, less sincere, less ingenuous than 
that of the Anglo-Saxon peoples, for example. I do not discuss this 
notion. We Brazilians, who are scarcely half Latin, are highly sensi- 
tive, I know, to poetic rhetoric, — 'which does not prevent us, however, 
from being moved by the sentimentalism of poetry — though superficially 
— when it comes in the simple form of popular lyrism and sings, as 
that does, with its naive rhetoric, the sensual passions of our amorous 
ardor, which is characteristic of hybrids. Examples of this are Casimiro 
de Abreu, Laurindo Rabello, Varella and Gongalves Dias himself. When 
the poets became refined, and wrapped their passion, real or feigned — 
and in fact rather feigned than real — in the sightly and false externals 
of the Parnassian rhetoric, bending all their efforts toward meticulous 
perfection of form, rhyme, metre, sound, they ceased to move the people, 
or impressed it only by the outer aspect of their perfect poems through 
the sonority of their verses. For at bottom, what we prefer is form, 
but form that is rhetorical and eloquent, or what seems to us such, — 
palavrao (wordiness), emphasis, beautiful images. . . ." 


In O Laco de fito; he can indite the most graceful and 
inviting of bucolics as in Sulb tegmine fagi; and this softer 
note is an integral part of his labours. 

But what brought fame to Castro Alves was his civic, 
social note. From Heine, to whom he is indebted for 
something of his social aspiration, he took as epigraph 
for his collection Os Escravos, a sentiment that reveals 
his own high purpose. "Flowers, flowers! I would 
crown my head with them for the fray. The lyre ! Give 
me, too, the lyre, that I may chant a song of war. , . . 
Words like flaming stars that, falling, set fire to palaces 
and bring light to hovels. . . . Words like glittering 
arrows that shoot into the seventh heaven and strike 
the imposture that has wormed into the holy of holies. 
. . . I am all joy, all enthusiasm; I am the sword, I am 
the flame! . . ." The quotation is almost a description 
of Alves's method. Once again, for the part of Os Escra- 
vos that was published separately five years after his 
death, we find an epigraph from Heine prefacing A Ca- 
choeira de Paulo Afonso (The Paulo Affonso Falls) : 
"I do not really know whether I shall have deserved that 
some day a laurel should be placed upon my bier. Po- 
etry, however great be my love for it, has ever been for 
me only a means consecrated to a holy end. ... I have 
never attached too great a value to the fame of my poems, 
and it concerns me little whether they be praised or 
blamed. It should be a sword that you place upon my 
tomb, for I have been a brave soldier in the war of hu- 
manity's deliverance." This, too, is a description of Cas- 
tro Alves. He was a sword rather than a lyre; certainly 
his verse shows a far greater preoccupation with purpose 
than with esthetic illumination, and just as certainly does 


lie fall far short of both Hugo and Heine in their fre- 
quent triumph over whatever purpose they professed. 

I am not sure that the Brazilians do not confuse their 
admiration for Alves's short life and its noble dedica- 
tion with the very variable quality of his poetry. Read 
by one with no Latin blood in his veins it seems too often 
a dazzling display of verbal pyrotechnics, freighted with 
a few central slogans rather than any depth of idea. I 
speak now of the work as a whole and not of the out- 
standing poems, such as As vozes da Africa (voices from 
Africa), O Navio Negreiro (The Slave Ship), Pedro 
Ivo. It is in these few exceptions that the poet will 
live, but just as surely, it seems to me, will his esthetic 
importance shrink to smaller proportions than the 
national criticism today accords it. The ev'er-scrupu- 
lous, ever-truthful Verissimo, who does not join the gen- 
eral chorus of uncritical admiration of Castro Alves, in- 
dicates that even his strongest claim upon us — that of a 
singer of the slaves — is injured by an evident exaggera- 
tion. What might be called Alves's "Africanism" is 
thus condemned of untruth to artistic as well as to quoti- 
dian reality, in much the same manner as was the "In- 
dianism" in the poetry of Gongalves Dias. . . . "The 
lack of objective reality offends us and our taste, habitu- 
ated as we are to the reality of life transported to artistic 
representations. As I have already had occasion to ob- 
serve, Castro Alves's defect as a poet of the slaves is that 
he idealized the slave, removing him from reality, per- 
haps in greater degree than art permits, making him 
escape — which is evidently false — the inevitable degrada- 
tion of slavery. His slaves are Spartacuses or belong 
to the gallery of Hugo's Burgaves. Now, socially, slav- 


ery is hateful chiefly because of its degrading influence 
upon the human being reduced to it and by reaction upon 
the society that supports it." 

When Castro Alves prepared the Espumas Fluctuantes 
for pubhcation he already felt the hand of death upon 
him. In the short foreword that he wrote for the book 
— in a style that is poetry, though written as prose — he 
compared his verses to the floating spume of the ocean, 
whence the title of the book. "Oh spirits wandering 
over the earth! O sails bellying over the main! . . . 
You well know how ephemeral you are . . . passengers 
swallowed in dark space, or into dark oblivion. . . . 
And when — actors of the infinite — you disappear into 
the wings of the abyss, what Is left of you? ... A wake 
of spume . . . flowers lost amid the vast indifference of 
the ocean, — A handful of verses . . . spume floating 
upon the savage back of life! . . ." 

This mood, this language, this outlook, are more than 
half of the youngster that was Castro Alves. For the 
most part he is not original, either in form or idea; the 
majority of his verses seem to call for the rostrum and 
the madly moved audience. Yet more than fifty years 
after his death the numerous editions of his poems pro- 
vide that rostrum, and the majority of his literate coun- 
trymen form that audience. 

When his powers are at their highest, however, he 
achieves the true Hugoesque touch, as, for example, in the 
closing stanzas of the famous Voices from Africa, written 
In Sao Paulo on June 11, 1868: 

Christo! embalde morreste sobre um monte. . . . 
Teu sangue nao lavou da minha fronte 


A mancha original. 
Ainda hoje sao, por fado adverse, 
Meus filhos — alimaria do universe, 

Eu — pasto universal. 

Hoje em meu sangue a America se nutre: 
— Condor, que transformara-se em abutre, 

Ave de escravidao. 
Ella juntou-se as mais . . . irma traidora. 
Qual de Jose os vis irmaos, outr'ora, 

Venderam seu irmao! 

Basta, Senhor! De teu potente braqo 
Role atravez dos astros e do espago 

Perdao p'ra os crimes meus! 
Ha dous mil annos eu solugo um grito. . . . 
Escuta o brado meu la no infinito, 

Meu Deus! Senhor, meu Deus! . . .^ 

This poem is the EU EU lama sahachthani of the black 

It is matched for passionate eloquence by the lashing 
lines that form the finale of O Navio Negreiro; 

Existe um povo que a bandeira empresta 
P'ra cobrir tanta infamia e cobardia! . . . 

2 Christ! In vain you died upon a mountain. . . . Your blood did 
not erase the original spot upon my forehead. Even today, through ad- 
verse fate, my children are the cattle of the universe, and I — universal 
pasture. Today America feeds on my blood. — A condor transformed 
into a vulture, bird of slavery. She has joined the rest . . . treacherous 
sister! Like the base brothers of Joseph who in ancient days sold their 
brother. . . . Enough, O Lord. With your powerful arm send through 
the planets and through space pardon for my crimes! For two thousand 
years I have been wailing a cry. . . . Hear my call yonder in the in- 
finitCj my God, Lord my God ! 


E deixa a transformar-se nessa festa 

Em manto impuro de bacchante fria! . . . 

Meu Deus! meu Deus! mas que bandeira e esta, 

Que impudente na gavea tripudia? 

Silencio, Musa . . . chora, e chora tanto 

Que o pavilhao se lave no teu pranto! . . . 

Auri-verde pendao de minha terra, 
Que a briza do Brasil beija e balanga, 
Estandarte que a luz do sol encerra 
As promessas divinas da esperanga. . . . 
Tu que, da liberdade apos da guerra, 
Foste hastiado dos heroes na langa, 
Antes te houvessem roto na batalha. 
Que servires a um povo de mortalha ! . . . 

Fatalidade atroz que a mente esmaga! 

Extingue nesta bora o brigue immundo 

O trilho que Colombo abriu nas vagas, 

Como um iris no pelago prof undo! 

Mas e infamia de mais! . . . Da etherea plaga 

Levantai-vos, heroes do Novo Mundo! 

Andrade! arranca esse pendao dos ares! 

Colombo! fecha a porta dos teus mares! ^ 

* There exists a people who lends its flag to cover such infamy and 
cowardice ! . . . ^nd allows it to be transformed, in this feast, into 
the impure cloak of a heartless bacchante ! . . . My God ! my God ! 
but what flag is this that flutters impudently at the masthead? Silence, 
Muse . . . weep and weep so much that the banner will be bathed in 
your tears! . . . Green-gold banner of my country, kissed and blown 
by the breezes of Brazil, standard that enfolds in the light of the sun 
the divine promise of hope. . . . You who, after the war, was flown 
by the heroes at the head of their lances, rather had they shattered you 
in battle than that you should serve as a race's shroud ! . . . Horrible 
fatality that overwhelms the mind ! Let the path that Columbus opened 
in the waves like a rainbow in the immense deep, shatter in this hour 
the polluted ship! This infamy is too much! . . . From your ethereal 
realm, O heroes of the New World, arise! Andrade! Tear that ban- 
ner from the sky! Columbus! shut the gates of your sea! 


As Napoleon, before the pyramids, told his soldiers that 
forty centuries gazed down upon them, so Alves, in the 
opening poem of Os Escravos called O Seculo (The Cen- 
tury), invoking the names of liberty's heroes — Christ, 
Carnaris, Byron, Kossuth, Juarez, the Gracchi, Franklin 
— told the youth of his nation that from the heights of 
the Andes, vaster than plains or pyramids, there gazed 
down upon them "a thousand centuries." Even in num- 
bers he is true to the high-flown conceits of the condoreiro 
school; the raising of Napoleon's forty to the young Bra- 
zilian's thousand is indicative of the febrile passion that 
flamed in all his work. Castro Alves was a torch, not a 
poem. When he beholds visions of a republic (as in 
Pedro Ivo) , man himself becomes a condor, and liberty, 
like the poet's truth, though crushed to earth will rise 

Nao importa! A liberdade 

E como a hydra, o Antheu. 

Se no chao rola sem forgas, 

Mais forte do chao se ergueu. . . . 

Sao OS seus ossos sangrentos 

Gladios terriveis, sedentos. . . . 

E da cinza solta aos ventos 

Mais um Graccho appareceu ! . . . * 

This is not poetry that can be read for very long at 
a time. It is not poetry to which one returns in quest of 
mood, evocative beauty, or surrender to passion. It is 
the poetry of eloquence, with all the grandeur of true elo- 

* No matter! Liberty is like the hydi-a, or like Antheus. If, exhausted, 
it rolls in the dust, it rises stronger than ever from the earth. ... Its 
bleeding members are terrible, thirsting swords, and from the ashes 
cast upon the winds a new Gracchus arose ! 


quence and with many of the lesser qualities of oratory 
at its less inspiring level. Castro Alves, then, was hardly 
a poet of the first order. He sang, in pleasant strains, 
of love and longing; he whipped the nation's conscience 
with poems every line of which was a lash; some of his 
verses rise like a pungent incense from the altars where 
liberty's fire is kept burning; he was a youthful soul re- 
sponsive to every noble impulse. But his passion is too 
often spoiled by exaggeration, — the exaggeration of a 
temperament as well as a school that borrowed chiefly the 
externals of Hugo's genius. Nor is it the exaggeration 
of feeling; rather is it a forcing of idea and image, accent 
and antithesis, — the failings of the orator who sees his 
hearers before him and must have visible, audible token 
of their assent. 

So that, when all is said and done, the permanent con- 
tribution of Alves to Brazilian poetry Is small, consisting 
of a few love poems, several passionate outcries on be- 
half of a downtrodden race, and a group of stanzas var- 
iously celebrating libertarian ideas. All the rest we can 
forget in the intense appeal of the surviving lines. I 
know that this does not agree with the current accepta- 
tion of the poet in Brazil, where many look upon him as 
the national poet, but one can only speak one's honest 
convictions. With reference to Castro Alves, I admire 
the man in the poet more than the poet in the man. 



AD he been born in Europe and written, say, 
in French, Machado de Assis would perhaps 
be more than a name to-day — if he is that — to 
persons outside of his native country. As it is, he has 
become, but fourteen years after his death, so much a 
classic that many of his countrymen who will soon gaze 
upon his statue will surely have read scarcely a'line of his 
work. He was too human a spirit to be prisoned into a 
narrow circle of exclusively national interests, whence the 
cry from some critics that he was not a national creator; 
on the other hand, his peculiar blend of melancholy 
charm and bitter-sweet irony have been traced to the 
minghng of different bloods that makes Brazil so fertile 
a field for the study of miscegenation. His work, as we 
all may read it, is, from the testimony of the few 
who knew him intimately, a perfect mirror of the retir- 
ing personality. His life and labours raised the let- 
ters of his nation to a new dignity. Monuments to 
such as he are monuments to the loftier aspirations of 
those who raise them, for the great need no statues. 
Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis was born in Rio 
de Janeiro in 1839 ^"^ ^^^^ there in 1908; he came of 
poor parents and was early beset with difficulties, yet the 
very nature of the work he was forced to take up brought 



him into contact with the persons and the surroundings 
that were to suggest his real career. As a typesetter he 
met Hterature in the raw; at the meetings of literary men 
and in the book shop of Paulo Brito he began to feel the 
nature of his true calling. At twenty he commenced to 
write with the indifference and the prolixity of the 'pren- 
tice hand; comedies, tales, translations, poems — all was 
grist that came to his literary mill. His talent, though 
evident, was slow to develop; it could be seen that the 
youth had a gift for understanding the inner workings 
of the human soul and that by nature he was an ironist, 
yet his poetry, especially, lacked fire — it came from the 
head, not the heart. Take the man's work as a whole, 
for that matter, and the same observation holds generally 
true. He is not of the sort that dissolves into ecstasies 
before a wonderful sunset or rises to the empyrean on 
the wings of song; for such self-abandonment he is too 
critical, too self-conscious. In him, then, as a poet 
we are not to seek for passion; in his tales we must not 
hunt too eagerly for action; in his novels (let us call them 
such) we are not to hope for adventure, intrigue, climax. 
Machado de Assis is, as far as a man may be, sui generis, 
a literary law unto himself. His best productions, which 
range over thirty years of mature activity, reveal an 
eclectic spirit in whom something of classic repose bal- 
ances his innate pessimism. It has been written of him 
that he was "a man of half tints, of half words, of half 
ideas, of half systems. . . ." Such an estimate, if it be 
purged of any derogatory insinuations, is, on the whole, 
iust; if Machado de Assis seems to miss real greatness, 
it Is because of something inherently balanced in his 
make-up; he is never himself carried away, and therefore 


neither are we. Yet he belongs to a company none too 
numerous, and when Anatole France, some years ago, pre- 
sided at a meeting held in France to honour the noted \ 
Brazihan, he must have appeared to more than one in 
the audience as a peculiarly fitting symbol of the spirit 
that informed the departed man's work.^ 

Not that Machado de Assis was an Anatole France, 
as some would insinuate. But he was not unworthy of 
that master's companionship; his outlook was more cir- 
cumscribed than the Frenchman's, as was his environ- 
ment; his garden, then, was smaller, but he cultivated it; 
his glass was Httle, like that of another famous French- 
man, but he drank out of his own glass. 

The poetry of Machado de Assis appears In four col- 
lections, all of which go to make up a book of moderate 
size. And, if the truth is to be told, their worth is about 
as moderate as their size. If critics have found him, in 
his verse, very correct and somewhat cold; if they have 
pointed out that he lacked a vivid imagination, suffered 
from a limited vocabulary, was indifferent to nature, and 
thus deficient in description, they have but spoken what 

iThe occasion was the Fete de I'InteUectualite Bresilennc, celebrated 
on April 3, 1909, at the Sorbonne in the Richelieu amphitheatre. Ana- 
tole France delivered a short, characteristic speech upon Le Genie Latin, 
emphasizing his disbelief in the idea of race. "Je dis le genie latin, je 
dis les peuples latins, parce que I'idee de race n'est le plus souvent qu'une 
vision de I'orgueil et de I'erreur, et parce que la civilization hellenique 
et romaine, comme la Jerusalem nouvelle, a vu venir de toutes parts 
a elle des enfants qu'elle n'avait point portes dans son sein. Et c'est 
sa gloire de gagner I'univers. . . . Latins des deux mondes, soyons 
fiers de notre commun heritage. Mais sachons le partager avec I'univers 
entier; sachons que la beaute antique, Teternelle Helene, plus auguste, 
plus chaste d'enlevement en enlevement, a pour destinee de se donner 
a des ravisseurs etrangers, et d'enfanter dans toutes les races, sous tons 
les cliraats de nouveaux Euphorions, toujours plus savants et plus beaux." 


is evident from a reading of the lines. This is not to 
say that a poem here and there has not become part of 
the national memory — as, for example, the well-known 
Circiilo Vicioso (Vicious Circle) and Mosca Azul (The 
Blue Fly) — verses of a broadly moralistic significance 
and of httle originality. His Chrysalides, the first col- 
lection, dates back to 1864; already his muse appears as 
a lady desirous of tranquillity (and this at the age of 
twenty-five!) while in the poem Erro he makes the tell- 
tale declaration: 

Amei-te um dia 
Com esse amor passage! ro 
Que nasce na phantasia 
E nao chega ao coracao. 

"I loved you one day with that transient love which 
is born in the imagination and does not reach the heart." 
There you have the type of love that appears in his po- 
etry; and there you have one of the reasons why the man 
is so much more successful as a psychological ironist in 
his novels than as a poet. Yet close study would show 
that at times this tranquillity, far from being always the 
absence of torment, is the result of neutralizing forces; 
it is like the revolving disk of primary hues that seems 
white in the rapidity of its whirling. 

These early poems dwelt upon such love; upon a 
desire for justice, as revealed in his Epitaphio do Mexico 
(Mexico's Epitaph) and Polonia (Poland) ; upon an el- 
egiac note that seems statement ratheri than feeling. 
"Like a pelican of love," he writes in one of his poems 
that recalls the famous image of de Musset, "I will rend 
my breast and nurture my offspring with my own blood; 


my offspring: desire, chimera, hope. . . ." But read 
through the verses of Chrysalides and it is hard to find 
where any red blood flows. The vocabulary is small, 
the phrases are trite; his very muse is named Musa 
^Consolatrix, bringing solace rather than agitated emo- 

Phalenas (Moths, 1870) is more varied; the collec- 
tion shows a sense of humour, a feeling for the exotic, as 
in the quasi-Chinese poems, which are of a delicate pallor. 
But there is little new in his admonitions to cull the flower 
ere it fade, and his love poetry would insult a sensitive 
maiden with its self-understanding substratum of com- 
mentary. His reserve is simply too great to permit out- 
bursts and like the worshipper of whom he speaks in his 
Lagrimas de Cera, he "did not shed a single" tear. She 
had faith, the flame to burn — but what she could not do 
was weep." ^ He is altogether too frequently the self- 
observer rather than the self-giver; nor would this be 
objectionable, if out of that autoscopy emerged some- 
thing vital and communicable to the introspective spirit 
in us all. He can sing of seizing the flower ere it fades 
away, yet how frequently does he himself seize it? 
There is humour in the ninety-seven octaves of Pallida 
Elvira, — a queer performance, indeed, in which a thin 
comic vein blends imperfectly with a trite philosophic 
plot. Romantic love, the satiety of Hector, the aban- 
donment of Elvira, the world-wanderings of the runaway, 
his vain pursuit of glory and his return too late, to find 

2 "I do not like tears," he says, in his last novel. Memorial de Ayres, 
"even in the eyes of women, whether or not they be pretty; they are 
jconfessions of weakness, and I was born with an abhorrence for the 



a child left by the dead Elvira, the obduracy of grand- 
father Antero; such is the scheme. Hector, thus cheated, 
jumps into the sea, which he might well have done before 
the poem began. 

More successful is Uma Oda de Anacreonte, a one-act 
play in verse, in which is portrayed the power of money 
over the sway of love. Cleon, confiding, amorous youth 
ihat he is, is disillusioned by both love (Myrto) and 
friendship (Lysias). There is a didactic tint to the 
piece, which is informed with the author's characteristic 
irony, cynicism, brooding reflection and resigned accep- 
tation. Of truly dramatic value — and by that phrase I 
mean not so much the conventional stageworthiness of 
the drama's technicians as a captivating reality born of 
the people themselves — there is very little. 

In Americanas (1875) the poet goes to the native 
scenes and legends for inspiration; Potyra — recount- 
ing the plight of a Christian captive who, rather than be- 
tray her husband by wedding a Tamoyo chief, accepts 
death at the heathen's hands — is a cold, objective presen- 
tation, unwarmed by figures of speech, not illuminated by 
any inner light; Niani, a Guaycuru legend, is far better 
stuff, more human, more vivid, in ballad style as opposed 
to the halting blank verse of the former; for the most 
part, the collection consists of external narrative — feel- 
ing, insight, passion are sacrificed to arid reticence. 

Thus A Chris td Nova (The Converted Jewess) con- 
tains few ideas; neither colour nor passion, vision nor 
fire, inhere in it. There is a sentimental fondness for the 
vanquished races — a note so common in the "Indian" 
age of Brazilian letters, and in analogous writings of the 
Spanish-Americans, as to have become a convention. The 


poem tells the story of a converted Jewess who is be- 
trothed to a soldier. She is met by her betrothed after 
the war, with her father in the toils of the Inquisition. 
Rather than remain with her lover, she chooses to die 
with her parent; father and daughter go to their end 
together. Chiefly dry narrative, and perhaps better than 
Potyra, though that is negative praise. The poem is 
commmendable for but two poetic cases : one, a very 
successful terza rima version of the song of exile in the 
Bible, "By the waters of Babylon sat we down and 
wept . . ." and the other, a simple simile: 

. . . .o pensamento 
E como as aves passageiras: voa 
A buscar melhor clima. ... 

.... Thought 
Is like a bird of passage, ever winging 
In quest of fairer climes. . . . 

It is in the Occidentaes of 1900 that we find more of 
the real Machado de Assis than in the series that pre- 
ceded it. The ripened man now speaks from a pulsing 
heart. Not that any of these verses leap into flame, as 
in the sonorous, incendiary strophes of Bilac, but at least 
the thoughts live in the words that body them forth and 
technical skill revels in its power. Here the essence of 
his attitude toward life appears — that life which, rather 
than death, is the corroding force', the universal and ubi- 
quitous element. The Mosca Azid is almost an epitome 
of his outlook, revealing as it does his tender irony, his 
human pity, his repressed sensuality, his feeling for form, 
his disillusioned comprehension of illusions. His resigned 
acceptance of life's decline is characteristic of the man — 


part, perhaps, of his balanced outlook. One misses in 
him the rebel — the note that lends greatness to the hero 
in his foreordained defeat, raising the drama of surren- 
der to the tragedy of the unconquered victim. But this 
would be asking him to be some one else — an Inartistic 
request which we must withhold. 

I give the Mosca Azul entire, because of its central 
importance to the poetry of the man, as well as to that 
more discerning outlook upon life which is to be found in 
his prose works. 

Era uma mosca azul, azas de ouro e granada, 

Filha da China ou da Indostao, 
Que entre as folhas brotou de uma rosa encarnada 

Em certa noite de verao. 

E zumbia e voava, e voava, e zumbia, 

Refulgindo ao clarao do sol 
E da lua, — melhor do que refulgia 

Um brilhante do Grao-Mogol. 

Um polea que a viu, espantado e tristonho, 

Um polea Ihe perguntou: 
"Mosca, esse refulgir, que mais parece um sonho, 

Dize, quem foi que t'o ensinou ?" 

Entao ella, voando, e revoando, disse: 

"Eu sou a vida, eu sou a flor 
Das gragas, o padrao da eterna meninice, 

E mais a gloria, e mais o amor." 

E elle deixou-se estar a contemplal-a, mudo, 

E tranquillo, como un fakir, 
Como alguem que ficou deslumbrado de tudo, 

Sem comparar, nem reflectir. 


Entre as azas do insecto, a voltear no espago, 

Uma cousa Ihe pareceu 
Que surdia com todo o resplendor de um pago 

E viu um rosto, que era o seu. 

Era elle, era um rei, o rei de Cachemira, 

Que tinha sobre o collo nu, 
Um immenso collar de opala, e uma saphyra 

Tirado ao corpo de Vischnu. 

Cem mulheres em flor, cem nayras superfinas, 

Aos pes delle, no liso chao, 
Espreguigam sorrindo as suas gragas finas, 

E todo o amor que tem Ihe dao. 

Mudos, graves, de pe, cem ethiopes feios, 
Com grandes leques de avestruz, 

Refrescam-lhes de manso os aromados seios, 
Voluptuosamente nus. 

Vinha a gloria depois — quatorze reis vencidos, 

E emfim as pareas triumphaes 
De tresentas nacoes, e os parabens unidos 

Das coroas occidentaes. 

Mas o melhor de tudo e que no rosto aberto 

Das mulheres e dos varoes, 
Como em agua que deixa o fundo descuberto, 

Via limpos os coragoes. 

Entao elle, estendo a mao calloso y tosca, 

Affeita a so carpintejar, 
Com um gesto pegou na fulgurante mosca, 

Curioso de examinar. 

Quiz vel-a, quiz saber a causa do mysterio. 
E fechando-a na mao, sorriu 


De contente, ao pensar que alii tinha um imperio, 
E para casa se partiu. 

Alvorogado chega, examina, e parece 

Que se houve nessa occupagao 
Mudamente, como um homem que quizesse 

Dissecar a sua illusao. 

Dissecou-a, a tal ponte, e com tal arte, que ella, 

Rota, baca, nojenta, vil, 
Succumbiu ; e com isto esvaiu-se-lhe aquella 

Visao fantastica e subtil. 

Hoje, quando elle ahi vae, de aloe e cardamono, 

Na cabeqa, com ar taful, 
Dizem que ensandeceu, e que nao sabe como 

Perdeu a sua mosca azul.^ 

3 It was a blue fly, with wings of gold and carmine, daughter of 
China or of Hindustan, who was born on a certain summer's night amid 
the petals of a red, red rose. And she buzzed and flew, and flew and 
buzzed, glittering in the light of the sun and the moon — brighter than 
a gem of the Grand Mogul. A humble toiler saw her, and was struck 
with amazement and sadness. A humble toiler, asking: "Fly, this glitter 
that seems rather a dream, say, who taught it to you?" Then she, flying 
around and about, replied: "I am life, I am the flower of grace, the 
paragon of earthly youth, — I am glory, I am love." And he stood there, 
contemplating her, wrapt like a fakir, like one utterly dazed beyond 
power of comparison or reflection. Between the wings of the insect, as 
she flew in space, appeared something that rose with all the splendour of 
a palace, and he beheld a face that was his own. It was he, — he was 
a king, — the king of Cashmire, who wore upon his bare neck a huge 
necklace of opals, and a sapphire taken from the body of Vishnu. One 
hundred radiant women, a hundred exquisite nayras, smilingly dis- 
play their rare graces at his feet upon the polished floor, and all the 
love they have they give to him. Mute, gravely on foot, a hundred 
ugly Ethiopians, with large ostrich fans, refresh their perfumed breasts, 
voluptuously nude. Then came glory, — forty conquered kings, and at 
last the triumphal tribute of three hundred nations, and the united feli- 
citations of western crowns. But best of all is, that in the open face 
of the women and the men, as in water that shows the clear bottom, he 
saw into their hearts. Then he, extending his callous, rough hand that 
was accustomed only to carpentry, seized the glittering fly, curious to 


As one reads this, a fable comes to mind out of child- 
hood days. What is this poem of the fly, but the tale of 
the man who killed the goose that laid the golden eggs, 
retold in verses admirable for colour, freshness, — for 
everything, indeed, except originality and feeling? 
Those critics are right who find in Machado de Assis a 
certain homiletic preoccupation; but he is never the 
preacher, and his light is cast not upon narrow dogmas, 
with which he had nothing to do, but upon the broad ethi- 
cal implications of every life that seeks to bring something 
like order into the chaos we call existence, — a thing 
without rhyme or reason, as he would have agreed, but 
what would you? Every game has its rules, even 
the game of hide and seek. And if rules are made to 
be broken, part of the game is in the making of 

Companioning the search for roots of illusion is the 
theme of eternal dissatisfaction. This Machado de 
Assis has put into one of the most quoted of Brazilian 
sonnets, which he calls Circulo Vicioso (Vicious Circle) : 

Bailando no ar, gemia inquieto vagalume: 
— "Quern me dera que fosse aquella loura estrella 
Que arde no eterno azul, como una eterna vela!" 
Mas a estrella, fitando a lua, com ciume: 

examine it. He wished to see it, to discover the cause of the mystery, 
and closing his fist around it, smiled with contentment to think that he 
held there an empire. He left for home. He arrives in excitement, ex- 
amines and his mute behaviour is that of a man about to dissect his illu- 
sion. He dissected it, to such a point, and with such art, that the fly, 
broken, repellent, succumbed ; and at this there vanished that fantastic, 
subtle vision. Today, when he passes, anointed with aloes and carda- 
mom, with an affected air, they say that he went crazy, and that 
he doesn't known how he lost his blue fly. 


— "Pudesse eu copiar o transparente lume, 
Que, de grega columna a gothica janella, 
Contemplou, suspirosa, a fronte amada e bella!" 
Mas a lua, fitando o sol, com azedume: 

— "Misera! tiVesse eu aquelle enorme, aquella 
Claridade immortal, que toda a luz resume!" 
Mas sol, inclinando a rutila capella: 

— "Pesa-me esta brilhante aureola de nume. . . . 
Enfara-me esta azul e desmedida umbella. . . . 
Porque nao nasci eu um simples vagalume?" ^ 

Between the loss of illusion and eternal dissatisfaction 
lies the luring desert of introspection; here men ask. ques- 
tions that send back silence as the wisest answer, or words 
that are more quiet than silence and about as informing. 
The poet's tribute to Arthur de Oliveira is really a des- 
cription — particularly in the closing lines — of himself. 
"You will laugh, not with the ancient laughter, long and 
powerful, — the laughter of an eternal friendly youth, but 
with another, a bitter laughter, like the laughter of an 
ailing god, who wearies of divinity and who, too, longs 
for an end. . . ." This world-weariness runs all through 
Machado de AssIs; it is one of the mainsprings of his 
remarkable prose works. It Is no vain paradox to say 

* Dancing in the air, a restless glow-worm wailed, "Oh, that I might 
be that radiant star which burns in the eternal blue, like a perpetual 
candle!" But the star: "Oh, that I might copy the transparent light 
that, at the gothic window of a Greek column the beloved, beautiful one 
sighingly contemplated!" But the moon, gazing at the sun, peevishly: 
"Wretched I ! Would that I had that vast, undying refulgence which 
resumes all light in itself!" But the sun, bowing its rutilant crown: 
"This brilliant heavenly aureole wearies me. ... I am burdened by 
this vast blue canopy. . . . Why was I not born a simple glow-worm? 


that the real poet Machado de Assis Is in his prose, 
for in his prose alone do the fruits of his imagination 
come to maturity; only in his better tales and the strange 
books he called novels does his rare personality reach 
a rounded fulfilment. Peculiarly enough, the man is in 
his poetry, the artist in his prose. The one is as revel- 
atory of his ethical outlook as the other of his es- 
thetic intuitions. What he thinks, as distinct from 
what he feels, is in his verse rather than in his novels 
or tales. 

He was haunted, it seems, by the symbol of a Prome- 
theus wearied of his immortality of anguish, — by the te- 
dium vitae. This world-weariness appears in the very 
reticence of his style. He writes, at times, as if it were 
one of the vanities of vanities, yet one feels that a cer- 
tain inner pride lay behind this outer timidity. His 
method is the most leisurely of indirection, — not the in- 
volved indirection of a Conrad, nor the circuitous adum- 
bration of a Hamsun. He has been compared, for his 
humourism, to the Englishman Sterne, and there is a basis 
for the comparison if we remove all connotation of ri- 
baldry and retain only the fruitful rambling. Machado 
de Assis is the essence of charming sobriety, of slily smil- 
ing half-speech. He is something like his own Ahasverus 
in the conte Viver! , withdrawn from life not so much be- 
cause he hated it as because he loved it exceedingly. 

In that admirable dialogue, wherein Prometheus ap- 
pears as a vision before the Wandering Jew, the tedium 
of existence is compressed into a few brief pages. 

We have come to the end of time and Ahasverus, seated 


upon a rock, gazes for a long while upon the horizon, 
athwart which wing two eagles, crossing each other in 
their path. The day is waning. 


I have come to the end of time; this is the threshold 
of eternity. The earth is deserted; no other man 
breathes the air of life. I am the last; I can die. Die! 
Precious thought! For centuries I have lived, wearied, 
mortified, wandering ever, but now the centuries are com- 
ing to an end, and I shall die with them. Ancient na- 
ture, farewell ! Azure sky, clouds ever reborn, roses of 
a day and of every day, perennial waters, hostile earth 
that never would devour my bones, farewell! The eter- 
nal wanderer will wander no longer. God may pardon 
me if He wishes, but death will console me. That moun- 
tain is as unyielding as my grief; those eagles that fly 
yonder must be as famished as my despair. 

Whereupon Prometheus appears and the two great 
symbols of human suffering debate upon the life ever- 
lasting. The crime of the Wandering Jew was great, 
Prometheus admits, but his was a lenient punishment. 
Other men read but a chapter of life, while Ahasverus 
read the whole book. "What does one chapter know of 
the other? Nothing. But he who has read them all, 
connects them and concludes. Are there melancholy 
pages? There are merry and happy ones, too. Tragic 
convulsion precedes that of laughter; life burgeons from 
death; swans and swallows change climate, without ever 
abandoning it entirely; and thus all is harmonized and 


begun anew." But Ahasverus, continuing the tale of his 
wanderings, expresses the meaninglessness of immor- 

I left Jerusalem. I began my wandering through the 
ages. I journeyed everywhere, whatever the race, the 
creed, the tongue; suns and snows, barbarous and civil- 
ized peoples, islands, continents; wherever a man 
breathed, there breathed I. I never laboured. Labour 
is a refuge, and that refuge was denied me. Every 
morning I found upon me the necessary money for the 
day. . . . See; this is the last apportionment. Go, for 
I need you no longer. {He draws forth the money and 
throws it away.) I did not work; I just journeyed, ever 
and ever, one day after another, year after year unend- 
ingly, century after century. Eternal justice knew what 
it was doing: it added Idleness to eternity. One genera- 
tion bequeathed me to the other. The languages, as 
they died, preserved my name like a fossil. With the 
passing of time all was forgotten; the heroes faded Into 
myths. Into shadow, and history crumbled to fragments, 
only two or three vague, remote characteristics remain- 
ing to It. And I saw them In changing aspect. You 
spoke of a chapter? Happy are those who read only 
one chapter of life. Those who depart at the birth of 
empires bear with them the Impression of their per- 
petuity; those who die at their fall, are burled in the hope 
of their restoration; but do you not realize what It Is to 
see the same things unceasingly, — the same alternation 
of prosperity and desolation, desolation and prosperity, 
eternal obsequies and eternal halleluiahs, dawn upon 
dawn, sunset upon sunset? 



But you did not suffer, I believe. It is something not 
to suffer. 


Yes, but I saw other men suffer, and in the end the 
spectacle of joy gave me the same sensations as the dis- 
courses of an idiot. Fatalities of flesh and blood, un- 
ending strife, — I saw all pass before my eyes, until night 
caused me to lose my taste for day, and now I cannot dis- 
tinguish flowers from thistles. Everything is confused 
in my weary retina. 

As Prometheus is but a vision, he is in reality identical 
with Ahasverus; and as Ahasverus here speaks, accord- 
ing to our interpretation, for Machado de Assis, so too 
does Prometheus. Particularly when he utters such senti- 
ments as "The description of life is not worth the sensa- 
tion of life." Yet in Machado de Assis, description and 
sensation are fairly one; like so many ironists, he has a 
mistrust of feeling. The close of the dialogue is a strik- 
ing commentary upon the retiring duality of the writer. 
Ahasverus, in his vision, is loosening the fetters of Prome- 
theus, and the Greek addresses him: 

Loosen them, new Hercules, last man of the old world, who 
shall be the first of the new. Such is your destiny; neither you 
nor I, — nobody can alter it. You go farther than your Moses. 
From the top of Mount Nebo, at the point of death, he beheld 
the land of Jericho, which was to belong to his descendants and 
the Lord said unto him: "Thou hast seen with thine eyes, yet 
shalt not pass beyond." You shall pass beyond, Ahasverus; you 
shall dwell in Jericho. 


Place your hand upon my head ; look well at me ; fill me with 
the reality of your prediction; let me breathe a little of the new, 
full life . . . King, did you say? 

The chosen king of a chosen people. 

It is not too much in recompense for the deep ignominy in 
which I have dwelt. Where one life heaped mire, another life 
will place a halo. Speak, speak on . . . speak on . . . {He 
continues to dream. The tivo eagles draw near.) 

First Eagle 
Ay, ay, ay ! Alas for this last man ; he is dying, yet he dreams 
of life. 

Second Eagle 
Not so much that he hated it as that he loved it so much.^ 

So much for the weariness of the superhuman, — an 
attitude matched among us more common mortals by 
such a delirium as occurs in a famous passage of Mach- 
ado de Assis's Braz Cuhas, one of the mature works of 
which Dom Casmiirro is by many held to be the best. 
What shall we say of the plots of these novels? In 
reality, the plots do not exist. They are the slenderest 
of strings upon which the master stylist hangs the pearls 
of his wisdom. And such a wisdom! Not the maxims 
of a Solomon, nor the pompous nothings of the profes- 
sional moralist. Seeming by-products of the narrative, 
they form its essence. To read Machado de Assis's 

^ The excerpts from Vwer/ and Infermeiro are taken from my 
Brazilian Tales, Boston, 1921. 


central novels for their tale is the vainest of pursuits. 
He is not interested in goals; the road is his pleasure, and 
he pauses wherever he lists, indulging the most whimsical 
conceits. For this Brazilian is a master of the whimsy 
that is instinct with a sense of man's futility. 

Here, for example, is almost the whole of Chapter 
XVII of Dom Casmiirro. What has it to do with the 
love story of the hero and Capitu? Nothing. It could 
be removed, like any number of passages from Machado 
de Assis's chief labours, without destroying the mere tale. 
Yet it is precisely these passages that are the soul of the 
man's work. 

The chapter is entitled The Worms {Os Vermes). 

". . . When, later, I came to know that the lance 
of Achilles also cured a wound that it inflicted, I con- 
ceived certain desires to write a disquisition upon the sub- 
ject. I went as far as to approach old books, dead 
books, buried books, to open them, compare them, plumb- 
ing the text and the sense, so as to find the common 
origin of J^agan oracle and Israelite thought. I seized 
upon the very worms of the books, that they might tell 
me what there was in the texts they gnawed. 

" 'My dear sir,' replied a long, fat bookworm, 'we 
know absolutely nothing about the texts that we gnaw, 
nor do we choose what we gnaw, nor do we love or de- 
test what we gnaw; we simply go on gnawing.' 

"And that was all I got out of him. All the others, 
as if they had agreed upon it, repeated the same song. 
Perhaps this discreet silence upon the texts they gnawed 
was itself another manner still of gnawing the gnawed." 

This is more than a commentary upon books; it is, in 


little, a philosophical attitude toward life, and, so far 
as one may judge from his works, it was Machado de 
Assis's attitude. He was a kindly sceptic; for that 
matter, look through the history of scepticism, and see 
whether, as a lot, the sceptics are not much more kindly 
than their supposedly sweeter-tempered brothers who 
dwell in the everlasting grace of life's certainties. 

Machado de Assis was not too hopeful of human 
nature. One of his most noted tales, O Infermeiro 
(The Nurse or Attendant) is a miniature masterpiece of 
irony in which man's self-deception in the face of his own 
advantages is brought out with that charm-in-power which 
is not the least of the Brazilian's qualities. 

A man has hired out as nurse to a testy old invalid, 
who has changed one after the other all the attendants 
he has engaged. The nurse seems more fortunate 
than the rest, though matters rapidly approach a climax, 
until "on the evening of the 24th of August the colonel 
had a violent attack of anger; he struck me, he called me 
the vilest names, he threatened to shoot me; finally he 
threw in my face a plate of porridge that was too cold 
for him. The plate struck the wall and broke into a 
thousand fragments. 

" 'You'll pay me for it, you thief!' he bellowed. 

"For a long time he grumbled. Towards eleven o'clock 
he gradually fell asleep. While he slept I took a book 
out of my pocket, a translation of an old d'Alancourt 
novel which I had found lying about, and began to read it 
in his room, at a small distance from his bed. I was to 
wake him at midnight to give him his medicine; but, 
whether it was due to fatigue or to the influence of the 


book, I, too, before reaching the second page, fell asleep. 
The cries of the colonel awoke me with a start; in an in- 
stant I was up. He, apparently in a delirium, continued 
to utter the same cries; finally he seized his water-bottle 
and threw it at my face. I could not get out of the way 
in time; the bottle hit me in the left cheek, and the pain 
was so acute that I almost lost consciousness. With a 
leap I rushed upon the invalid; I tightened my hands 
around his neck; he struggled several moments; I 
strangled him. 

"When I beheld that he no longer breathed, I stepped 
back in terror. I cried out; but nobody heard me. 
Then, approaching the bed once more, I shook him so as 
to bring him back to life. It was too late; the aneurism 
had burst, and the colonel was dead. I went into the 
adjoining room, and for two hours I did not dare to re- 
turn. It is impossible for me to express all that I felt 
during that time. It was intense stupefaction, a kind of 
vague and vacant dehrlum. It seemed to me that I saw 
faces grinning on the walls ; I heard muffled voices. The 
cries of the victim, the cries uttered before the struggle 
and during its wild moments continued to reverberate 
within me, and the air, in whatever direction I turned, 
seemed to shake with convulsions. Do not imagine that 
I am inventing pictures or aiming at verbal style. I 
swear to you that I heard distinctly voices that were cry- 
ing at me: 'Murderer; Murderer!' " 

By one of the many ironies of fate, however, the testy 
colonel has left the attendant sole heir to his possessions; 
for the invalid has felt genuine appreciation, despite the 
anger to which he was subject. Note the effect upon the 


attendant, whose conscience at first has troubled him 

"Thus, by a strange irony of fate, all the colonel's 
wealth came into my hands. At first I thought of refus- 
ing the legacy. It seemed odious to take a sou of that 
inheritance; it seemed worse than the reward of a hired 
assassin. For three days this thought obsessed me; but 
more and more I was thrust against this consideration: 
that my refusal would not fail to awake suspicion. Fi- 
nally I settled upon a compromise; I would accept the in- 
heritance and would distribute it in small sums, secretly. 

"This was not merely scruple on my part, it was also 
the desire to redeem my crime by virtuous deeds; and it 
seemed the only way to recover my peace of- mind and 
feel that the accounts were straight." 

But possession is sweet, and before long the attendant 
changes his mind. 

"Several months had elapsed, and the idea of distribut- 
ing the inheritance in charity and pious donations was by 
no means so strong as it first had been; it even seemed 
to me that this would be sheer affectation. I revised my 
initial plan; I gave away several insignificant sums to the 
poor; I presented the village church with a few new orna- 
ments; I gave several thousand francs to the Sacred 
House of Mercy, etc. I did not forget to erect a monu- 
ment upon the colonel's grave — a very simple monument, 
all marble, the work of a Neapolitan sculptor who re- 
mained at Rio until 1866, and who has since died, I be- 
lieve, in Paraguay. 


"Years have gone by. My memory has become vague 
and unreliable. Sometimes I think of the colonel, but 
without feeling again the terrors of those early days. All 
the doctors to whom I have described his afflictions have 
been unanimous as regards the inevitable end in store 
for the invalid, and were indeed surprised that he should 
so long have resisted. It is just possible that I may have 
involuntarily exaggerated the description of his various 
symptoms; but the truth is that he was sure of sudden 
death, even had this fatality not occurred. . . . 

"Good-bye, my dear sir. If you deem these notes not 
totally devoid of value reward me for them with a mar- 
ble tomb, and place there for my epitaph this variant 
which I have made of the divine sermon on the mount : 

" 'Blessed are they who possess, for they shall be con- 
soled.' " 

I have ommitted mention of the earlier novels of 
Machado de Assis because they belong to a romantic 
epoch, and he was not of the stuff that makes real roman- 
tics.^ How could he be a genuine member of that school 
when every trait of his retiring personality rebelled 
against the abandonment to outspokenness implied in 
membership? He is as wary of extremes, as mistrustful 
of superlatives, as Jose Dias in Dom Casniurro is fond 
of them. "I wiped my eyes," relates the hero of that 
book, when apprised of his mother's illness, "since of all 
Jose Bias's words, but a single one remained in my 
heart: it was that gravissimo, (very serious). I saw 
afterward that he had meant to say only grave (serious) , 

6 See Part One of this book, Chapter V, §111, for the more romantic 
aspects of Machado de Assis. 


but the use of the superlative makes the mouth long, 
and through love of a sonorous sentence Jose Dias had 
increased my sadness. If you should find in this book 
any words belonging to the same family, let me know, 
gentle reader, that I may emend it in the second edition; 
there is nothing uglier than giving very long feet to 
very short ideas." If anything, his method follows the 
reverse order, that of giving short feet to long ideas. He 
never strains a thought or a situation. If he is sad, it 
is not the loud-mouthed melancholy of Byronic youth; 
neither is he the blatant cynic. He does not wave his 
hands and beat his breast in deep despair; he seems rather 
to sit brooding — not too deeply, for that would imply 
too great a concern with the silly world — by the banks of a 
lake in which the reflection of the clouds paints fantastic 
pictures upon the changing waters. 

The real Machado de Assis stands apart from all 
who have written prose in his country. Senhor Costa, 
in his admirable book upon the Brazilian novel, has 
sought to present his nation's chief novelist by means 
of an imagery drawn from Greek architecture; Aluizio 
Azevedo thus becomes the Doric column; Machado de 
Assis, the sober, elegant Ionian column; Graga Aranha, 
the Corinthian and Coelho Netto the composite. So- 
briety and elegance are surely the outstanding qualities 
of the noted writer. His art, according to Costa, is the 
secret of suggesting thoughts; this is what I have called 
his indirect method. 

Machado de Assis belongs with the original writers 
of the nineteenth century. His family is the family of 
Renan and Anatole France; he is their younger brother, 
but his features show the resemblance. 



IT was a favourite attitude of Verissimo's to treat of 
the author as the author appears In his work, rather 
than as he may be constructed from his biography 
and his milieu. Some of the national critics have referred 
to this as If it were a defect; it is, on the contrary, in con- 
sonance with the finest work now done in contemporary 
esthetic criticism and places Verissimo, In my opinion, at 
the head of all critics who have treated In Brazil of Bra- 
zilian letters. It is in precisely such a spirit that I shall 
try to present him to an alien audience, — doubly alien, 
shall I say? — In that criticism itself, wherever practised, 
is quite alien to the surroundings in which it Is produced. 
Verissimo was what the Spaniards call a raro; he was as 
little Brazilian, In any restrictive sense, as was Machado 
de Assls. A conscientious reading of the thousands of 
pages he left fails to reveal anything like a hard and fast 
formula for literary appreciation. He was an intellec- 
tual freeman, truly in a spiritual sense a citizen of the 
world. In a country where even the more Immediately 
rewarded types of creative endeavour were produced 
under the most adverse conditions, he exercised the least 
rewarded of literary professions; In a nation where the 
intellectual oligarchy was so small that every writer could 
have known his fellow scribe, — where the very language 



betrays one Into the empty compliment and a meaningless 
grandiloquence, — he served, and served with admirable 
scruple, gentility and wisdom, the cause of truth and 
beauty. His manner is, with rare interludes of righteous 
indignation, generally serene; his approach is first of all 
esthetic, with a certain allowance for social idealism that 
never degenerates into hollow optimism; his language, 
which certain Brazilians have seen fit to criticize for lack 
of stylistic amenities, is to one foreigner, at least, a source 
of constant charm for its simplicity, its directness, its 
usually unlaboured lucidity. 

And these various qualities seem but so many facets 
of the man's unostentatious personality. He was not, 
like Sylvio Romero, a nature compelled, out of some seem- 
ing inner necessity, to quarrel; his pages, indeed, are rest- 
ful even when most interesting and most alive with 
suggestion and stimulating thought. His Portuguese, 
surely, is not so beautiful as the Spanish of his twin- 
spirit of Uruguay, Jose Enrique Rodo, but there is some- 
thing in both these men that places them apart from their 
contemporaries who practised criticism. They were 
truly modern in the better sense of that word; they 
brought no sacrifices to the altar of novelty, of sensation, 
of an unreasoned, wholesale dumping of the past. They 
did not confuse modernity wth up-to-date-ness ; they did 
not go into ecstasies for the sake of enthusiasm itself. 
They would have been "modern" in any age, and per- 
haps for that very reason a certain classic repose hovers 
over their pages. Each knew his classics; each knew his 
moderns. But I doubt whether either ever gave him- 
self much concern over these really futile distinctions, — 


futile, that is, when mouthed merely as hard and fast 
differences, as if restless, "romantic" spirits did not 
exist among the ancients, and as if, today, no serene 
soul may dwell in his nook apart, watching the world roll 
on. Such a serenity lives in the pages of the Uruguayan 
and of the Brazilian; like all things born of human effort, 
they will lose as the years roll on, but something of per- 
manence is there because Verissimo, like Rodo, possessed 
the secret of seizing upon something universal in what- 
ever he chose to consider. 

That Europe, with its ancient culture, its aristocratic 
intellectual circles and its concentrated audiences, should 
have produced great critics, is not, after all, so much to 
be wondered at, — surely, hardly more to be marvelled 
at than the emergence of the great playwright, the great 
novelist. That the United States, in recent years, re- 
veals the promise of notable criticism, is somewhat more 
a cause for congratulation in that here we lack — or up to 
yesterday, lacked — inspiring intellectual leaders. But at 
least we possessed the paraphernalia, the apparatus, the 
national wealth. We had publishers, we had printing- 
presses, we had a generally literate populace, whatever 
the use to which the populace put those capabilities. Our 
young writers did not have to seek publishers abroad, 
whence alone could come likewise, literary consecration. 
That a Rodo should arise in Spanish America — and more 
than one notable critic had preceded him — or that a Veris- 
simo should appear in Brazil, is fairly a triumph of mind 
over matter. It is true that such an event would have been 
impossible without the influence — and the decided in- 
fluence — of European culture; but it is a triumph, none 


the less. And It Is the sort of triumph that comes from 
the sacrifice of material boons to values less tangible, yet 
more lasting. I do not mean that Verissimo went about 
deploring the humble position of the artist and the true 
critic in Brazil; I am a mite mistrustful of self-analytic 
martyrs, of whom we are not exempt In these United 
States. He exercised a deliberate choice. Much of his 
work first appeared in the newspapers, and this alone 
must stand as a tribute to the organs that printed his 
critiques. For the rest, his life and labours serve to 
prove that south of the Rio Grande, no less than north, 
economic materialism and the life of the spirit are at ever- 
lasting grips with each other, and that there are men 
(again on both sides of that stream) who are masters 
rather than slaves of the chattels they possess. 

He was not religious (remember that I am treating 
him as he treated his own subjects, — as he Is revealed In 
his writings) ; he was not intensely emotional; he looked 
love and death straight in the eyes, as much with curios- 
ity as with any Inner or outer trembling before either. 
He was, in his realm, what Machado de Assis was In his, 
— a spirit of the Limbo, shall we say? His motto, If 
he would have accepted the static connotation of mottoes, 
might have been Horace's medio tiitissimus ibis, only that 
he sought the middle path not so much through desire of 
safety as out of a certain philosophical conviction. But 
there again I use a word that does not harmonize with 
Verissimo's intellectual elasticity, for words are almost as 
hard and cold as the type that prints them, while thoughts 
rather resemble the air that takes them into space. And 
Verissimo is especially sensible to this permanence-In- 
translency. "As to permanence," he wrote In an interest- 


Ing essay on Que e Literatura^ (What is Literature?), 
"it might be said, in a sort of paradox, that it is precisely 
the transitoriness of the emotion that makes a book of 
lasting interest. It is an essential difference between 
knowledge and emotion that the first is lasting and the 
second transitory. A fact learned remains, is added to 
the sum of our knowledge. We may forget it, but such 
forgetting is not in the nature of things necessary, and 
the truths that are contained in a book of science that we 
have read join our permanent intellectual acquisitions. 
The emotions are by very nature fleeting, — they are not, 
like the facts we learn, added to and incorporated 
into one another; they are a series of experiences that 
change constantly. Within a few hours the emotion 
aroused by the reading of a poem is extinguished; it can- 
not endure. It may be renewed, by the re-reading of 
the poem or by resorting to memory, and, if it be a 
masterpiece, successive readings and recollection will not 
blunt its power to move us." 

He commits himself to no definite esthetic system, thus 
suggesting his affinities to the French impressionists and 
to that Jules Lemaitre whom he so much admired. "No 
meio nao esta so a virtude, mas a verdade," he writes; 
"not only virtue, but truth, lies in the middle." This, 
as I have said, is not a wish for the Horatian safety of 
the middle course, but rather an innate mistrust of ex- 
tremes. To the ancient apophthegm that there is noth- 
ing new under the sun — and it would be just as true to 

1 Many cultured Brazilians know English literature in the original. 
The essay here referred to was suggested to Verissimo by the book of a 
United States professor, Winchester, on Some Principles of Literary 


say that there is nothing old under it, or that all things 
under the sun are new — he composes a variant that might 
well stand as the description of the best in our newer 
criticism: "Nada ha de definitivo debaixo do Sol"; 
"there is nothing definitive under the sun." In United 
States criticism there is a lapidary phrase to match it, 
and from a spirit who, allowing for all the modifications 
of time, space and temperament, is kin to Verissimo. I 
refer to a brief sentence that occurs in the Introduction 
to Ludwig Lewisohn's A Modern Book of Criticism, in a 
paragraph devoted to demonstrating the futility of abso- 
lute standards, as represented in the important work of 
Paul Elmer More. . . . "Calmly oblivious of the crum- 
bling of every absolute ever invented by man," writes Mr. 
Lewisohn, "he (i. e., Mr. More) continues in his fierce 
and growing isolation to assert that he knows what 
human life ought to be and what kind of literature ought 
to be permitted to express its character. That a form of 
art or life exists and that it engages the whole hearts of 
men makes little difference to him. He knows. . . . And 
what does he know? Only, at bottom, his own tempera- 
mental tastes and impulses which he seeks to rationalize 
by an appeal to carefully selected and isolated tendencies 
in art and thought. And, having rationalized them by an 
artifice so fragile, he seeks to impose them upon the men 
and the artists of his own day in the form of laws. I 
know his reply so well. It is this, that if you abandon his 
method, you sink into universal scepticism and undiscrim- 
inate acceptance. The truth is that I believe far more 
than he does. For I love beauty in all its forms and find 
life tragic and worthy of my sympathy in every mani- 
festation. I need no hierarchical moral world for my 


dwelling-place, because I desire neither to judge nor to 
condemn. Fixed standards are useless to him zuhose 
central passion is to have men free. Mr. More needs 
them for the same inner reason — infinitely rarified and re- 
fined, of course, — for which they are necessary to the in- 
quisitor and the militant patriot. He wants to damn here- 
tics. ... I do not. His last refuge, like that of every 
absolutist at bay, would be in the corporate judgment of 
mankind. Yes, mankind has let the authoritarians im- 
pose upon it only too often. But their day is nearly 
over. . . . -^ 

This is one of the most important passages in con- 
temporary United States criticism, — doubly so because 
the men thus ranged against each other are both accom- 
plished scholars and thus rise to symbols of the inevitable 
contest between the intellect that dominates the emotions 
and the intellect that has discovered wisdom in guidance 
rather than domination. Verissimo was no Lewisohn; 
he possessed many of that critic's signal qualities, but in 
lesser degree. His language is not so instinct with hu- 
man warmth, his culture not so wide nor so deep, his 
perceptions not so keen; but he belongs in company of 
such rare spirits. He is as unusual amidst the welter of 
verbose opinions that passes for criticism in Spanish and 
Portuguese America as is Lewisohn amidst our own colder 
but equally vapid and empty reviewers and as was Rodo 
in the milieu that but half understood him. Neither 
^Rodo nor Verissimo, for that matter, had a firm grasp 
upon the budding intellectual life of these States; each 
died a trifle too early for the signs of hope that they 

^A Modern Book of Criticism, New York, 1919. Page iii. The italics 
are mine. 


would have been happy to discern. As It Is, they 
possessed the somewhat stencilled view of the United 
States as the country of the golden calf; a view none too 
false, more's the pity, but too "absolute" In the sense that 
we have just seen discussed. There Is, for all the truth 
in Rodo's famous Ariel, a certain half-concealed conde- 
scension that might not have appeared were that essay 
written today. ^ The younger Spanish Americans and 
Brazilians who have come north to study at our universi- 
ties and to acquaint themselves with the newer phases of 
our culture, have been quick to respond to such spirits as 
Van Wyck Brooks, Henry L. Mencken, Ludwig Lewlsohn, 
Joel Ellas Splngarn. During the next decade, as these 
young men rise to power in their own intellectual wprld, 
their books will doubtless reveal a different attitude to- 
ward the attainments of their Northern neighbours, — 
unless — and there Is always that unless, — political hap- 
penings should contort their views and our scant spiritual 
population should once again suffer, as so often in the 
past, for the misdoings of our diplomats. 

3 Mr. Havelock Ellis, writing in 1917 upon Rodo, (the article may be 
found in his book entitled The Philosophy of Conflict), expressed an 
opinion that comes pat to our present purpose. ". . . Rodo has 
perhaps attributed too fixed a character to North American 
civilization, and has hardly taken into account those germs of recent ex- 
pansion which may well bring the future development of the United 
States nearer to his ideals. It must be admitted, however, that if he 
had lived a few months longer Rodo might have seen confirmation in 
the swift thoroughness, even exceeding that of England, with which 
the United States on entering the war sought to suppress that toleration 
for freedom of thought and speech that he counted so precious, shouting 
with characteristic energy the battle-cry of all the belligerents, 'Hush! 
Don't think, only feel and act!' with a pathetic faith that the affectation 
of external uniformity means inward cohesion. . . . Still, Rodo 
himself recognised that, even as already manifested, the work of the 
United States is not entirely lost for what he would call the 'interests 
of the soul.'" 


Verissimo, then, is the critic-artist. The drum-beat of 
dogma that pounds over the pages of Sylvio Romero is 
never heard in his lines. Though he holds that art is a 
social function — a form indispensable to the existence 
of society — he realizes its individual import, without 
carrying his belief to the point of that mystifying esoter- 
ism so beloved of certain latter-day poets and dramatists. 

To him, criticism was an art, and, reduced to its essen- 
tial elements, is practised by any one who expresses an 
opinion or a feeling concerning a work of art. His mind 
was open to every wind of doctrine that blew, but this 
was hospitality rather than indiscrimination. "Let us 
not rebel against the new poetic tendencies," he wrote in 
a controversy with Medeiros e Albuquerque, "for we 
must understand that they are all natural, the result of 
poetry's very evolution. Let us not, on the other hand, 
accept them as universal and definitive. There is noth- 
ing definitive under the sun. . . . Schools, tendencies, 
fashions, pass. Poetry remains, invariable in its essence, 
despite the diversity of its form." 

It is possible, however, that the conditions under which 
he wrote prevented his work from attaining the heights 
that often it suggests. His Brazil needed a teacher rather 
than a critic, — a policeman of the arts, as it were, — and 
he had to supply the deficiency. Perhaps it is one's im- 
agination that detects in his lines a certain all-pervading 
sadness, — a sadness that seems sister to serenity. Only 
when stirred to just combat — as in his controversy with 
Sylvio Romero — does he abandon his unruffled demean- 
our, and even here he is more restrained than Sylvio could 
be in his moments of calm. Verissimo, — and again he 
suggests Rodo for a similar quality, — is ever a mite mel- 


ancholy. His thought and its expression at their best are 
like a beautiful landscape seen in the afterglow of sun- 
set; a sort of intellectual twilight, most natural to one 
who found truth and virtue in the middle. Yet is there 
much Truth and Virtue in Verissimo, — whoever that 
lady and gentleman may be? He sought to bring no 
eternal verities; his aim, like Rodo's, was to instil rather 
the love of truth than any specific truth itself. He is a 
dispassionate analyst. Hence his tolerance (another 
quality of the middle, it will be noted), his diffidence, his 
sincerity. After Verissimo, Brazilian criticism is con- 
fronted with new standards, — flexible, it is true, but all 
the more exigent. As Machado de Assis belongs to the 
company of Anatole France, so Verissimo belongs with 
Lemaitre. At a proper distance, to be sure, but within 
the circle of the elect. He was not deceived by theories, 
for he looked to the creation itself; neither was he de- 
ceived, and for the same reason, by men and women. 
By their works he knew them, as by his work we know 
him. It was his attitude as much as his accomplishment 
that made of him the national glory he has become. And 
no little of that glory is his because his sincerity tran- 
scended the narrower claims of nationalism, — a nation- 
alism in Brazil as elsewhere too often identical with 
unthinking pride, puerile boastfulness and the no- 
tions of whatever political party happens to be pre- 

With Sylvio Romero he shares pre-eminence as the 
foremost modern Brazilian critic of letters. A passing 
glance at the controversy between these contrasting per- 
sonalities will bring out not only their divergent quali- 


ties, but more than one sidelight on the problems of 
Brazilian culture and literature. I give it as it may be 
seen through Verissimo's eyes, because I think that he 
sums up the case with his characteristic sincerity and 

Romero's notable work, Historia da Uteratura hrasi- 
leira, was first published, in two volumes, in the year 
1888, and brought the history of the nation's letters 
down to the year 1870. A second edition appeared in 
1902-3, revised by the author. It was upon the appear- 
ance of this second edition that Verissimo estimated the 
qualities of the work in terms that should meet with the 
approval of all but the blindest of partisans. He noted 
not only its value as research, its solid qualities, but its 
contradictions, incoherencies and abuses of generaliza- 
tion as well. He called it "one of the most original, or 
at least personal, most suggestive, most copious (in opin- 
ions and ideas), most interesting" of books and noted, 
what the most superficial must note at once, the man's 
polemical temper. "The source of our literary history," 
he wrote, "is the Introduction by Varnhagen to his 
Florilegio of Brazilian poetry (Lisbon 1850, i and 11 
vols., Madrid, 1853, ^^O- It was he who laid in those 
pages the corner stone of the still unfinished edifice of our 
literature. . . . Wolf, Norberto Silva, Fernandes Pln- 
heiro and others merely followed his lead, and if they im- 
proved upon him, it was according to his indications. 
And, if not by its philosophic spirit and critical method, 
Sylvio Romero's Historia derives in its general design 
from the Introduction or Varnhagen. . . ." 

The review, short as it was, revealed Verissimo's In- 
tellectual contrast to Romero. He Is calm, even, logical, 


somewhat cold, clear, French, — while Romero is the 
born fighter, impassioned, rambling, eager to embrace his 
vast subject, crowding into his history a mass of names 
and works wholly without pertinence to the field, lacking 
in literary grace. 

In 1906 Verissimo was obliged to take up the subject 
once more, this time in less dispassionate terms, forced 
into a distasteful controversy when further silence would 
have been tantamount to cowardice. Romero, in that 
year, published together with Sr. Dr. Joao Ribeiro, a 
Compendio de historia da Uteratiira hrazileira in which 
Verissimo was acrimoniously attacked, "not only in my 
opinions as a critic, which does not offend me, nor in my 
qualities as a writer, which it would be ridiculous to en- 
ter the field and defend, but in my literary probity, which 
compels me to this refutation. . . . 

"Sylvio Romero cannot suffer — and this is a proof 
of a certain moral inferiority — contradiction and criti- 
cism, and must have unconditional admiration. . . ." 
The voluminious historian was vain. "It is an abso- 
lutely certain fact, and most easily verified, that in no 
country, in no literature, has any author quoted himself 
so much as ( I do not say more than) Sylvio Romero. 
. . . Despite the fact that there was never a break or 
even a difference in our relations, which for my part I 
prized and which he did not seem to disdain, I felt, de- 
spite his praise and his verbal animation — that of a mas- 
ter toward his pupil — that my poor literary production 
contended with his and therefore, in short, I was not 
agreeable to him. It was evident to me that there were 
two things that my friend could not pardon me for : my 
gmall esteem (small in relation to his) for Tobias Barreto 


and my great appreciation for a writer whose highly 
justified glory has for some time seemingly robbed the 
great critic of sleep." 

"I continue to maintain," wrote Verissimo, "and all the 
documents support me, that Varnhagen was the father 
of our literary history, principally of that history as it 
is conceived and realized by Sylvio Romero in his Histo- 
ria da literatiira brazileira, whose inspiration and econ- 
omy derive far more from the studies of Varnhagen than 
from the generalizations ... of Fernand Denis or 
Norberto Silva ... I know perfectly well . . . what 
was accomplished before him by Norberto Silva and Fer- 
nand Denis, Bouterwek and Sismondi, etc. . . . The 
oldest of these writers is the German Bouterwek. But I 
doubt whether Sylvio Romero ever read him. In fact 
this author concerns himself only in passing fashion with 
Brazilian literature. . . ." And in turn Verissimo takes 
up the work of Denis, Silva and other predecessors of 
Varnhagen, rectifying the position of the investigator 
whose merits have been so unjustly slighted by the dog- 
matic "Pontifex Maximus of Brazilian letters," as 
Romero was called by Eunapio Deiro. '^ 

"A disciple of the French through Sainte-Beuve and 
Brunetiere, and of the English through Macaulay," says 
Carvalho in his recent work upon Brazilian literature, 
"Verissimo was what might be called an objective critic. 
Versed in many literatures, even erudite, he lacked, in 
order to be a great writer, a finer taste for beautiful 
things, and likewise, the spirit, or rather, the fineness of 

4 For this discussion, which is of primary importance to students of 
Brazilian letters, see Verissimo's Estudos, 6a serie, pages 1-14, and his 
Que e Literatura, Rio de Janeiro, 1907, pages 230-293. 


understanding and sensibility. His Historia da Litera- 
tura Brazileira which is, we will not say a perfect, but 
an honest synthesis of our literary evolution, shows the 
primordial defect of its method, which was that of seek- 
ing the individual to the detriment of the milieu, the per- 
sonal work to the prejudice of the collective. Veris- 
simo, who possessed a direct observation that could ap- 
preciate isolated values keenly, lacked on the other hand 
a deep intuition of universal problems; he was content to 
point them out in passing; he did not enter into them, he 
circled prudently around them. . . ." ^ 

What Carvalho points out as a defect I consider Ver- 
issimo's chief contribution to Brazilian criticism, — his 
primary concern with the individual. True, this may 
lessen his value as a literary historian, but it makes of 
him one of the very few genuine esthetical critics that 
have appeared on this side of the Atlantic. It renders 
him easily superior to Romero and Carvalho, the latter 
of whom is much indebted to both Verissimo and Romero, 
as is every one who seeks to write of the nation's letters. 

Verissimo has put into a very short essay his general 
outlook upon Brazilian literature. It is instinct with the 
man's honesty of outlook, his directness of statement, 
his fidelity to fact, his dispassionate approach. For that 
reason I translate it almost entire as the best short com- 
mentary available. It is entitled O Que Falta a Nossa 
Literatura (What Our Literature Lacks). 

"What I know of American literature — and in truth 
It is very little — authorizes me to say that ours is perhaps 

^ Pequena Historia da Literatura Brasileira. aa Ed. Revista e aug- 
mentada. Rio, 1922. Pp. 344-345. 


the oldest of the continent. ^ From the literary stand- 
point our nationality seems to have preceded the other 
American nations. It is clear that I am not here insist- 
ing upon a strict question of date; it is possible that in 
Mexico, and even in Peru, — I haven't at hand the means 
for verifying the facts, — some writers may have arisen 
earlier than our own, poets necessarily. Chronology, 
in literature, however, though of considerable impor- 
tance, cannot alone serve to establish priority. A liter- 
ature is a grouping, and cannot in fact exist through a 
single poet or an isolated book, unless that poet or that 
book resume in eminent degree the entire thought or 
feeling of a people who is already in some manner con- 
scious of itself. This is the case of Homer, if that name 
stands for an individual. 

"Since the XVIIth century we reckon in our midst 
poets and prosers. This would prove that the necessity 
of reporting oneself, of defining oneself, — which creates 
literature, — already existed amongst us, no sooner than 
we were born. The work of Gabriel Soares may, and I 
believe should, be excluded from a history of Brazilian 
literature, because such a history can be only that of 
literature published and known in its day, — literature 
that could have influenced its time and those who came 
after. But it comprises part of a history of the civili- 
zation, thought and spiritual progress of Brazil, show- 
ing how already in that century a native of the country, 
sequestered upon his plantation in the sertao, not only 
possessed sufficient culture to write of matters pertaining 
to his country, but felt also the necessity of writing it 

6 This opinion he later rectified. 


down. It is certain that he was inspired likewise by in- 
terest and that his work is a memorial to the Sovereign, 
seeking personal concessions. But, on account of the 
thoroughness and the breadth with which it is done, and, 
above all, because of the general, disinterested spirit in 
which it is accomplished, — the variety of its aspects and 
the national breath that animates it, it far exceeds the 
nature of a simple memorial. In the same position are 
the Dialogues upon the Grandeurs of Brazil and their 
author, whoever he may be. Preoccupation with history 
is the surest token of a reflective national consciousness. 
This preoccupation awoke early in Brazil, and not only 
as a means of information with which the religious orders 
tried to instruct themselves concerning the lay of the 
land and to glorify themselves by publishing their own 
deeds, but also in this same more general, more disin- 
terested spirit. Frei Vicente do Salvador is thus early 
a national historian and not a simple religious chronicler. 

"Two things occur to produce this development in 
Brazilian literary expression, at the very beginning of 
civilization in this country: the vigor of literary expres- 
sion in Portugal and the Jesuit collegios. Whatever be 
the value of Portuguese literature, it is beyond dispute 
that no literature of the smaller peoples rivals it in 
wealth and variety. When Brazil was discovered, only 
a small part of Italy, France, Spain and Portugal pos- 
sessed a literary life. England was scarcely emerging 
into it, with the predecessors of Shakespeare, who had 
not yet been born and whose first works date from the 
end of the century. Germany, from the literary stand- 
point, did not exist. 

"Portugal, for already a century, had possessed a Ian- 


guage solidly constructed and policed, and in this respect 
the labor of Camoes is incomparably less than that of 
Dante. Portugal was in its golden age of literature, 
which already possessed chroniclers such as Fernao Lopes, 
novelists like Bernardim Ribeiro, historians like Joao de 
Barros, dramatists like Gil Vicente, poets such as those 
of the cancioneiros and a line of writers of all kinds 
dating back to the fourteenth century. Despite the rus- 
ticity of the people, Portugal, in the epoch of Brazil's 
colonization, is one of the four countries of Europe that 
may be called intellectual. The identification of the 
colony of Brazil with the mother-country seems to me 
one of the expressive facts of our history, and this iden- 
tification rendered easy the influence of Portuguese spirit- 
ual life upon a wild region, so that it was possible to 
obtain results which, given other feelings between the 
court and the colony, would not have been forthcoming. 
Since gold was not at once discovered here, and those 
mines that were discovered proved relatively few and 
poor, Brazilian life soon took on, from Reconcavo to 
Pernambuco, where it was first lived, and later in Rio 
Janeiro and even — though less — in S. Vicente, a modest 
manner, — what today we should call bourgeois, — more 
favourable to literary expression, to the leisure needed 
for writing, than the agitated, adventurous existence of 
the colonizers of mine lands. 

"The collegios of the Jesuits, established with higher 
studies as early as the XVIth century, and later — in imi- 
tation of them — the convents of the other religious or- 
ders, infiltrating Latin culture into the still half-savage 
colony, favoured the transmigration hither of the power- 
ful literary spirit of the metropolis. 


"Soon, then, perhaps sooner than any other American 
nation, and certainly sooner than, for example, the larg- 
est of them all, the United States, we had a literature, 
the written expression of our collective thought and feel- 
ing. Certainly this literature scarcely merits the name 
of Brazilian as a regional designation. It is Portuguese 
not only in tongue but in inspiration, sentiment, spirit. 
There might perhaps already exist, as in the author of 
the Dialogos das grandezas or in Gabriel Soares, a re- 
gional sentiment, the love of the native soil, a taste for 
its traits, but there was no national sentiment other 
than the selfsame Portuguese national sentiment. Even 
four centuries later, I hesitate to attribute to our litera- 
ture the qualification of Brazilian. . . . For I do. not 
know whether the existence of an entirely independent 
literature is possible without an entirely independent 
language as well. Language is the constituent element 
of literatures, from the fact that it is itself the expres- 
sion of what there is most intimate, most individual, most 
characteristic in a people. Only those peoples possess 
a literature of their own who possess a language of their 
own. In this sense, which seems to me the true one, 
there is no Austrian literature or Swiss or Belgian litera- 
ture, despite the existence in those peoples of a high cul- 
ture and notable writers in all fields. '^ 

"Therefore I consider Brazilian literature as a branch 
of the Portuguese, to which from time to time it returns 
by the ineluctable law of atavism, as we may see in the 
imitations of the literary movements in Portugal, or bet- 

■^ In Studies in Spanish-American Literature (pages 98-99) I have 
discussed briefly this attitude of Verissimo's. I do not believe the entire 
question to be of primary literary importance. It is the noun literature 
that is of chief interest; not the adjective of nationality that precedes it. 



ter still, in the eagerness — today almost universal in our 
writers — to write Portuguese purely, according to the 
classic models of the mother literature. This branch, 
upon which have been engrafted other elements, is al- 
ready distinguished from the central trunk by certain 
characteristics, but not in a manner to prevent one from 
seeing, at first glance, that it is the same tree slightly 
modified by transplantation to other climes. It is pos- 
sible that new graftings and the prolonged influence of 
milieu will tend to differentiate it even more, but so long 
as the language shall remain the same, it will be little 
more — as happens in the botanical families — than a 
variety of the species. 

"A variety, however, may be very Interesting; it may 
even be, in certain respects, more interesting than the 
principle type, acquiring in time and space qualities that 
raise it above the type. Brazilian literature, or at least 
poetry, was already in the XVIIth century superior to 
Portuguese. It is by no means patriotic presumption, 
which I lack completely, to judge that, with the develop- 
ment of Brazil, its probable politic and economic great- 
ness in the future will give to the literary expression of 
its life supremacy over Portugal, whose historic role 
seems over and which, from all appearances, will disap- 
pear In an Iberic union. If this country of ours does 
not come apart and split up into several others, each a 
'patria' with a dialect of its own, we shall prove true 
to the prophecies of Camoes and Fr. Luiz de Souza, be- 
coming the legitimate heirs of Portugal's language and 
literature. If such a thing should happen, it would give 
us an enormous moral superiority to the United States 
and the Spanish-American nations, making of us the only 


nation in America with a truly national language and 

"But this literature of ours, which, as a branch of the 
Portuguese already has existed for four centuries, pos- 
sesses neither perfect continuity, cohesion, nor the unity 
of the great literatures, — of the Portuguese, for exam- 
ple. The principal reason, to explain the phenomenon 
in a single word, is that it depended ever, in its earliest 
periods, rather upon Portugal and later upon Europe, 
France especially, than upon Brazil itself. It always 
lacked the principle of solidarity, which would seem to 
reveal lack of national sentiment. It always has lacked 
communicability, — that is, its writers, who were separ- 
ated by vast distances and extreme difficulty of communi- 
cation, remained strangers one to the other. And I 
refer not to personal communication, which is of sec- 
ondary importance, but to intellectual communication that 
is established through books. The various influences 
that can be noted in all our important literary move- 
ments are all external. What is called improperly the 
Mineira School of the XVIIIth century, and the Mar- 
anhao pleiade of the middle of this (the XlXth) re- 
ceived their inspiration from Portugal, but did not trans- 
mit it. As is said in military tactics, contact was never 
established between the writers or between their intellects. 

"This lack of contact continues today (Verissimo 
wrote the essay toward the end of the XlXth century) 
and is greater now than it was for example during the 
Romantic period. There was always lacking the trans- 
mitting element, the plastic mediator of national thought, 
a people sufficiently cultured to be interested in that 
thought, or, at least, ready to be influenced by it. In 
the construction of a literature the people plays simulta- 


neously a passive and an active role : it is in the people that 
the inspiration of poet and thinker has its source and its 
goal. Neither the one nor the other can abstract him- 
self, for both form an integral part of the people. Per- 
haps only during our Romantic period, from 1835 to 
i860, may it be said that this condition of communica- 
bility existed, limited to a tiny part of the country. The 
sentiment of a new nation co-operated effectively in creat- 
ing for writers a sympathetic public, which felt instinc- 
tively in their work an expression of that nationality. 
Then we learned a great deal of French, some English 
and Italian, a smattering of German and became intel- 
lectually denationalized. A success such as that of 
Macedo's Moreninha is fairly inconceivable today. Suc- 
cess in literature, as in clothing, comes ready made from 

"Do not take me for a nationalist, and less still, for 
a nativist. I simply am verifying a fact with the same in- 
difference with which I should perform the same office 
in the domains of geology. I am looking for the expla- 
nation of a phenomenon; I believe I have found it, and I 
present it. 

"So that, from this standpoint, it may be said that it 
was the development of our culture that prejudiced our 
literary evolution. It seems a paradox, but it is simply 
a truth. Defective and faulty as it was, that culture 
was enough to reveal to our reading public the infe- 
riority of our writers, without any longer counterbal- 
ancing this feeling by the patriotic ardor of the period 
during which the nationality was being formed. The 
general cultural deficiency of our writers of all sorts In 
Brazil is, then, one of the defects of our literature. 


Doing nothing but repeat servilely what Is being done 
abroad, without any originality of thought or form, with- 
out Ideas of their own, with immense gaps in their learn- 
ing, and no less defects of instruction that are today 
common among men of medium culture in the countries 
that we try to imitate and follow, we cannot compete 
before our readers with what they receive from the for- 
eign countries at first hand, by offering them a similar 
product at second. 

"In addition to study, culture, instruction, both general 
and thorough, carried on in time and with plenty of 
time, firm and substantial, our literature lacks at present 
sincerity. The evident decadence of our poetry may 
have no other cause. Compare, for example, the poetry 
of the last ten or even fifteen years, with that produced 
during the decade 1 850-1 860, by Gongalves DIas, Ca- 
slmlro de Abreu, Alvares de Azevedo, Junqueira Freire, 
Laurlndo Rabello, and you will note that the sincerity 
of emotion that overflowed the verses then Is almost com- 
pletely lacking In today's poetry. And In all our liter- 
ary labors, fiction, history, philosophy, criticism, It Is 
Impossible for the careful reader not to discern the same 
lack. Perhaps It Is due to a lack of correlation between 
milieu and writer. . . . To aggravate this, there was, 
moreover, lack of Ideas, lack of thought, which reduced 
our poetry to a subjectivism from which exaggerated 
fondness for form took emotion, the last quality that 
remained to it; It reduced our fiction to a copy of the 
French novel, which obstructed the existence of a dra- 
matic literature, which sterilized our philisophic, historic 
and critical production. This lack, however, Is a conse- 
quence of our lack of culture and study, which do not 


furnish to brains already for several reasons naturally 
poor the necessary restoratives and tonics. And the 
worst of it is that, judging from the direction in which 
we are moving, this very culture, as deficient and in- 
complete as it is, threatens to be extinguished in a wide- 
spread, all-consuming, and, anyway you look at it, coarse 
preoccupation with politics and finance." ^ 

8 Verissimo was bom at Belem, Para, on April 8, 1857. He initiated 
his career as a public official in his native province, but soon made his 
vpay to the directorship of the Gymnasio Nacional, and then the Normal 
School of Rio de Janeiro. For a long time, concurrently with his 
scholarly labors, he edited the famous Revista Brasileira. His Scenes 
of Life on the Amazon have been compared to the pages of Pierre Loti 
for their exotic charm. He died in 1918. 


HIS full name was Olavo Braz Martins dos 
Guimaraes Bilac; he Is one of the most popular 
poets that Brazil has produced; his surround- 
ings and his person, like the poetry that brought him his 
fame, were exquisite, — somewhat in the tradition of the 
French dandies and the Ibero-American versifiers who 
imitated them — yet in him the note was not overdone. 
He passes, in the history of the national letters, for 
one of the Parnassian leaders, yet he is one of their 
most subjective spirits. Toward the end of his life, as 
if the feelings that he had sought so long to dominate 
in his poetry must at last find vent, he became a sort of 
Socialist apostle, preaching the doctrine of education. 
"Brazil's malady," he averred, "is, above all, illiteracy." 
And like so many of his creative compatriots, he set 
patiently about constructing text-books for children. 
In his early days he found inspiration in the Romantic 
Goncalves Dias and the Parnassian Alberto de Oliveira; 
very soon, however, he attained to an idiom quite his 
own which lies somewhat between the manner of these 
two. "He is the poet of the city," one critic has written, 
"as Catullus was of Rome and as Apuleius was of Car- 
thage." He has been compared, likewise, to Lucian of 
Samosata. Most of all, however, he is the poet of per- 



fumed passion, — not the heavy, drugged perfumes of 
D'Annunzio, which weigh down the votaries until they 
suffer amidst their pleasures, but — and again like some 
of his Spanish-American brothers in the other nations 
of the continent — a faun in frock coat, sporting with 
naiads in silk. Bilac has his ivory tower, but its doors 
stand ajar to beauty of body and of emotion. His is 
no withdrawal into the inner temple; his eyes are always 
peering into the world from which he supposedly stands 
aloof, and his heart follows them. 

We are not to look to him, then, for either imperson- 
ality or impassivity. Even when he wrote of the Iliad, 
of Antony, of Carthage, he had his native Brazil in mind, 
as he revealed in his final poems. "We never really had 
a literature," he said shortly before his death. "We 
have imitations, copies, reflections. Where is the writer 
that does not recall some foreigner, — where is the school 
that we can really call our own? . . . There are, for the 
rest, explanations of this fact. We are a people in pro- 
cess of formation, in which divers ethnical elements are 
struggling for supremacy. There can be no original liter- 
ature until this is formed. . . ." 

Again: "We regulate ourselves by France. France 
has no strife of schools now, neither have we; France 
has some extravagant youths, so have we; it shows now 
an even stronger tendency, — the humanitarian, and we 
begin to write socialistic books." He spoke of poets as 
"the sonorous echo of Hugo's verse, between heaven 
and earth, to transmit to the gods the plaints of mor- 
tals," yet only in the end do any of his poems ring with 
such an echo, and the plaints that rise from the poems 
of Bilac that his countrymen most love are cries of 


passion. "Art," he said, as If to bely the greater part 
of his own life's work, and with something of repent- 
ance in his words, "is not, as some ingenious vision- 
aries would have it, an assertion and a labor apart, with- 
out filiation to the other preoccupations of existence. 
All human concerns are interwoven and blend in an in- 
dissoluble manner. The towers of gold and Ivory in 
which artists sequestered themselves, have toppled 
over. The art of today is open and subject to all the 
influences of the milieu and the epoch. In order to be 
the most beautiful representation of life, it must hear 
and preserve all the cries, all the complaints, all the 
lamentations of the human flock. Only a madman or 
a monstrous egoist . . . could live and labor by- him- 
self, locked under seven keys within his dream, indif- 
ferent to all that is happening outside in the vast field 
where the passions strive and die, where ambition pants 
and despair wails, where are being decided the destinies 
of peoples and races. . . ." 

This Is, as we shall presently be in position to note, 
fairly a recantation of his early poetic profession of 
faith. Which is right, — the proclamative self-dedication 
to Form and Style that stands at the beginning of his 
Poesias, or this consecration to humanity? Both. For 
at each stage of his career, Bilac was sincere and filled 
with a vision; in art, for that matter, only insincerity 
and inadequacy are ever wrong. And perhaps not in 
art alone. M. Gsell, who lately wrote an altogether 
delightful book made up of notes taken at Anatole 
France's retreat at Villa Said, quotes this little tale from 
the master, who was reminded of it by a portrait of 
Paolo Uccello in Vasarl. "This is the painter," said 


France, "whose wife gently reproached him with work- 
ing too slowly. 

" *I must have time,' the artist said, 'to establish the 
perspective of my pictures.' 

" 'Yes, Paolo,' the poor woman protested, 'but you are 
drawing for us the perspective of destitution and the 

"She was right," commented France, "and he was not 
wrong. The eternal conflict between the scruples of 
the artist and harsh reality." 

Bilac's seeming recantation at the end was the result 
of just such a clash between artistry and harsh reality. 
Had he chosen. In the beginning, to devote his poetic 
gifts to humanity, he might have been remembered 
longer as a man, but it is doubtful whether he would 
achieved his standing as an artist. And Brazil would 
have been the poorer by a number of poems that have 
doubtless enriched the emotional life of the nation. I 
wonder whether, in his later days, Bilac did not in a man- 
ner confuse art with social service. There are souls in 
whom the human comedy kindles the fires of song; such 
as they sing, — they do not theorize. Bilac was not one 
of them. There was nothing to prevent his serving 
humanity In any of the countless ways in which man may 
be more than wolf to man. But he himself, as an artist, 
was not fashioned to be a social force. He was the 
born voluptuary. 

"Art," he said, "Is the dome that crowns the edifice 
of civilization: and only that people can have an art 
which is already a people, — which has already emerged 
triumphant from all the tests through which the char- 
acter of nationalities Is purified and defined. . . ." 


Here again, his practice excels his theory. There is in 
him little Brazilianism, and even when he uses the native 
suggestion, as in his brilliant O Cacador de Esmeraldas 
(The Emerald-Hunter, and epic episode of the seven- 
teenth-century sertao) he is, as every poet should be, 
first of all himself. "Perhaps in the year 2500 there 
will exist diverse literatures in the vast territory now 
comprising Brazil," he prophesied, in disapproval of 
that sectionalism in letters which several times has tried 
to make a definite breach in the national literature. But 
is not all literature psychologically sectional? If the 
ambient is not filtered through the personality of the 
individual, is the product worth much more as art than 
a county report? In our own country, of late, there has 
been much futile talk of Chicago literature and New 
York literature, and other such really political chat. 
"Isms" within "isms," which make good "copy" for the 
newspapers and magazines, and which, no doubt, may 
have a certain sociological significance. But when you 
or I pick up a book or a poem, what care we, after all, 
for the land of its origin or even the life of its author, 
except as both are revealed in the work? Was not one 
of Bilac's own final admonitions to his nation's youth 
to "Love your art above all things and have the courage, 
which I lacked, to die of hunger rather than prostitute 
your talent?" And "above all things" means above the 
unessential intrusion of petty sectionalism, partisan aim, 
political purpose, moral exhortation, national pride. I 
have no quarrel, then, with Bilac's hopes for a national 
literature, with his aspirations for our common humanity. 
But I am happy that he was content to leave that part 
of him for public life rather than contriving to press it 


willy-nilly into the service of his only half Parnassian 

Bilac was, on the whole, less a Parnassian than was 
Francisca Julia. She transmuted her passion into cold, 
yet appealing, symbols; Machado de Assis's feelings do 
not quite fill his glass to the brim; Olavo Bilac's passion 
overflows the banks of his verse. Yet he remained as 
true as so warm a nature as his could be to the vows of 
his Profissiio de Fe, with its numerous exclamation points 
that stand as visible refutation of his avowed formal- 
ism. The very epigraph of the poem — and the poem 
itself stands as epigraph to the collection that follows — 
is taken from none other than that ardent soul, Victor 
Hugo, with whom at first the very opponents of the 
Romantic movement tried to maintain relations. So 
true is it that we retain a little of all things that we reject. 

Le poete est ciseleur, 
Le ciseleur est poete. 

Bilac's would-be Parnassian Profession of Faith, begin- 
ning thus inconsistently with a citation from the chief of 
the Romantics (a citation, it may be added, that is not 
all consistent with Hugo's own characteristic labours) is 
the herald of his own humanness. Let us now leave 
the "isms" to those who love them, and seek in Bilac the 
distinctive personality. His Profissdo de Fe is a bit dan- 
dified, snobbish, aloof, with a suggestion of a refined 
sensuality that is fully borne in his work. 

Nao quero a Zeus Capitolino, 

Herculeo e hello, 
Talhar no marmore divino 

Com o camartello. 


Que outro — nao eu! — a pedra corte 

Para, brutal, 
Erguer de Athene o altivo porta 


Mais que esse vulto extraordinario. 

Que assombra a vista, 
Seduz-me um leve relicario 

De fine artista. 

• • • • • 

Assim procedo. Minha penna, 

Segue esta norma, 
For te servir, Deusa serena, 

Serena Forma! 

• • • • • • 

Vive! que eu viverei servindo 

Teu culto, e, obscuro, 
Tuas custodias esculpindo 

No ouro mais puro. 

Celebrarei o teu officio 

No altar: porem, 
Se inda e pequeno o sacrificio, 

Morra eu tambem! 

Caia eu tembem, sem esperanca, 

Porem tranquilo, 
Inda, ao cahir, vibrando a langa, 

Em prol de Estylo ! ^ 

II have no wish to chisel the Capitoline Zeus, Herculean and beauti- 
ful, in divine marble. Let another— not I !— cut the stone to rear, in 
brutal proportions, the proud figure of Athene. More than by this ex- 
traordinary size that astounds the sight I am fascinated by the fragile 
reliquary of a delicate artist. Such is my procedure. My pen, follow 
that standard. To serve thee, serene Goddess, serene Form! Live! 
For I shall live in the service of thy cult, obscurely sculpturing thy 
vessels in the purest of gold. I will celebrate thine office upon the 


The Poesias ^ upon which Bilac's fame rests constitute 
but a book of average size, and consist of the following 
divisions: PanopUas (Panoplies); Via Lactea (The 
Milky Way) ; Sargas de Fogo (Fire-Brambles) ; Alma 
Inquieta (Restless Soul); As Viagens (Voyages); O 
Cacador de Esmeraldas (The Emerald-Hunter). 

The inspiration of the panopHes derives as much from 
the past as from the present; there is verbal coruscation 
aplenty, — an admirable sense of colour, imagery, fer- 
tility, symbol. Even when reading the Iliad, Bilac sees 
in it chiefly a poem of love: 

Mais que as armas, porem, mais que a batalha, 
Mais que os incendios, brilha o amor que ateia 
O odio e entre os povos a discordia espalha: 

Esse amor que ora activa, ora asserena 
A guerra, e o heroico Paris encadeia 
Aos curvos seios da formosa Helena. ^ 

In Delenda Carthago there is the clash of rutilant arms 
and the sense of war's and glory's vanity; this is the typi- 
cal motif of the voluptuary, whether of love or of battle. 
It is not, however, the sorrowful conclusion of the phi- 
losopher facing the Inevitable, — "the path of glory leads 
but to the grave." Rather is it the weariness of the 
prodded senses. Scipio, victorious, grows mute and sad, 
and the tears run down his cheeks. 

altar; more, if the sacrifice be too small, I myself will die. Let me, 
too, fall, hopeless, yet tranquil. And even as I fall, I'll raise my lance 
in the cause of Style ! 

2 Published originally in 1888, and ending, in its first form, with 
Sargas de Fogo. 

3 More than arms, however, more than battle, more than conflagrations, 
It is love that shines here, kindling hatred between peoples and scatter- 
ing discord. That love which now incites, now abates war, and chains 
the heroic Paris to the curved breasts of Helen the beautiful. 


For, beholding in rapid descent, 

Rolling into the abyss of oblivion and annihilation, 

Men and traditions, reverses and victories. 

Battles and trophies, six centuries of glory 

In a fistful of ashes, — the general foresaw 

That Rome, the powerful, the unvanquished, so strong in arms, 

Would go perforce the selfsame way as Carthage. . . . 

Nearby, the vague and noisy crackling 

Of the conflagration, that still roared furiously on, 

Rose like the sound of convulsive weeping. 

It is perhaps in Via Lactea that the book — and Bilac's 
art — reaches its apex. This is a veritable miniature milky- 
way of sonnet gems; all claims to objectivity and imper- 
sonality have been forgotten in the man's restrained, but 
by no means repressed passion. His love is not the ivory- 
tower vapouring of the youthful would-be Maeterlinckian 
that infests verse in Spanish and Portuguese America; 
it is of the earth, earthy. When he writes of his love he 
mingles with the Idea the thought of country, and when he 
writes of his country It Is often in terms of carnal passion. 
Verlsslmo has noted the same phenomenon in some of 
the poets that preceded Bllac and, of course, It Is to be 
verified repeatedly In the singers of every land; Indeed, 
is not Liberty always a woman, as our national coinage 
proves for the millionth time, and when soldiers are 
urged to fight and die pro patria, is it not a beautiful lady 
that hovers over the fields and trenches? In these son- 
nets he becomes the poet-chlseller of Hugo's distich; into 
a form that would seem to have lost all adaptability to 
new manipulation he manages to pour something new, 
something his own. There Is, In his very attitude, a pre- 
occupation with form for Its own sake that enables him 


to employ the sonnet without loss of effect. His devo- 
tion to the cameo-like structure Is not absolute, how- 
ever. In none of these poems does one feel that he has 
cramped his feelings In order to mortise quatrain Into 
tercet. When, as In A Alvorada de Amor, he feels the 
need of greater room, he takes It. 

He Is the lover weeping over gladness: 

Quern ama inventa as penas em que vive: 
E, em lugar de acalmar as penas, antes 
Busca novo pezar com que as avive. 

Pois sabei que e por isso que assim ando: 
Que e dos loucos somente e dos amantes 
Na maior alegria andar chorando. "* 

He is ill content to feed upon poetic imaginings of 
kiss and embrace, or to dream of heavenly beatitudes in- 
stead of earthly love : 


Ao coracao que soffre, separado 
Do teu, no exilio em que a chorar me vejo, 
Nao basta o affecto simples e sagrado 
Com que das desventuras me protejo. 

Nao me basta saber que sou amado, 
Nem so desejo o teu amor: desejo 
Ter nos bragos teu corpo delicado, 
Ter na bocca a dogura do teu beijo. 

E as justas ambigoes que me consomem 
Nao me envergonham : pois maior baixeza 
Nao ha que a terra pelo ceo trocar; 

* He who loves invents the pangs in which he lives; and instead of 
soothing these griefs, he seeks a new care with which he but rekindles 
them. Know, then, that this is the reason why I go about so. Only mad- 
men and lovers weep in their greatest joy. 


E mais eleva o coragao de um homem 
Ser de homem sempre e, na maior pureza, 
Ficar na terra e humanamente amar. ^ 

So runs the song in his more reflective mood, which is 
half objection and half meditation. There are other 
moments, however, in Alma Inquieta when a similar pas- 
sion bursts out beyond control and when, in his pride of 
virility, he rejects Paradise and rises superior to the Lord 

The sonnet that follows this in Via Lactea is notable 
for its intermingling of love, country and saiidade: 


Longe de ti, se escuto, porventura, 
Teu nome, que uma bocca indifferente 
Entre outros nomes de mulher murmura, 
Sobe-me o pranto aos olhos, de repente. . . . 

Tal aquelle, que, misero, a tortura 
Soffre de amargo exilio, e tristemente 
A linguagem natal, maviosa e pura, 
Ouve falada por estranha gente. . . . 

Porque teu nome e para mim o nome 
De uma patria distante e idolatrada, 
Cuja saudade ardente me consome: 

5 For the heart that suffers, severed from you, in this exile that I weep, 
the simple and sacred affection with which I shield myself against all 
misfortunes is not enough. It is not enough to know that I am loved; 
I would have your delicate body in my arms, taste in my mouth the 
sweetness of your kiss. Nor am I shamed by the just ambitions that 
consume me. For there is no greater baseness than to change the earth 
for the sky. It more exalts the heart of a man to be a man ever, and, 
in the greatest purity, remain on earth and love like a human being. 



E ouvil-o e ver a eterna primavera 
E a eterna luz da terra abencoada, 
Onde, entre flores, teu amor me espera. ^ 

Sarcas de Fogo, as its name would imply, abandons the 
restraint of Via Lactea. In Julgamento de PhrynS 
beauty becomes not only its own excuse for being, but the 
excuse for wrong as well. Phryne's judges, confronted 
with her unveiled beauty, tremble like lions before the 
calm gaze of their tamer, and she appears before the mul- 
titude "in the immortal triumph of Flesh and Beauty." 
In Santania a maiden's desires rise powerfully to the 
surface only to take flight in fright at their own daring. 
No Limiar de Morte (On The Threshold of Death) 
is the voluptuary's memento mori after his carpe diem. 
There is a touch of irony borrowed from Machado de 
Assis in the closing tercets: 

You, who loved and sufFered, now turn your steps 

Toward me. O, weeping soul, 

You leave behind the hate of tlie worldly hell. . . . 

Come! for at last you shall enjoy within my arms 
All the wantonness, all the fascinations, 
All the delights of eternal rest! 

6 Far from you, if peradventure I hear your name, murmured by an in- 
diflFerent mouth amidst other women's names, the tears come suddenly 
to my eyes. . . . Such is he who suflfers in bitter exile and sadly, hears his 
native tongue, so pure and beautiful, spoken by foreign lips. . . . For 
your name is to me the name of a distant, worshipped fatherland, the 
longing for which consumes me. And to hear it is to behold eternal 
springtime, and the everlasting light of the blessed land, where, amidst 
flowers, your love awaits me. 

An excellent example of a similar identification of sweetheart and 
fatherland occurs in the sonnet Desterro (Exile), in the section Alma 
Inquieta, in which his beloved is called "patria do raeu desejo" (land of 
my desire). 


This is impressed in far superior fashion by one of the 
best sonnets Bilac ever wrote : Sahara Vitae. Here, 
in the image of life's desert, he conveys a haunting sense 
of helpless futility such as one gets only rarely, from 
such sonnets, say, as the great Shelleyan one, Ozymandias 
of Egypt. 

La vao! O ceo se arqueia 

Como um tecto de bronze infindo e quente, 

E o sol fuzila e, fuzilando, ardente 

Criva de flechas de ago o mar de areia. . . . 

La vao, com os olhos onde a sede ateia 
Um fogo estranho, procurando em frente 
Esse oasis do amor que, claramente, 
Alem, bello e falaz, se delineia. 

Mas o simun da morte sopra: a tromba 
Convulsa envolve-os, prostra-os; e aplacada 
Sobre si mesma roda e exhausta tomba. . . . 

E o sol de novo no igneo ceo fuzila. . . . 
E sobre a geragao exterminada 
A areia dorme placida e tranquila. ^ 

For the clearness of its imagery, for the perfect progress 
of a symbol that is part and parcel of the poetry, this 
might have come out of Dante. It is not often that 
fourteen lines contain so complete, so devastating a com- 

'^ There they go! The sky arches over like an endless burning roof 
of bronze, and the sun shoots, and shooting, riddles with arrows of 
steel the sea of sand. There they go, with eyes in which thirst has 
kindled a strange fire, gazing ahead to that oasis of love which yonder, 
clearly rises in its deluding beauty. But now blows the simoon of death: 
the shattering whirlwind envelops them, prostrates them; sated, it rolls 
upon itself and falls in exhaustion. . . . And once again the sun shoots 
in the fiery sky. . . . And over the exterminated generation the sand 
sleeps its peaceful, tranquil sleep. 


mentary. Side by side with Beijo Eterno (Eternal Kiss) 
it occurs in the Poesias, as if to reveal its relation as re- 
verse to the obverse of the poet's voluptuousness. Beijo 
Eterno, like A Alvarada de Amor, is one of the central 
poems of Olavo Bilac. It is the linked sweetness of 
Catullus long drawn out. It is the sensuous ardour of 
the poet inundating all time and all space, while Sahara 
Vitae is the languor that follows upon the fulfilment of 
ardour. They are both as much a part of the poet as 
the two sides are part of the coin. The first and last 
of the ten stanzas of Beijo Eterno epitomize the Dio- 
nysiac outburst; they are alike: 

Quero um beijo sem fim, 
Que dure a vida enteira e aplaque a meu desejo ! 
Ferve-me o sangue. Acalma-o com teu beijo, 
Beija-me assim! 
O ouvido fecha ao rumor 
Do mundo, e beija-me querida! 
Vive so para mim, so para a minha vida, 
So para o meu amor ! ^ 

In less amorous mood he can sing a serenade — A 
Cancao de Romeu — (Romeo's Song) to which any Juliet 
might well open her window: 

As estrellas surgiram 
Todas: e o limpio veo 
Como lirios alvissimos, cobriram 
Do ceo. 

8 1 want an endless kiss, that shall last an entire life and sate my 
desire! My blood seethes. Slake it with your kiss, kiss me so! Close 
your ears to the sound of the world, and kiss me, beloved ! Live for me 
alone, for my life only, only for my love! 


De todas a mais bella 
Nao veio ainda, porem: 
Falta uma estrella. . . . fis tu! . . . Abre a janella, 
E vem ! ^ 

And if, In the closing piece of this section — A Tenta- 
gao de Xenocrates — (The Temptation of Xenocrates) 
the courtesan's charms seem more convincing than the re- 
sistance of the victorious philosopher, it must be because 
Bilac himself subtly sided with the temptress, and spoke 
with her when she protested that she had vowed to tame 
a man, not a stone. If, in the manner of the Freudians, 
we are to look upon the poem as a wish that the poet 
could on occasion show such scorn of feminine blandish- 
ments, it is doubly interesting to note that, though the 
moral victory lies with Xenocrates, the poet has willy- 
nilly made the courtesan's case the more sympathetic. 
What, indeed, are the fruits of a philosophy that denies 
the embraces of a La'i's? 

Just as Olavo Bilac's voluptuousness brings to him 
inevitably thoughts of death, so does his cult of form 
lead him at times to a sense of the essential uselessness 
of all words and all forms. He has expressed this no- 
where so well as in the sonnet Inania Verba from the sec- 
tion Alma Inquieta: 

Ah! Quern ha-de exprimir, alma impotente e escrava, 
O que a bocca nao diz, o que a mao nao escreve? 
— Ardes, sangras, pregada a tua cruz, e, em breve, 
Olhas, desfeito em lodo, o que te deslumbrava. . . . 

8 The stars have all come out, and have broidered the pure veil of 
heaven with the whitest of lilies. But the most beautiful of all I do 
not yet see. One star is missing. It is you! . . . Open your window 
and come! 


O Pensameto erve, e e um turbilhao de lava: 

A Forma, fria e espessa, e um sepulcro de neve. . . . 

E a Palavra pesada abafa a Idea leve, 

Que, perfume e clarao, refulgia e voava. 

Quem o molde achara para a expressao de tudo? 

Ail quem ha-de dezir as ansias infinitas 
Do sonho? e o ceo que foge a mao que se levanta? 

E a ira muda? e o asco mudo? e o desespero mudo? 

E as palavras de fe que nunca foram ditas? 

E as confissGes de amor que morrem na garganta?^** 

Alma Inquleta reaches its climax with A Alvorada de 
Amor (The Dawn of Ijove) . It is important enough to 
be quoted in full, as one of the sincerest and most pas- 
sionate outbursts of the Brazilian muse, in which Olavo 
Bilac's countrymen find mirrored that sensual part of 
themselves which is the product of climate, racial blend 
and the Adam and Eve in all of us. 

Um horror grande e mudo, um silencio profundo 
No dia do Peccado amortalhava o mundo. 
E Adao, vendo fachar-se a porta do Eden, vendo 
Que Eva olhava o deserto e hesitava tremendo, 
Disse : 

"Chega-te a mim! entra no meu amor, 

^•^ Ah, who can express, enslaved and impotent soul, what the lips do 
not speak, what the hand cannot write. Clasping your cross, you burn, 
you bleed, only soon to behold in the mire that which had dazzled 
you. . . . Thought seethes; it is a whirlwind of lava: Form, cold 
and compact, is a sepulchre of snow. . . . And the heavy word stifles 
the fragile Idea which, like perfume and light, flew glittering about. 
Who can find the mould in which to cast expression? Ah! who can 
speak the infinite anxieties of our dreams? The heavens that flee from 
the hand that is raised? And mute ire? And this wretched world? 
And voiceless despair? And the words of faith that were never spoken? 
And the confessions of love that die in one's throat? 


E a minha carne entrega a tua carne em flor! 
Preme contra o meu peito o teu seio agitado, 
E aprende a amar o Amor, renovando o peccado! 
Abengoo o teu crime, acolho o teu desgosto, 
Bebo-te, de uma em uma, as lagrimas do rosto ! 

Ve! tudo nos repelle! a toda a creagao 

Sacode o mesmo horror e a mesma indignagao. . . . 

A colera de Deus torce as arvores, cresta 

Como um tufao de fogo o seio de floresta, 

Abre a terra em vulcbes, encrespa a agua do rios; 

As estrellas estao cheias de calefrios; 

Ruge soturno a mar; turva-se hediondo o ceo. . . . 

Vamos! que importa Deus? Desate, como un veo, 

Sobre a tua nudez a cabelleira! Vamos! 

Arda em chammas o chao; rasguem-te a pelle os ramos; 

Morda-te o corpo o sol ; inuriem-te os ninhos ; 

Surjam feras a uivar de todos os caminhos; 

E vendo-te a sangrar das urzes atravez, 

Se enmaranhem no chao as serpes aos teus pes. . . . 

Que importa? o Amor, botao apenas entreaberto 

Ilumina o degredo e perfume o deserto! 

Amo-te! sou feliz! porque do Eden perdido, 

Levo tudo, levando o teu corpo querido! 

Pode, em redor de ti, tudo se anniquilar: 

Tudo renascera cantando ao teu olhar, 

Tudo, mares e ceos, arvores e montanhas, 

Porque a Vida perpetuo arde em tuas entranhas! 

Rosas te brotarao da bocca se cantares! 

Rios te correrao dos olhos, se chorares! 

E se, em torno ao teu corpo encantador e nu, 

Tudo morrer, que importa? A Natureza es tu. 

Agora que es mulher, agora que peccaste! 



Ah! bemdito o momento em que me revelaste 

O amor com o teu peccado, e a vida com a teu crime ! 

Porque, livre de Deus, redimido e sublime, 

Homem fico na terra, a luz dos olhos teus, 

— Terra, melhor que o Ceo! homem, maior que Deus! ^^ 

So, in Peccador (Sinner) he presents the figure of a 
proud, unrepentant sinner — it might be the amorous Don 
Juan himself, — who "accepts the enormousness of the 
punishment with the same countenance that he wore when 
formerly he accepted the delight of transgression !" He is 

11 A vast, mute horror, a deep silence shrouded the world upon the 
day of Sin. And Adam, beholding the gates of Eden close, seeing Eve 
gaze in hesitant trembling at the desert, said: "Come to me! Enter 
into my love, and surrender to my flesh your own fair flesh! Press 
your agitated breast against my bosom and learn to love Love, re- 
newing sin. I bless your crime, I welcome your misfortune, I drink, 
one by one, the tears from your cheeks! Behold! Everything rejects 
us! All creation is shaken by the same horror and the same indigna- 
tion. . . . The rage of the Lord twists the trees, ravages the heart of 
the forest like a hurricane of flame, splits the earth into volcanoes, curls 
the water of the rivers; the stars are aquiver with shudders; the sea 
mutters with fury; the sky is dark with anger. ... Let us go! What 
matters God? Loosen like a veil your tresses over your nakedness! Let 
us be gone! Let the earth burn in flames; let the branches rend your 
skin; let the sun bite your body; let the nests harm you; let wild beasts 
rise on all the roads to howl at you; and seeing you bleed through the 
brambles, let the serpents entangle themselves upon the ground at your 
feet. . . . What matters it? Let love, but a half-open bud, illumine 
our banishment and perfume the desert! I love you! I am happy! 
For from the lost Eden I bear everything, having your beloved body! 
Let everything crumble to ruin about you ; it will all rise new born before 
your eyes,— all, seas and skies, trees and mountains, for perpetual life 
burns in your bowels! Roses will burgeon from your mouth if you 
sing! Rivers will flow from your eyes, if you weep! And if, about 
your enchanting, nude body, all should die, what matters it then? You 
are Nature, now that you are woman, now that you have sinned! Ah, 
blessed the moment in which you revealed to me love with your sin 
and life with your crime! For, free from God, redeemed and sublime, I 
remain a man upon earth, in the light of your eyes,— Earth, better than 
Heaven! Man, greater than God! 


no less sincere, doubtless, when in Ultima Pag'ina (Final 
Page) he exclaims 

Carne, que queres mais? Coragao, que mais queres? 
Passam as estagoes, e passam as mulheres. . . . 
E eu tenho amado tanto! e nao conhego o Amor! 

Flesh, what would you more? What would you more, my heart? 
The seasons pass and women, too, pass with them. . . . 
And I have loved so much, yet know not what is Love! 

Tedio (Ennui) is the voluptuousness of Nirvana after 
the voluptuousness of Dionysus; lilce all sinners, he comes 
for rest to a church. "Oh, to cease dreaming of what 
I cannot behold ! To have my blood freeze and my flesh 
turn cold ! And, veiled in a crepuscular glow, let my 
soul sleep without a desire, — ample, funereal, lugubrious, 
empty as an abandoned cathedral! . . ." 

The section As Viagens (Voyages) consists chiefly of 
twelve admirable sonnets — a form in which Bilac's blend- 
ing of intense feeling with artistic restraint seems as 
much at home as any modern poet — ranging from the 
first migration, through the Phoenicians, the Jews, Alex- 
ander, Ccesar, the Barbarians, the Crusades, the Indies, 
Brazil, the precursor of the airplane in Toledo, the 
Pole, to Death, which is the end of all voyages. At the 
risk of overemphasizing a point that has already been 
made, I would quote the sonnet on Brazil: 

Para! Uma terra nova ao teu olhar fulgura! 
Detem-te! Aqui, de encontro a verdejantes plagas, 
Em caricias se muda a inclemencia das vagas. . . . 
Este e reino da Luz, do Amor e da Fartura! 


Treme-te a voz affeita as blasphemias e as pragas, 
O nauta! Olha-a, de pe, virgem morena e pura, 
Que aos teus beijos entrega, em plena formosura, 
— Os dous seios que, ardendo em desejos, afagas. . . . 

Beija-a! O sol tropical deu-lhe a pelle dorada 

O barulho do ninho, o perfume da rosa, 

A frescura do rio, o esplendor da alvorada. . . . 

Beija-a! e a mais bella flor da Natureza inteira! 
E farta-te de amor nesse carne cheirosa, 
O desvirginador da Terra Brasileira! ^^ 

What is this, indeed? Part of some ardent Song of 
Songs? Note how the imagery is exclusively that of 
burning passion. Brazil becomes a fascinating virgin 
who falls to the fortunate discoverer. In that sonnet, I 
should say, is concealed about one half the psychology 
of the narrower patriotism. 

O Cacador de Esmeraldas is a splendid episode in 
four parts, containing some forty-six sextets In all, filled 
with movement, colour, pervading spmbolism and a cer- 
tain patriotic pantheism. More than a mere search 
for emeralds the poem recounts the good that man may 
work even in the vile pursuit of precious stones, — the 

12 Hold ! A new land shines before your eyes! Stop! Here, before 
the green shores, the waves' inclemency turns to caresses. . . . This is 
the kingdom of Light, of Love and Satiety! Oh, mariner! Let your 
voice, accustomed to blasphemies and curses, tremble! Gaze at her 
standing there, a dark, pure virgin who surrenders to your kisses, in 
the fulness of her beauty, her two breasts which, burning with desire, 
you soothe. . . . Kiss her! The tropical sun gave her that gilded skin, 
the nest's content, the rose's perfume, the coolness of the river, the 
splendour of dawn. . . . Kiss her! She is the fairest of all Nature's 
flowers! Sate yourself with love in this fragrant flesh, oh first lover 
of the Brazilian Land! 


vanity of all material quest. For sheer artistry it ranks 
with Bilac's most successful accomplishments. 

"His inspiration," wrote Verissimo, considering the 
verse of Bilac, "is limited to a few poetic themes, all 
treated with a virtuosity perhaps unparalleled amongst 
us . . . but without an intensity of feeling corresponding 
to the brilliancy of the form, which always is more im- 
portant in him. This is the characteristic defect of the 
Parnassian esthetics, of which Sr. Bilac is our most illus- 
trious follower, and to which his poetic genius adjusted 
itself perfectly and intimately." I believe that Verissimo 
was slightly misled by Bilac's versified professions. 
There is no doubt that Bilac's temperament, as I have 
tried to show, was eminently suited to some such orienta- 
tion as was sought by those Parnassians who understood 
what they were about; there is as little doubt, in my 
mind, that his feeling was intense, though not deep. He 
may have spoken of the crystalline strophe and the 
etcher's needle — which, indeed, he often employed with 
the utmost skill, — but there were moments when nothing 
but huge marbles and the sculptor's chisel would do. It 
was with such material that he carved A Alvorada de 
Amor. "If Sr. Machado de Assis was," continues Ver- 
issimo, "more than twenty years previous to Bilac, our 
first artist-poet, — if other contemporaries or immediate 
predecessors of Bilac also practised the Parnassian es- 
thetics, none did it with such manifest purpose, and, above 
all with such triumphant skill. ..." 

I am not sure whether Verissimo is right in having 
asked of Bilac a more contemporary concern with the 
currents of poetry. The critic grants that Bilac is per- 


haps the most brilliant poet ever produced by his nation, 
"but other virtues are lacking in him without which there 
can be no truly great poet. I do not know but that I 
am right in supposing that, conscious of his excellence, he 
remained a stranger to the social, philosophical and es- 
thetic movement that is today everywhere renewing the 
sources of poetry. And it is a great pity; for he was 
amongst us perhaps one of the most capable of bringing 
to our anaemic poetry the new blood which, with more 
presumption than talent, some poets — or persons who 
think themselves such — are trying to inject, without any 
of the gifts that abound in him." 

Bilac, as we have seen, did, toward the end of his life, 
become a more social spirit. But this was not necessary 
to his pre-eminence as a poet. He was, superbly, him- 
self. Rather that he should have given us so freely of 
the voluptuary that was in him — voluptuary of feeling, 
of charm, of form, of language, of taste — than that, in 
a mistaken attempt to be a "complete" man, he should 
sprawl over the varied currents of the day and hour. 
For it is far more certain that each current will find its 
masterly spokesman in art, than that each artist will be- 
come a masterly spokesman for all of the currents. 



X^ 5 Sertoes, which first appeared in 1902 — a happy 
I M y^^i* foi" Brazilian letters, since it witnessed the 
^•^ publication of Graga Aranha's Chanaan as 
well — is one of the outstanding works of modern Portu- 
guese literature. At once it gave to its ill-fated author 
a fame to which he never aspired. His name passed 
from tongue to tongue, like that of some new Columbus 
who with his investigation of the sertao had discovered 
Brazil to the Brazilians. His labour quickened interest 
in the interior, revealed a new source of legitimate 
national inspiration and presented to countrymen a 
strange work, — disturbing, illuminating, disordered, al- 
most a fictional forest, written in nervous, heavily- 
freighted prose. Yet this is harsh truth itself, stranger 
than the fiction of Coelho Netto, wilder than the poetry 
of Graga Aranha, though instinct with the imagination 
of the one and the beauty of the other. The highly 
original work struck a deep echo in English letters 
and if Englishmen have neglected to read Richard Cun- 
nlnghame-'Graham's remarkable book called A Brazilian 
\Mystic: The Life and Miracles of Antonio Consel- 
heiro — a book that would never have been written had 
not Euclydes da Cunha toiled away in obscurity to pro- 
duce Os Sertoes — it is their loss rather than their fault. 



It is a hurried and a harried world. Who, today, has 
time for such beauty of thought and phrase as Richard 
the wandering Scots sets down almost carelessly in his 
books and then sends forth from the press with mildly 
mocking humour for his prospective, but none too surely 
anticipated readers? Yet it is not the least of Euclydes 
da Cunha's glories that he was the prime cause of Mr. 
Cunninghame-Graham's A Brazilian Mystic. Not a fault 
of English readers, surely; but none the less their loss. 

The author of Os Sertoes was born on January 20, 
1866, in Santa Rita do Rio Negro, municipality of Can- 
tagallo. Losing his mother when he was three years 
old, he went first to Theresopolis to an aunt, and thence, 
after two years, to Sao Fidelis to another aunt, with 
whom he remained until his first studies were completed. 
His father retiring to Rio de Janerio in 1876, Euclydes 
was transported to the capital, where he attended in due 
course the collegios called Victorio da Costa, Anglo- 
Brasileiro and Aquino. Naturally, he went through his 
baptism of verse, preparing a collection called Ondas 
(Waves) ; since every Brazilian early suffers an attack 
of this literary measles — it would be almost impolite not 
to indite one's obligatory number of sonnets — the notice 
is without any importance to a man's later career. It was 
at the Escola Militar da Praia Vermelha, which he en- 
tered at the age of twenty, that he laid the foundations of 
his scientific studies, and it is the scientist in Euclydes da 
Cunha that solidifies Os Sertoes. 

The man — as his mature prose testifies — was of nerv- 
ous temperament, and was led into one political scrape 
after another. At the very beginning of his career, car- 


ried away by the propaganda of Benjamin Constant, he 
committed an act of indiscipline against the Minister of 
War which has become famous in the annals of Brazilian 
politics, having required the benevolent intervention of 
the Emperor. 

His journalistic labours began in 1888; the following 
year found him at the Escola Polytechnica of Rio de 
Janeiro, finishing his course as an engineer, but the 
proclamation of the Republic interrupted his studies and 
he returned to the army. 

The material for his famous book was gathered while 
in the service of the important newspaper Estado de Sao 
Paulo, for which he went into the wilds to report the 
government campaign against the fractious inhabitants 
of the sertao. 

The campaign, as taught in the Brazilian schools, 
marked another stage in the establishment, the consoli- 
dation, of the Brazilian republic. It took place during 
the presidency of Prudente de Moraes (i 894-1 898) and 
brought within the folds of the new regime the rebellious 
sertanejos, who had rallied round the leadership of An- 
tonio Vicente Mendes Maciel. Maciel was born circa 
1835 in Ceara and had, since 1864, attracted attention 
because of his strange religious notions, his queer garb, his 
legendary personality. Accused of crime, he was vindi- 
cated and went off toward the interior of Bahia, wander- 
ing in every direction over the sertoes and reaching, at 
last, a tiny hamlet of Itapicuru, which he christened with 
the name Bom Jesus (Good Jesus) on November 10, 
1886. The Archbishop of Bahia objecting, Maciel was 
ousted in 1887 as a preacher of subversive doctrines. 
His followers accompanied him, however, to Canudos, 


an old cattle ranch which, in 1890 was an abandoned site 
with some fifty ramshackle ruins of cottages. Thither 
came flocking an army of devotees and riff-raff, so that, 
when Maciel resisted the government that was intent 
upon collecting its taxes, he had a respectable number to 
heed his cry of insurrection. 

At first the new republic tried religious methods, send- 
ing a Capuchin friar to win over the rebels to the Church 
and the Law. The monk despaired. Then followed 
four expeditions against the mystical Antonio; the first 
in November of 1896, the second during December- 
January of 1 896-1 897, the third during February and 
March of 1897, the last from April to October 
of the same year. "The sad chronicle of the tragedy 
of Canudos, the most important civil war in the history of 
the country," concludes one popular text-book account,^ 
"indicated the immediate necessity of the unification of 
the country. ... It revealed, furthermore, the great 
resources of strength and virility among the sertanejos, 
who, though conservative and little disposed to lend 
themselves easily to novelty, possess none the less qual- 
ities important to the development of the country, once 
they are in fact bound to the national life." 

Euclydes da Cunha's revelatory book opened the 
doors of the Brazilian Academy of Letters to him in 
1903. He produced other books, one on the eternal 
question of Peru versus Bolivia, in which he sides with 
Bolivia ; he became known for his speeches. The end 
of his life, which occurred through assassination on the 
15th of August, 1909, was caused by a sexual snarl in 

1 Resumo da Historia do Brazil. Maria G. L. de Andrade. Edicao 
Ampliada, 1920, Pages 277-278. 


which the corrupters of his domestic happiness added 
crime to betrayal. 

The plan of Os Sertoes is that of a scientific spirit at 
the same time endowed with the many-faceted receptivity 
of the poet. Before approaching the campaign of 
Canudos itself, the author studies the land and the man 
produced by it; he is here, indeed, as Verissimo early 
indicated, the man of science, the geographer, the geolo- 
gist, the enthnographer; the man of thought, the 
philosopher, the sociologist, the historian; the man of 
feeling, the poet, the novelist, the artist who can see and 
describe. But nowhere the sentimentalist. From one 
standpoint, indeed, the book is a cold confirmation of the 
very law against whose operative details the author pro- 
tests: — "the inevitable crushing of the weak races by the 

Though a sertanejo school of fiction had existed be- 
fore Os Sertoes, the book brought to Brazilians a nearer, 
more intimate conception of the inhabitants of those 

"The sertanejo," writes the author In Chapter III of 
the section devoted to the man of the sertao, "is first of 
all a strong man. He does not possess the exhaustive 
rachetism of the neurasthenic hybrids of the coast. 

"His appearance, however, at first blush, reveals 
the contrary. He lacks the impeccable plasticity, the 
straightness, the highly correct structure of athletic 

"He is graceless, seemingly out of joint, crooked. 
Hercules-Quasimodo, he reflects In his appearance the 
typical ugliness of the weak. His loose gait, curved, 


almost waddling and tortuous, suggests the manipulation 
of unarticulated members. This impression is ag- 
gravated by his normally abject posture, in a manifesta- 
tion of displeasure that gives him an appearance of 
depressing humihty. On foot, when standing still, he 
invariably leans against the first door-post or wall that 
he finds; on horseback, if he reins in the animal to ex- 
change a few words with a friend, he at once falls upon 
one of the stirrups, resting upon the side of the saddle. 
Jogging along, even at a rapid trot he never traces a 
straight, firm line. He advances hastily in a character- 
istic zig-zag, of which the meandering tracks of the 
sertao seem to be the geometric pattern. . . . 

"He is the everlastingly tired man. . . . 

"Yet all this seeming weariness is an illusion. 

"There is nothing more amazing than to see him dis- 
appear all of a sudden. ... It takes only the arising of 
some incident that requires the unleashing of his dormant 
energy. The man Is transfigured. . . ." ^ 

2 "This struggle for existence," writes Cunninghame-Graham in 
A Brazilian Mystic (pages 17-18) "amongst plants and animals presents 
its counterpart amongst mankind. The climate sees to it that only those 
most fitted to resist it arrive at manhood, and the rude life they subse- 
quently lead has forged a race as hard as the Castilians, the Turks, the 
Scythians of old, or as the Mexicans. 

"No race in all America is better fitted to cope with the wilderness. 
The sertanejo is emphatically what the French call 'a male.' His Indian 
blood has given him endurance and a superhuman patience in adversity. 
From his white forefathers he has derived intelligence, the love of in- 
dividual as opposed to general freedom inherent in the Latin races, good 
manners, and a sound dose of self-respect. His tinge of negro blood, 
although in the sertao it tends to disappear out of the race, at least in 
outward characteristics, may perchance have given him whatever quali- 
ties the African can claim. Far from demonstrative, he yet feels deeply; 
never forgets a benefit, and cherishes an insult as if it were a pearl of 
price, safe to revenge it when the season offers or when the enemy is off 
his guard. 


And it is this same powerful denizen of the Brazilian 
hinterlands that is a prey to the most primitive of super- 
stitions, so that it was an easy matter for his resistance 
to a distant seat of government to become coupled in 
his mind with a resurgence of Sebastianism as newly 
incarnated in the person of Antonio Maciel. 

"This feeling of uneasiness In regard to the new 
government," writes Cunninghame-Graham, "the mysti- 
cism of the people as shown in the belief in the return to 
earth of Dom Sebastian, and the fear that the govern- 
ment meant the destruction of all religion, tended to 
make the dwellers in the sertao especially susceptible to 
any movement, religious or political alike, during the 
time between the abdication of the Emperor and the firm 
establishment of the new government. Out of the 
depths of superstition and violence, Antonio Consel- 
heiro arose to plunge the whole sertao into an erethism 
of religious mania and blood." 

As relatively late as 1837 the region had witnessed a 

"Centaurs before the Lord, the sertanejos do not appear (almost alone 
of horsemen) to have that pride in their appearance so noticeable in the 
gaucho, the Mexican and in the Arabs of North Africa. Seated in his 
short, curved saddle, a modification of the 'recao' used on the Pampas 
of the Argentine, the sertanejo lounges, sticks his feet forward, and 
rides, as goes the saying, all about his horse, using, of course, a single 
rein, and the high hand all natural horsemen affect. Yet, when a bunch 
of cattle break into a wild stampede, the man is suddenly transformed. 
Then he sits upright as a lance, or, bending low over his horse's neck, 
flies at a break-neck pace, dashing through the thick scrub of the *caa- 
t'lngas in a way that must be seen to be believed. Menacing boughs 
hang low and threaten him. He throws himself flat on the horse's back 
and passes under them. A tree stands in his way right in the middle of 
his headlong career. If his horse, highly trained and bitted, fails to stop 
in time, he slips off like a drop of water from a pane of glass at the last 
moment, or if there is the smallest chance of passing on one side, lies low 
along his horse's flank after the fashion of an old-time Apache or Com^ 
anche on the war-path." 


veritable orgy of sacrifice. A fanatic had mounted the 
so-called pedra honita (pretty stone) and preached the 
coming of King Dom Sebastian, "he who fell at the field 
of Alcazar-el-Kebir. He foretold that the stone would 
be cut into steps; not cut with any earthly tools, but 
smoothed away by the shedding of the blood of children. 
Up these steps, so miraculously to be prepared, sur- 
rounded by his guard of honour, dressed in armour, the 
King, who had been dead three hundred years, should 
ascend and come into his own again, reigning in Portugal 
and in Brazil, and bountifully rewarding those who had 
been faithful to him and by their faith contributed to his 
disenchantment. ... A multitude of women, all a prey 
to the mysterious agitation . . . came through the 
mountain passes, followed the trails through the virgin 
forests and assembled to hear the word preached at the 
wondrous pulpit made by no earthly hands. Unluckily 
they brought their children with them. Then, roused 
to a religious frenzy beyond belief, as they stood listening 
to the words of the illuminated cafiiz or mamaluco — for 
history has not preserved his name — women strove with 
one another who should be the first to offer up her child, 
so that its blood should split the rock and form the sa- 
cred stair, by which the King, the long lamented Dom 
Sebastian, should ascend in glory, bringing back peace 
and plenty upon earth. ... A common-sense historian 
(Cunninghame-Graham refers to Araripe Junior's 
Reino Encantado) says that for days the rocks ran 
blood. ..." 

Further incident is unnecessary to a notion of the ser- 
tanejos' mystic habit of mind and action. The Brazilian 
government became in their eyes a rule of dogs, and their 


favourite phrase for the republic was a lei do cdo (the 
law of the dog) . In the popular quatrains that Euclydes 
da Cunha collected are found merged the hatred of the 
sertanejos for the governing class of Brazil, their mll- 
lenlal hope in Dom Sebastian and their faith in Antonio 
surnamed Conselheiro (I. e., the Councillor) as the de- 
liverer from all evil. 

O Anti-Christo nasceu 
Para o Brazil governar 
Mas ahi esta O Conselheiro 
Para delle nos livrar. 

Antichrist was born 

To govern poor Brazil, 

But God raised up our Councillor 

To save us from that ill. ^ 

Garantidos pela lei 
Aquelles malvados estao. 
Nos temos a lei de Deus 
Elles tern a lei do cao. 

Protected by the law 

Are those wretches in their lairs. 

Ours is the law of God, 

The law of the dog is theirs. 

Visita nos vem fazer 
Nosso rei D. Sebastlao. 

s I quote the translation of this quatrain from Cunninghame-Graham. 
The third quatrain, here given as I find it in Os Serfbes, 1914, fifth 
edition, differs in a single unimportant spelling from that used by 
the author of A Brazilian Mystic, who translates it: "Our King, Dom 
Sebastian, will come to visit us and free us from the reign of the dog." 
I do not think this is correct, as the two final lines are a threat to the 
other side. 


Coitado daquelle pobre 
Que estiver na lei do cao! 

Our good King D. Sebastian 

Comes to visit us. 

Pity the poor wretch 

Who supports the law of the dog! 

Cunninghame-Graham, like Euclydes da Cunha, and 
like the better of the Brazilian's critics, feels a strong 
sympathy for the man in whom the new hopes of the 
sertanejos were centred. It is a sympathy, moreover, 
born of the understanding without which all knowledge 
is as fruit turned to ashes in the mouth. The Scot, like 
the Brazilian, is a psychologist. "Antonio Conselheiro 
himself did not so much rebel against authority as 
against life, perhaps expecting from it more than it had 
to give upon the spiritual side, not understanding that 
a fine day, with health to enjoy it, is the most spiritual 
of pleasures open to mankind," he writes, in his amiable, 
worldy-wise (and heavenly-wise) way. And later: 
"When all is said, it is impossible not to sympathize to 
some extent with the misguided sectaries, for all they 
wanted was to live the life they had been accustomed to 
and sing their litanies. Clearly Antonio Conselheiro 
had no views on any subject under heaven outside his 
own district. His dreams were fixed upon a better 
world, and his chief care was to fit his followers for the 
change that he believed was to take place soon." 

It is Verisslmo, who, with his almost unerring Insight, 
extracts from his countryman's book its central signifi- 
cance. Here is a volume that is a remarkable com- 
mentary upon the formation of all religions, "without 


excepting our own Christianity. In another milieu, 
under other conditions, Antonio Conselheiro is a Christ, 
a Mohammed, a Messiah, one of the many Mahdis, 
creators of religions in that fecund soil of human belief 
which is Asia. In the sertao, friends and enemies and 
even the constituted authorities, hold him (i. e., Antonio 
Maciel, the people's councillor) as a good, honest, up- 
right man, despite the legend — and is it only a legend? — 
which attributes to a tragic matricide his transformation 
from a business man into a religious preacher, his life as 
a saint and a missionary of the sertao." 

I find that I have spoken as much of Cunninghame- 
Graham as of the Brazilian in whom he found his most 
important source; that is because the Scotsman's book 
is the best possible revelation in English of the remark- 
able account given by Euclydes da Cunha. 

Os Sertoes stands alone in the nation's literature; we, 
in ours, have no book to parallel it in spirit, purport or 
accomplishment. Yet even today there are regions to 
which a similar method might be applied, for Verissimo's 
words about Asia seem to cover the United States as well, 
— in less degree, of course, but for our purpose with equal 
patness. More, a close reading of the government's ap- 
plication of force to a situation that might have yielded to 
less warlike methods, — or, at least, that might have been 
managed without the necessity of the final massacre — 
could teach something to all governmental departments 
that are brought into contact with alien or extra-social 
groups which must be incorporated into the national en- 
tity. Os Sertoes is the best answer to the young Brazil- 
ian regionalists who have made the book a rallying-point. 


Here is a volume — and a thick, compact volume it is — 
dealing in quasi-reportorial spirit with a brief incident in 
the most hidden recesses of the national interior; it was 
not written with belles-lettres in mind; it is strewn with 
terms and processes of thought that baffle the ordinary 
reader. Yet the man who composed it was a vibrant per- 
sonality, and whether knowingly or unwittingly, he made 
the book a symbol, — a symbol of uncomprehending per- 
secution, of human fanaticism, of religious origins, of 
man's instinctive seeking after something higher. It is 
true that the persecution was in part necessary, that the 
aspect of fanaticism here revealed is most repugnant, that 
the spectacle of religious origins does not flatter our 
unctuous, supposedly civilized, superior souls. But it is 
true, likewise, that we must gaze into such depths as 
these to remind ourselves occasionally that we dwell in 
these inferiors. Such is the wisdom of Euclydes da 
Cunha, of Richard Cunninghame-Graham, of Jose Ver- 



OLIVERIA LIMA belongs, more than to the 
history of Brazilian letters, to the history of 
Brazilian culture. He is an integral part of 
that culture and his life, coincidentally, runs parallel with 
the emergence of Brazil into an honoured position among 
the nations of the world. Once, in a happy phrase, the 
Swedish writer Goran Bjorkman, a corresponding mem- 
ber of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, characterized 
him aptly as "Brazil's intellectual ambassador to the 
world," and the phrase has stuclc because it so eminently 
fitted the modest, indefatigable personality to whom it 
was applied. In a sense Oliveira Lima has been, too, 
the world's intellectual ambassador to Brazil; he has 
seen service literally in every corner of the globe, — in 
Argentina as in the United States, in Japan as in France, 
Belgium, Sweden and Germany. Wherever he has come 
he has torn aside the dense veil of ignorance that has 
hidden Brazil from the eyes of none too curious for- 
eigners; from wherever he has gone he has sent back 
to his native land solidly written, well considered vol- 
umes upon the civihzation of the old world and the 
new. In both the physical and the intellectual sense 
he has been, largely, Brazil's point of contact with the 
rest of the world. And the nation has been most for- 



tunate in that choice, for Manoel de Oliveira Lima, 
most "undiplomatic" of diplomats, is the most human of 
men. He is, in the least spectacular sense of the word, 
an inspirer, not of words but of deeds. Trace his 
itinerary during the past twenty-five years and it is a 
miniature map of a double enlightenment. If diplomacy 
is ever to achieve anything hke genuine internationality, 
it must travel some such path as this. And I dare say 
that Senhor Oliveira Lima is one of the rare precursors 
of just such a diplomacy. The example of his career 
has helped to raise that office from one of sublimated 
social hypocrisy to the dignity of lofty human inter- 

Manoel de Oliveira Lima was born on December 
25th, 1867, in the city of Recife, Pernambuco, — that state 
of which Silveira Martins has strikingly declared that 
the Brazilian gaucho — indomitable defender of the 
nation's frontiers — was simply a Pernambucan on horse- 
back. He was sent early to Portugal to complete his 
education, becoming one of the favourite students of 
the noted historian Oliveira Martins; at the age of 
twenty-one he received the degree of Doctor of Phi- 
losophy and Letters from the University of Lisbon and 
set out, after a couple of years, upon his career of di- 
plomacy, into which he was initiated by Carvalho Borges 
and the Baron de Itajuba. 

"Oliveira Lima never wrote verses," declared Salva- 
dor de Mendonca once in a speech of welcome. "I 
believe that, with the exception of the Lusiads^ all poems 
are to him like the Colombo of Porto Alegre to the 
readers of our literature, an unknown land awaiting 
some Columbus to discover it. Like an old philosopher 


friend of mine, who doesn't admit monologues or asides 
in the theatre because only fools or persons threatened 
with madness converse with themselves, so Oliveira 
Lima finds it hardly natural for people to write in verse, 
for the language of seers was never the spoken tongue. 
His spirit is positive and direct; only curved lines are 
lacking for him to be a geometer. His characteristic 
trait is sincerity; he says only what he thinks is true, 
and says it without beating about the bush, in the ex- 
plicit form of his conviction. I believe that he is but 
a lukewarm admirer of music, and prefers, to the con- 
templation of nature, the study of social phenomena 
and the examination of the human beehive." 

For a Brazilian never to have written verses is in- 
deed almost a violation of the social code, and it may 
be that Senhor Lima's lukewarmness toward music helps 
to explain a certain lack of musicality in his clear but 
compact prose. But lack of poetic appreciation should 
not be inferred from his friend's lines; one has but to 
go through one of Lima's earliest and most solid works, 
Aspectos da Litteratiira Colonial Brazileira, to discover, 
in this original contribution, a deep, unostentatious feel- 
ing for those beautiful emotions we call poetry. 

His literary career, as we have seen, is closely identi- 
fied with his numerous peregrinations. It opened with 
a historical study of his birthplace: Pernambiico, sen 
DesenvoUmento historica (1894), followed two years 
later by the Aspectos. Thereafter is pursued, rather 
closely, the travels of Lima, resulting in Nos Estados 
Unidos ( 1899), a work of uneven value upon the United 
States, No Japao, (1903), a more mature volume upon 
the land of the rising sun, countless speeches and series 


of lectures delivered in the universities of both hemi- 
spheres — now at the Sorbonne, now at the University of 
Louvaine, at Harvard, Yale, Stanford University and 
lesser institutions — and always upon his favourite theme : 
the history of Brazilian and Latin- American culture. 
Out of these lectures have arisen more than one of his 
books, some of them originally delivered in English 
and French; for Lima is an accomplished linguist, em- 
ploying English and French with ease and speaking Ger- 
man, Italian and Spanish as well. 

It is history that forms his main interest; even when 
he makes a single attempt — and not a highly successful 
one — at the drama, his Secretario d'El Rey (The 
King's Secretary, 1904) turns upon the historic figure 
of Alexandre de Gusmao in the days of 1738. It is 
worth while noting, as a commentary upon Lima's un- 
fanatic patriotism, that he justly considers this work a 
Brazilian drama, though the action takes place in Por- 
tugal. For, "in the first place, our historic period an- 
terior to the Independence necessarily involves so inti- 
mate a connection of the colony with the court that it is 
almost impossible, treating of the one, to lose the other 
from sight. Material communication and above all 
moral relations established a sort of territorial contin- 
uity between both sides of the Atlantic, which formed 
a single fatherland. Besides, the action of the piece 
could hardly have been made to take place in Brazil, 
since the protagonist of the play, perhaps the most illus- 
trious Brazilian of the XVIIIth century, and one whose 
personality merited, as few others, consecration 
upon the stage, lived in Europe from his earliest youth. 
For identical reasons the action of O Poeta e a Inquiscdo 


(The Poet and the Inquisition) by Domingos de Magal- 
haes, our first national tragedy, takes place in Lisbon. 
And finally the author would remind his reader that the 
spirit of his piece is entirely Brazilian, trying to sym- 
bolize — and more direct pretension would be anachron- 
istic — the differentiation which had already begun be- 
tween the mother country and its American colony, 
which was destined to continue and propagate its his- 
toric mission in the new world, and the economic im- 
portance of which was daily becoming more mani- 

It is in history that, with a few exceptions, Lima's 
most enduring work has been performed. He has re- 
created the figure of Dom Joao VI {Dom Jodo no 
Brasil, 2 vols.) ; he has thrown light into dark places 
of the national narrative, particularly in the period 
beginning with the French invasion of Portugal that 
sent John VI to Brazil in 1808 and thus made the colony 
a virtual kingdom, and ending with 1821. "Dr. Lima's 
investigations in hitherto unused sources also led to a 
revision of judgment," wrote Professor P. A. Martin, 
"of many personages and events of the period; an in- 
stance of which is his successful rehabilitation of the 
character of Dom John VI. This sovereign, treated 
with contempt and contumely by the bulk of the Portu- 
guese historians who have never forgiven him for de- 
serting his native land, now appears in a new and de- 
servedly more favorable light. The author makes it 
clear that John's rule In Brazil was as hberal and pro- 
gressive as was desirable in a country in which all 
thorough-going reforms must of necessity be introduced 
gradually. And these same reforms, especially the 

opening of the chief Brazilian ports to the commerce 
of all friendly nations, not only redounded to the im- 
mediate benefit of the country, but what was infinitely 
more important, paved the way for ultimate independ- 
ence." 1 So well, indeed, that the year following 
John's departure is the year of Brazil's complete eman- 

Oliveira Lima's internationalism — employing that 
word in a broader sense than it is usually given in politi- 
cal discussion — is thus at once territorial and spiritual. 
He knows his own country too well to glorify it in the 
unthinking patriotism of a Rocha Pitta; he knows the 
rest of the world too well to harbour faith in the exclu- 
sivistic loyalties that patriotism everywhere connotes. 
His very books, as if to symbolize his universal attitude, 
trace the amphfication of his interests and of his cosmo- 
politan spirit. He began with a study of his birthplace; 
he continued with a study of his nation's colonial letters; 
he then initiated a series dealing with national, historical 
figures and events, in conjunction with books upon the 
four corners of the world. Latterly, as if to round out 
the whole, he has completed a History of Civilization, in- 
tended chiefly for use in Brazil's higher centres of edu- 
cation; but it is far more than a mere text-book. It is 
the natural outgrowth of a dignified lifetime, — the work 
of a man who, early placed in the diplomatic service, 

1 See Introduction to The Evolution of Brazil compared ivitk that of 
Spanish and Anglo-Saxon America. Stanford University, California, 
1914. The introduction, by Professor Percy Alvin Martin, should be read 
with care, as it assigns Lima's year of birth erroneously to the year 1865, 
and gives wrong dates for the Aspectos (1896, not 1906) and Pernambuco 
1894, not 1895) ; moreover, it ascribes to Bjornsterne Bjornsen, instead 
of to Goran Bjorkman, the bestowal upon Lima of the epithet "intellec- 
tual ambassador of Brazil." 


outgrew the confines of that profession because, in simple 
words, he was too human for it. 

"In fact," he himself once declared in a speech, 
"to be a good diplomat is to be able to deceive 
wisely." And Lima has been wiser in goodness than in 

It is easy enough now, with the distance of a few 
years between us and the end of a war that need never 
have been fought, to proclaim a humanistic spiritual 
world-unity. It was not easy for Lima while the war 
was going on; perhaps he, as well as any other, recog- 
nized the futility of his efforts to keep at least the west- 
ern hemisphere of the world sane during the carnage; 
perhaps this was but an example of what one of his 
youthful disciples has called his "quixotism." It was, 
together with these things, a simple, if striking, example, 
of the man's devotion to the truth he sees. 

"Through love of the truth," he said, at a banquet 
given to him in Rio Janeiro in 19 17, "I became a diplo- 
mat, who did not correspond to the ideal of the type, 
despite the remark of a departed friend of mine who 
used to say that I had spent my life lying, in Europe, 
Asia and America, saying, in foreign countries and to 
foreign audiences, that Brazil possesses a dramatic his- 
tory, a brlUIant literature, a promising economy, — in 
short — all the characteristics of a civilization . . ., of 
which my friend, apparently, was sceptical. 

"Through love of the truth, I am now a journalist 
who ought to correspond to the ideal of the type, and if 
I do not, it Is for the simple reason that in a certain 
sense, truth is the most burdensome luggage a person can 
carry through life, for it is always getting into our way. 


I don't see why it should be inculcated with such arduous 
effort — and, paradoxically, a sincere effort — into the 
souls of children, since, in their future life it can cause 
so much trouble to those of us who continue to invoke 
and apply what was taught us as a virtue." 

If Lima has been an undiplomatic diplomat, he is an 
unjournalistic journalist. As another paradox in his life, 
this man of Brazilian birth, Portuguese education and 
tri-continental wanderings has settled down in Washing- 
ton, D. C, having presented his remarkable library to 
the Catholic University. Back from his present home 
he sends, to be sure, political chronicle and such chat, 
but also literary letters that are read with avidity by a 
youth whom he is strongly influencing. This is the 
stuff out of which a number of his books have grown; 
it is the sort of journalism that Bernard Shaw has 
boasted about, because of its intimate relation to signif- 
icant, immediate life. 

That he has chosen the United States for his per- 
manent home sufficiently indicates a predilection early 
evidenced in his book upon this country; but that prefer- 
ence is neither blind nor unreasoned, any more than his 
Pan-Americanism is the hollow proclamation that de- 
ceives nobody less than alert South Americans. In his 
attitude to our nation he is candid, direct, with the reserve 
of a Marti, a Rodo, a Verissimo, only that he knows us 
more intimately than did those sterling spirits. At the 
end of a series of lectures dedicated to the then Presi- 
dent of Leland Stanford Junior University, John Casper 
Branner, "distinguished scientist, eminent scholar and 
true friend of Brazil," and delivered at that university, 
as well as others of this country, Lima declared that 


"The filiation and evolution of Portuguese America are 
separate from those of Spanish America; not Infre- 
quently, nay frequently rather, was this evolution hostile 
to that of Spanish America; but today they have common. 
Identical Interests, and a desire for a closer approxima- 
tion appears so reciprocal that this movement becomes 
every day more pronounced and more firmly rooted. 
For Pan-Amerlcanism to be complete. It would be neces- 
sary for the United States to ally Itself with Latin 
America, with the Importance, the Influence, the prestige, 
the superiority to which Its civilization entitles it — It 
would not be human to do otherwise — but without any 
thought, expressed or reserved, of direct predominance, 
which offends the weaker element and renders it suspici- 

"It Is this which those who, like myself, know and es- 
teem the United States, — and the best way of showing 
one's esteem Is not by praising unreservedly, — are hoping 
will come as the result of the great university movement 
which is gradually crystallizing in this country. Here 
idealism is a feature of the race (nor would you without 
It belong to a superior race), an Ideal so noble and ele- 
vated as that of respect for the right of others, as that 
of human solidarity through the unification of culture. 
The great statesman who now presides over the destinies 
of the Argentine Republic, proclaimed at the First Pan- 
American Conference, at Washington, that America be- 
longed to all humanity, not to a fraction of It; and in- 
deed America is and will continue to be more and more 
the field for the employment of European capital, of 
study for European scholars, of commerce for European 
merchants, of activity for European immigration. Only 


thus will the New World fulfil its historical and social 
mission and redeem the debt contracted with Europe, 
which has given it its civilization." ^ 

This is an example of that "Spirit of peace and con- 
cord to which I have ever subordinated my spiritual 
activity." ^ 

As an investigator, Lima has always gone to the 
sources; he has the born historian's patience with detail, 
and if he lacks the music of a seductive prose, he com- 
pensates for this more purely literary grace with a gift 
for vivifying the men and events of the past. Thus, if 
his sole venture into the historical drama has been un- 
productive of dramatic beauty, his historical writings 
abound in passages of colourful, dramatic power. Car- 
los Pereyra, himself a prolific writer upon American 
history, has, in his Spanish translation of Lima's His- 
toric Formation of the Brazilian Nationality, compared 
him to such painters of the soul as Frans Hals. "Olive- 
Ira Lima paints portraits In the fashion of Hals. Thus 
we behold his personages not only in the ensemble of the 
canvas and in the external perfection of each figure, but 
in that mysterious prolongation that carries us into the 
intimate shadows of the personality. . . ." 

Lima's eclecticism is but the natural result of his 
residence in many parts of the world; It is also an aspect 
of a spiritual tolerance which is a trait of his personality, 
and which despite his "historic Catholicism" evokes, even 
from an unbeliever, the simple tribute which In this mod- 

'2 Lima here refers to Dr. Roque Saenz-Pena, inaugurated 1910. The 
citation is from Lecture VI (and last) ; the series was delivered in Eng- 

3 See Preface to his book on Argentina (1920, Spanish version, Buenos 


est essay I seek to render as much to that personality as 
to any of Its products. 

As for his growing influence upon the youth of Brazil, 
I will let one of the most promising of those young men 
speak for his colleagues. Writes Senhor Gilberto de 
Mello Freyre, ^ "This independence of view and attitude 
explains the fascination that he exercises over the in- 
tellectual youth of Brazil. ... He is generous toward 
the newcomers, without for that reason being easy with 
his praise. On the contrary, he is discreet. His gen- 
erosity never reaches the extremes of indulgence. His 
intellectual hospitality has been great; he has been 
a sort of bachelor uncle to the nation's 'enfants 
terribles.' He was one of the first to proclaim the 
powerful, strange talents of Euclydes da Cunha. He 
has sponsored other youthful intellects whose brilliant 
future he can foresee, such as Sr. Assis Chateaubriand, 
Sr. Antonio Carneiro Leao, Sr. Mario Mello, Sr. Annibal 

There are men whose lives are the best books they 
have written; to this company Manoel de Oliveira Lima 
belongs. He has identified himself so completely with 
the cultural history of his nation that, as I said at the 
beginning, he is an integral part of it, and if his works 
were removed from the national bookshelf, a yawning 
gap would be left. That is the better nationalism, to 
which he has devoted an unchauvinistic career of the 
higher patriotism. He has, on the other hand, become 
so essentially cosmopolitan as to have earned the rare 
title of world-citizen. If more diplomats have not been 
able to reconcile these two supposed "opposites," it is not 

* In a recent letter to me. 


because such a patriotism is incompatible with the inter- 
national mind, but because under their ceremonial clothes 
they hide the age-old predatory heart and serve the age- 
old predatory interests. Lima has not labelled others, 
and I am not going to label him; men, like countries, must 
remain ever different. But countries, like men, may 
bridge the gulf of difference by patient understanding, 
and the rivers of blood that flow under those bridges must 
be the blood of human tolerance and aid, not the blood 
of barter and battle. It would be easy to point out a 
certain "conservatism" in Lima, as in more than one 
other, and yet, if it be possible for us to live in anything 
but the present, he is a man of the future, for he has al- 
ways dwelt above boundaries, above battles, above most 
of the sublimated childishness which we grown-ups pom- 
pously call "the serious business of the world." 


GRACA ARANHA, like Euclydes da Cunha 
(from whom in so many other respects he is so 
different), is a man virtually of a single book. 
And, as Os Sertoes in 1902 created so profound an im- 
pression upon Brazilian letters as to suggest a partial re- 
orientation of the national literature, so, in the same 
year, did the appearance of Aranha's Chanaan work a 
profound change in the Brazilian novel. Much Ink has 
been spilled about it and often, if not generally, in 
that exalted rhetorical mood for which the Ibero-Amer- 
ican critic does not lack models abroad; upon the strength 
of Chanaan alone, Senhor Costa (and not entirely with- 
out justice) has created a new phase of the national 
novel: the critlco-philosophlcal; Guglielmo Ferrero, the 
noted Italian historian, a corresponding member of the 
Brazilian Academy of Letters, made It known to 
Europe with his fulsome praise of it as the great Ameri- 
can novel, — a term that had already been applied to 
Maria (by the Colombian Jorge Isaacs) and Taunay's 
Innocencia. There is a distinct basis for comparison be- 
tween Innocencia and the more famous tale from Colom- 
bia; between these and Chanaan, however, there is little 
similarity, if one overlooks the poetic atmosphere that 
glamours all three. Aranha's book is of far broader 



conception than the other two ; It adds to their lyricism 
an epic sweep Inherent In the subject and very soon felt 
In the treatment. It is, In fact, a novel difficult to clas- 
sify. Impregnated as It is with a noble, Tolstolan ideal- 
Ism, yet just as undoubtedly streaked with an unrelent- 
ing realism so often coupled with the name of Zola. Yet 
one does not perceive too plainly an Inept mingling 
of genres; the style Is a mirror of the vast theme — that 
moment at which the native and the Immigrant strains 
begin to merge In the land of the future — the promised 
land that the protagonists are destined never to enter, 
even as Moses himself, upon Mount Nebo In the land of 
Moab, beheld Canaan and died In the thrall of the great 

Aranha seems truly to have been called to this task 
rather than to have chosen It. He Is cosmopolitan by 
culture as well as training. Himself a descendant of an 
old family, he has not been hampered by the false aris- 
tocracy of the family, else how could he have composed 
the epic of Brazil's melting-pot? He has served his 
nation at home and abroad, having been secretary to 
Joaquim 'Nabuco when that diplomat went to Italy to 
settle before the king the boundary dispute between 
Brazil and Great Britian in the matter of British Guiana; 
he was Brazilian minister at Chrlstianla, and later Pleni- 
potentiary for Brazil at The Hague. He Is philosophi- 
cally, critically inclined; he knows not only the Latin 
element of his nation, but the Teutonic as well; his native 
exuberance has been tempered by a serenity that is the 
product of European Influence, In which may be reckoned 
a tithe of English. 

Chanaan Is of those novels that centre about an en- 


thralling Idea. The type that devotes much attention 
to depictions of life and customs, to discussions of 
present realities and ultimate purposes, is perhaps more 
frequent among Spanish and Portuguese Americans than 
among our own readers, who are too apt to be over- 
insistent In their demands for swift, visible external ac- 
tion. Yet, In the hands of a master. It possesses no less 
Interest — for myself, I freely say more — than the more 
obvious type of fiction. Ideas possess more life than the 
persons who are moved by them. 

The Idea that carries Mllkau from the Old World to 
the New is an Ideal of human brotherhood, high pur- 
pose and dissatisfaction with the old, degenerate hemi- 
sphere. In the State of Espirlto Santo, where the Ger- 
man colonists are dominant, he plans a simple life that 
shall drink Inspiration in the youth of a new, virgin 
continent. He falls in with another German, Lentz, 
whose outlook upon life Is at first the very opposite to 
Mllkau's blend of Christianity and a certain liberal So- 
cialism. The strange milieu breeds In both an Intellectual 
languor that vents itself in long discussions, in brooding 
contemplation, mirages of the spirit. Mllkau Is gradually 
struck with something wrong in the settlement. Little 
by little It begins to dawn upon him that attributes akin 
to the Old-World hyprocrisy, fraud and insincerity are 
contaminating this supposedly virgin territory. Here he 
discovers no paradise a la Rousseau — no natural man 
untainted by the ills of civilization. Graft Is as rampant 
as in any district of the world across the sea; cruelty is 
as rife. His pity Is aroused by the plight of Mary, a 
destitute servant who Is betrayed by the son of her em- 
ployers. Not only does the scamp desert her when she 


most needs his protection and acknowledgment, but he 
is silent when his equally vicious parents drive her forth 
to a life of intense hardship. She is spurned at every 
door and reduced to beggary. Her child is born under 
the most distressing of circumstances and devoured by 
a pig before her very eyes, as she gazes helplessly on. 

Mary is accused of infanticide, and since she lacks 
witnesses, is placed In an extremely difficult position. 
Moreover, the father of her child bends every effort 
to loosen the harshest measures of the community 
against her, whereupon Milkau, whose heart is open to 
the griefs of the universe, has another opportunity to 
behold man's inhumanity to woman. His pity turns to 
what pity is akin to; he effects her release from jail, and 
together they go forth upon a journey that ends In the 
delirium of death. The promised land has proved a 
mirage — at least for the present. And it is upon this 
indecisive note that the book comes to a close. 

Ferraro,^' in his introduction to the book is substan- 
tial and to the point. It is natural that he should 
have taken such a liking to the novel, for Aranha's work 
is of intense interest to the reader who looks for psycho- 
logical insight, and Ferrero himself is the exponent of his- 
tory as psychology rather than as economic materialism. 
"The critics," he says, "will judge the hterary merits of 
this novel. As a literary amateur, I will point out among 
its qualities the beauty of its style and its descriptions, 
the purity of the psychological analysis, the depth of 
the thoughts and the reflections of which the novel is full, 
and among Its parts a certain disproportion between the 

1 See, for citations from Ferrero and Chanaan, the English version of 
the book (Boston, 1920) by M. J. Lorente. 


different parts of the book and an ending which is too 
vague, indefinite, and unexpected. But its literary quali- 
ties seem to me to be of secondary importance to the pro- 
found and incontrovertible idea that forms the kernel 
of the book. Here in Europe we say that modern civil- 
ization develops itself in America more freely than in 
Europe, for in the former country it has not to sur- 
mount the obstacle of an older society, firmly established 
as in the case of the latter. Because of this we call 
America 'the country of the young,' and we consider the 
New World as the great force which decomposes the 
old European social orginization." That idea is, as 
Ferrero points out, and as Milkau discovered for himself, 
an illusion due to distance. Ferrero points out, too, 
that here is everywhere "an old America struggling 
against a new one and, what is very curious, the new 
America, which upsets traditions, is formed above all 
by the European immigrants who seek a place for them- 
selves in the country of their adoption, whereas the real 
Americans represent the conservative tendencies. 
Europe exerts on American society — through its emi- 
grants — the same dissolving action which America ex- 
erts — through its novelties and its example — on the old 
civilization of Europe." The point is very well taken, 
and contains the germ of more than one great novel of 
the United States. And just as Chanaan stands by itself 
in Brazilian literature, so might such a novel achieve pre- 
eminence in our own. 

"It is probable," says Milkau to Lentz during one of 
their numerous discussions, in words that may have 
suggested this criticism to Ferrero and that may be 
applicable to our own nation, — "it is probable that our 


fate will be to transform this country from top to bot- 
tom, to substitute another civilization for all the culture, 
religion and traditions of a people. It is a new conquest, 
slow, dour, peaceful in Its means, but terrible in its 
ambitious schemes. The substitution must be so pure 
and luminous that upon It may not fall the bitter curse 
of devastation. In the meantime we are a dissolvent of 
the race of this country. We soak into the nation's clay 
and soften it; we mix ourselves with the natives and kill 
their traditions, and spread confusion among them. . . . 
No one will understand anyone else; there Is a confusion 
of tongues ; men coming from everywhere — bring with 
them the images of their several gods; they are all aUen to 
each other; there is no communion of thought; men and 
women do not make love to each other in the same words. 
. . . Everything is disintegrating; one civilization falls 
and is transformed into an unknown one. . . . The re- 
modelling of the nation is being set back. There is 
tragedy in the soul of a Brazilian when he feels that 
his race will not last for evermore. The law of nature 
is that like begets like. . . . And here tradition is broken; 
the father will not transmit his own Image to his son; 
the language Is dying; the old aspirations of the race, 
the deep-rooted desires for a distinct individuality, will 
become dumb; the future will not understand the past." ^ 
Ferrero Is quite right in Indicating the great non-liter- 
ary importance of the novel; indeed, Brazilian criticism, 
as a whole, has in the consideration of Chanaan been so 

2 In sui'ch passages as these Senhor Aranha seems to fall into the exag- 
geration of that very imagination which he has sought to interpret to 
foreigners. Araripe Junior, in a study of Gregorio Mattos, coined the 
word obnulation to signify the transformation worked upon early settlers 
by their new surroundings, — ^a retrogressive subsidence into the savage 
state. Here Milkau seems at once to fear and prophesy a new "obnulation," 


dazzled by the language and the social implications of 
the novel that it has overlooked or condoned its struc- 
tural defects as a work of art. But not all readers will 
agree with Ferrero, I imagine, as to the excessive vague- 
ness of the end. Hardly any other type of ending would 
have befitted a novel that treats of transition, of a 
landscape that enthralls, of possibilities that founder, not 
through the malignance of fate so much as through the 
stupidity, the cupidity, the crassness of man. There Is 
an epic swirl to the finale that reminds one of the dis- 
appearance of an ancient deity In a pillar of dust. For 
an uncommon man like Milkau an uncommon end was 
called for. 

In this novelized document upon Brazil's racial prob- 
lems and popular customs a certain and facile symbolism 
seems to inhere. Milkau Is, as we have seen, the blend 
of Christianity and Socialism, — two concepts which, for 
all their recent historic enmity, are closely related, though 
by no means identical, In philosophical background. 
Lentz Is the apostle of NIetzscheanism. Mary Is the suf- 
fering land, a prey to the worse elements. The pot that 
melts the peoples melts their philosophies. So are they 
fused in this book, which terminates In a cloud, as of the 
first smoke to rise from the crucible. 

Chanaan Is not, for all Its novelty and substantiality, 
the "splendid alliance of artistic perfection and moral 
grandeur" that one of its countless panegyrists has dis- 
covered It to be. Neither does it contain that mixture of 
Ibsen, Tolstoi, Zola, Sudermann, Maeterlinck and Ana- 
tole France which was found in It by an editorial writer In 
the Jornal do Commercio. Even Verisslmo, it seems to 
jne, exaggerated the artistic importance of the novel In his 


enthusiasm — a rare thing in Verissimo — over the newness 
and the social significance of the book. He speaks of 
its drama as being "curto, rapido e intenso," yet surely 
there is nothing "brief" or "rapid" in the telling of 
Chanaan, though intense it undoubtedly is. "New in 
theme," he wrote, "new in inspiration and conception, 
new in style, Chanaan is the first and only manifestation 
worthy of appreciation among the new spiritual and 
social currents that are everywhere influencing litera- 
ture and art. This novel brought to literature, not only 
Brazilian but Portuguese as well, human and social pre- 
occupations, and modern forms of expression. . . . 
It may well be that chronologically some other came be- 
fore him, but in art excellency is more important than pri- 
ority. . . . This is the first novel of its kind in Brazil or 
Portugal. One may note the lack of action, that is, a 
more or less complicated plot. . . . Chanaan, then, be- 
longs in the category of contemporary literature. The 
intense drama that animates it is chiefly internal, but the 
feelings, the sensations, the ideas vibrate in it like deeds." 
Like deeds, in truth, for feelings, sensations and ideas are 
the raw material of action; more, the motive power itself 
of "action." Verissimo is not so much blind to the artis- 
tic deficiencies of Chanaan as he is unmindful of them. 
He readily grants that "not all the episodes adjust them- 
selves perfectly to the central action of the novel or even 
to the general fact that it presents. ... In a detailed 
analysis of the architecture of the book perhaps other 
objections would be possible, but contemplating the struc- 
ture as a whole — and this is how a work of art should be 
viewed — the impression is one of solid beauty. Chanaan 
Is truly a work of talent in the most noble acceptation and 


the rarest application of that word. With its generous 
inspiration, its penetrating symbolism and its moving 
lyricism . . . with its wealth of ideas and sensations 
and its rare emotional sincerity, what is perhaps most 
admirable in Graga Aranha's novel is the difficult union 
' — intimate and perfect in this book — of the loftiest ideal- 
ism and the most inviting realism." 

Costa, as we have seen, has centred a new epoch of 
the Brazilian novel around this one work, which he con- 
siders to have fixed the moment of transition that is so 
eloquently suggested in the passage from Milkau given 
above. "The problem of immigration was disquieting," 
he writes. "Moreover, as reaction against French 
culture," (a reaction that is now again to the fore) "the 
only culture that dominated without rivalry in Brazil, 
our men of letters began to read the German authors: 
Goethe, Kant, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche. It was a mo- 
ment of mental elaboration, — an elan, a great hope, a 
fertile stirring of ideas, and, at the same time, there was 
doubt as to one's powers of resistance, incertitude, 
puerile indecision, vague, formless aspirations, — that 
state of semi-lethargy, with acute intermittent crises of 
vitality, which characterizes the periods of transition 
amongst individuals and nations, the burgeoning of the 
youthful intelligence of a new people, the first attempts 
at independence, the will to learn and to produce, to 
affirm and to acquire the consciousness of one's worth 
as a nation amongst the nations. It was in this period 
that there took place the most memorable event in the 
intellectual life of Brazil: the foundation of the Brazil- 
ian Academy of Letters. . . . Graga Aranha is, perhaps, 
the fusion of two different cultures." This is evident in 


Chanaan, I may add in passing, without any reference to 
the known facts of the man's life and his education. 
And though it may be studied in his book, from him it 
flowed into the narrative out of his very nature. He 
is, again in Costa's words, "the focal point of two vigor- 
ous and independent Brazilian thinkers: Tobias Barreto 
and Joaquim Nabuco. The mysterious power of the race, 
its abandon, its sensual basis, its curiosity for learning — 
revealing a little the rudimentary traits of the mixed 
breed — , the power of conception, the absolutist tendency, 
that make and are the strength of Tobias Barreto, en- 
counter, in the manner of the law of compensation, a 
moderating force, a stabilization of values in theApol- 
lonian genius of Joaquim Nabuco, in the Aryan clarity of 
his ideas, the Hellenic grace of his concepts, the bril- 
liancy of his rhythmic style, so elegant, delicate and noble, 
— in the loftiness of his thoughts, in his civilized relati- 
vism. There are not in Brazil two spirits, two esthetics, 
that are more different from, more antagonistic to, 
each other. The first, despite his vast learning, his ad- 
miration for and bedazzlement before European thought, 
is in every attitude, every phrase, every gesture, an 
American, Brazilian, an exuberant son of the tropics, 
sensual and barbarous; the second, despite his love of 
his native land, despite his devotion ... is, in his 
thought, in manner, in tastes, in soul, in ideas and affec- 
tions, in pleasures and in style, a European, a Latin, a 
descendant in direct line of Greek culture. Graga 
Aranha, by a phenomenon that I discover in his style, 
has succeeded, — at the same time retaining complete in- 
dependence, — in effecting an alliance between two op- 
posite poles, the harmonious conjunction of these two 


different principles, the integration into a single beauti- 
ful and lofty form of these two contradictory esthetics. 
He has transformed the sensualism of Tobias Barreto 
into voluptuousness and the eloquence of Joaquim Nabuco 
into poetry." 

Costa has stated the case with tropical luxuriance of 
phrase and feeling; perhaps one must be a Brazilian 
to see all this — as art — in the novel to which it is applied. 
Take up the book in and for itself, as a product of a 
sensitive imagination transmuting the elements of ex- 
perience into a new reality, and it contains, surely, all 
the qualities that its most intense admirers discover, but 
in less degree. Milkau is really the only character in 
the novel; he is the soloist. Too many of the beauti- 
ful thoughts remain here as isolated by-products of con- 
versation rather than living emanations of interplay of 
emotions. There is a certain hesitancy as to form, which 
is now the frank dialogue of the stage, now the exal- 
tation of a nativist hymn in a manner recalling, though of 
course not repeating, Rocha Pitta. Milkau himself, 
speaking doubtless for Aranha, says that "man is not gov- 
erned by ideas; he is governed by feelings," yet, so like 
the wise men who discover that simple truth, continues to 
expatiate upon the ideas. Could his sentence, indeed, 
have originated in one of simple feelings? The very rec- 
ognition that feeling dominates us is a token that it has 
ceased to dominate entirely. This is another excellent 
reason for that indecisive close of the book to which 
Ferrero objected, for Milkau is caught in a mesh of in- 
decision. It reveals, in the author, one of the sources 
of his own indecision as to form; but in the novel some- 


thing of that uncertainty is felt in the telling, and in- 
terferes with one's complete enjoyment in the epoch-mak- 
ing book. Yet, strangely enough, out of the weakness 
of the separate parts is forged a strength of the whole. 
Once again, the book becomes the mirror of the folk 
who people it, for out of the weakness of the individual 
would Milkau make the strength of human solidarity. 
"My eyes cannot reach the limits of the Infinite," he 
cries at the very end. "My sight is limited to what sur- 
rounds you. . . . But I tell you, if this is going to end 
so that the cycle of existence may be repeated again else- 
where, or if some day we will be extinguished with the 
last wave of heat coming from the maternal bosom of 
earth, or if we be smashed with it in the Universe and be 
scattered like dust on the roads of the heavens, let us not 
separate from each other in this attitude of hatred. . . . 
I entreat you and your innumerable descendants, let us 
reconcile ourselves with each other before the coming 
of Death. . . ." 

To sum up the artistic aspect of the case, I would say 
— with all admiration for the novel Chanaan and its 
countless fascinating moments of speech, attitude and 
vision — that the book itself is even in this respect a 
mirror, a symbol, of its people and its problems: it is 
a high promise rather than the perfect fulfilment that 
so many of its critics would see in it. It ascends the 
literary Mount Nebo, gazes toward the Promised Land, 
but does not enter. It is one of the peaks of Brazilian 
literature, both artistically (for detail) and historically 
(as a whole), but I dare say that its artistic importance 
will diminish as its historic significance increases. One's 


sharper critical examination of the book is a tribute to 
its disturbing qualities and its peculiar individuality 
among the products of the modern novel. 

Its historic Importance Is less to be questioned, though 
It has not created a school. Costa's very characteri- 
zation of it as a critico-philosophlcal novel contains a 
criticism, which is further brought out In his short con- 
cluding chapter upon his personal theory regarding the 
Brazilian novel. For here he suggests as the coming 
type what he calls the esthetico-social novel, — "the theory 
of art for art's sake employed In representing the social 
moment of a people." I am not concerned with this 
Inartistic theory; Inartistic because it would choose the 
subject for the artist, who alone has the right to select 
and combine his materials. Neither am I concerned with 
Costa's uncomprehending attitude toward the Russian 
novel, In which he can find only folly, cruelty and delir- 
ium ! It Is a large world, and we must each write what 
Is In ourselves, not what preceptive critics would order to 
fit in with their clamping theories. But I wish to point 
out that Costa's employment of the word esthetic in his 
term for the novel of Brazil's future indicates, for all his 
praise of the Aranha book, a sense of something lacking 
In Chanaan. 

"The philosophy of Graca Aranha, ... is a phi- 
losophy of hope, of Intoxication, before the glorious 
majesty of nature; It Is like a magnificent flower of dream, 
life, desire, aspiration toward happiness, which returns 
incessantly to the august bosom of the eternal Pan. 
Man passes on; he is a particle of dust that is blown 
for a moment across the earth. His whole struggle aims 


to merge him with nature, through religion, through 
love, through philosophy. It is this unceasing anxiety 
to dissolve into something superior to ourselves that 
produces the great mystics, the great lovers or the great 
philosophers; yet, at bottom, life in itself is worth what 
the dust is worth that glitters for an instant in the sun's 
rays. . . . Such surely is the philosophy of Graca 
Aranha; a sunflower gilded by thought, it turns eternally 
toward fleeting happiness, in a perpetual desire to merge 
with it and drink in the light through its petals. . . . 
Flower of serene, victorious life, but with distant roots 
in the banks of the Ganges, nurtured by a vague pessi- 
mism, in nihilism, in incipient anarchy, in the everlasting 
beatitude of Nirvana. . . ." 

This is the poetry of criticism, as Chanaan is the 
poetry of the novel, — a poetry not unlike Alencar's 
Giiarany, yet as unlike as Alencar was to Aranha. 
Like Aranha's novel, so this criticism, for all its preoccu- 
pation with Brazilianism, is the result of European cul- 
ture acting upon the native spirit. It is but another rev- 
elation of the literary axiom that renaissance springs 
from the impact of foreign influences; parthenogenesis 
is as rare In literature as in life. 


AS Bilac is the poet of Brazilian voluptuousness, 
Coelho Netto is its novelist. But there is this 
essential difference: Bilac etches his lines while 
Netto splashes the colours over his canvas with unthink- 
ing prodigaHty. Bilac is the silver stream ghttering along 
through the landscape that it reflects with the transmut- 
ing touch of its own borrowed silver; Netto is the gush- 
ing torrent that sweeps everything along in its path, part 
and parcel of the surrounding exuberance. 

"Our literature lacks original character," says the 
talkative Gomes in A Capital Federal, one of Netto's 
earliest novels (1893), — less a novel, indeed, than a 
series of impressions in which not the least element is 
the fairly unceasing chatter of its persons. "It is not 
really a national literature because, unhappily, nobody 
concerns himself with the nation. The eyes of our 
poets scan the constellations of other heavens, the waters 
of other rivers, the verdure of other forests." Again: 
"We are still a people in process of formation, — still 
at the beginning of life and yet, at the age when Greece 
was lyrical, in the youthful days in which all men try 
to compose poems of religion and hope for the shelter 
of the soul, we despair, we are pessimistic. ... By con- 
viction? Because of suffering? Absolutely not. Scarcely 



by imitation. We lament in the cradle and ask for 
death, Nirvana. We begin reading with the Book of 
Job. Show me our Romantic period, which is, so to 
speak, the adolescence of Art, in its second phase, after 
the renaissance. We had none. We leaped into natu- 
ralism, which is analysis, and already we are headed for 
the cachexy of decadentism. . . ." There is much to 
be said against the plaints of this citation, whether one 
consider its nationalistic implications or Its Insinuation 
that Brazil's Romantic period lacked genuineness. I 
quote it, however, to show that at the very beginning of 
his career Netto intended a conscious reorientation of 
the Brazilian novel away from the naturalism of Aze- 
vedo in the direction of what we may term neo-roman- 
ticlsm. Both men are concerned with what blurred 
thinking so readily calls the baser passions; both are 
sensualists, each envisaging life not so much through a 
different theory as through a different temperament. 

Netto Is the Anselmo Ribas of his early books, wherein 
already appears the voluptuary, the creature of extrav- 
agant language and unbridled imagination, the weaver 
of tangled imagery, the wielder of a copious vocabulary 
that has been estimated at as high as 20,000 words. 
And that voluptuary appears everywhere, in the images, 
the narrative, the thoughts. "Amber-hued wine that 
seems to sing in Its glasses a dithyramb of gold, — im- 
patient wine that seethes and foams, — wine that rages 
like the mighty ocean, — ambrosia of a new era, — live. 
Intelligent wine, — wine with a soul." Such is the wine 
that Is drunk by Ribas and his friend Gomes, who has his 
scents for each colour, sound and feeling. When the 
silks of a lady rustle, the noise Is comparable to the 


sounds "made by the flocks of wild pigeons when they 
raise their flight on the riverbanks of my native prov- 
ince." In his work, as in this simile, his senuousness 
is mingled with the primitivity of mother earth. He 
has written much of the city life, and has traveled with his 
pen through all the forms, but he is strongest when clos- 
est to that primitive urge. I prefer him, for short tales, 
in such an early work as Sertao ; for the novel, in such a 
concise miniature masterpiece as Rei Negro. 

Henrique Maximiano Coelho Netto was born on Feb- 
ruary 21, 1864, in the city of Caxias, department of 
Maranhao, of a Portuguese father and an Indian mother. 
In 1870 the family moved to Rio de Janeiro. From his 
slave attendant Eva he imbibed a wealth of Brazilian folk 
lore; from Maria, the Portuguese housekeeper, he drank 
In (and with what avidity his later work reveals) the 
common heritage of Oriental tales. Another power- 
ful influence (and this, too, Is duly chronicled in A Cap- 
ital Federal) was his uncle Rezende, a book-keeper with 
a taste for the Portuguese and Latin classics. For the 
fundamental traits of Netto as a creative spirit one need 
hardly go farther than these childhood Impressions. 
Here we have his mixed blood, his predilection for the 
native lore and exotic artistry, his preference for the an- 
cient writers and a fondness for the Portuguese classics 
that reveals Itself in his not infrequently archaic lan- 
guage. Some of his pages, Verlssimo has shown, would 
be better understood In Portugal than In Brazil. 

Though his early education lacked method, already at 
the age of eight he read Cicero; he pursued his studies at 
various Institutions, never remaining through the com- 
plete number of years. Like most Brazilians, he began 


with a sonnet, followed by a number of poems which for- 
tunately, he never issued; his newspaper experience com- 
menced in the Gazeta da Tarde, 1887. Unlike most 
Brazilians he wrested a living from the nation by his 
pen, and 1892 found him teaching the history of the arts. 
His restlessness, however, seems to keep him flitting from 
place to place and from interest to interest. In 1900 he 
is found in Campinas teaching literature, remaining for 
three years. In 1909 he is back in Rio at the Gymnasio 
Nacional, lecturing upon letters. From that year until 
19 17 he represents the state of Maranhao In the national 
assembly. Today finds him busily at work revising the 
long list of his labours and issuing them with as keen 
an interest as if they were the first fruits of his imag- 

"Even to this day," he confessed to an Interviewer a 
few years ago, "I feel the Influence of the first period of 
my life In the sertao. It was the histories, the legends, 
the tales heard In my childhood, — Negro stories filled 
with fear, legends of cahoclos palpitant with sorcery, 
tales of white men, the phantasy of the sun, the perfume 
of the forest, the dream of civilized folk. . . . Never 
did the mixture of Ideas and race cease to predominate, 
and even now it makes Itself felt in my eclecticism. . . . 
My Imagination Is the resultant of the soul of Negro, 
cahoclo and white." The criticism is born out by a study 
of his many books, most of which, as the author himself 
would be the first to agree, will be speedily forgotten In 
the excellence of the salient few. 

Neo-romantic though he be, Netto Is no believer in the 
false Indianism that for a time held sway in the native 
letters. His affection for the Portuguese tongue, which 


he considers the most plastic of languages, does not pre- 
clude a belief in a Brazilian literature. Asked whether 
he was religious — and here again reading of his repre- 
sentative books bears witness to his self-knowledge — he 
replied, "Very. I don't know whether I believe in Lord 
Christ, or In Lord Nature, but I believe In the imma- 
nent principle of divinity. And perhaps, for this reason, 
I am one of the rare men who hope." 

"One may say of him," writes Costa, "what Taine 
said of Balzac: 'he is a sort of literary elephant, capable 
of bearing prodigious burdens, but slow of gait.' " And 
before Costa, Netto said of himself that he was a "Trap- 
pist of labor, — what the French call a bete de somme." 
Better than any one else Verissimo, upon whom Costa 
largely draws for his consideration of Netto, has de- 
fined the qualities of the prolific polygraph. Netto has 
tried all the styles; he has from the first revealed that ex- 
uberance which makes of him a splashing colourist, a 
vivid describer of externals, an expert In word pageantry; 
his prose Is often a wild cataract, a tangled forest. He 
Is not a writer of Ideas, but of sensations. Erroneously 
he has termed himself a Hellenist and a primitive, unmind- 
ful, as the scrupulous Verissimo has indicated, that these 
terms In themselves are contradictory. Much of his 
labour Is "literature"; many of the novels are spoiled by 
their evident origin In the desires of newspaper readers; 
his fondness for archaisms offends linguistic common 
sense; even his descriptions, according to the testimony of 
compatriots, are largely Invented, no truer to the native 
scene than are some of his characters to the native life. 
His defects, notably carelessness In structure, are the de- 
fects of improvisation. And yet — for all that his critics 


so justly note, he compels the reader with the peculiar 
fascination that is his own — the attraction of a vol- 
cano in eruption, of a beauty whose very exoticism draws 
even as it repels. 

He is that rare flower of the literary life, — a per- 
sonality. His role has been that of a minor Balzac, 
pouring forth volume after volume in disconcerting and 
damaging confusion, coupled with that of a Maecenas- 
Hugo, encouraging the youth of his nation to ardent 
effort in the arena of letters. "He reproduced," says 
Costa, "unconsciously in his own country what was being 
practised in France consciously by the neo-romantics, 
the idealists, — all those who revolted against the ever- 
increasing asperities of agonizing naturalism." 

Much of what is best in Netto is concentrated in one of 
his earliest books, Sertiio, published in 1896 at Rio de 
Janeiro. This is a collection of some seven tales notable 
for atmosphere, power, poetry. In Praga (Curse), we 
are plunged deep into the past of superstition and sen- 
suality that lies in the sertanejo's breast. Even burning 
with fever, Raymundo wants Lucinda. In his delirium 
he recalls how he tried to rob, and murdered, Mai Dina 
the year before, the crime being laid to gipsies; the 
murdered woman visits him in his visions and he has a 
terrific battle with her; rushing forth from his cabin he 
encounters a colt and mounting it, makes a mad dash, like 
a Mazeppa of the sertao, for the salvation that he feels 
lies in flight. He exhausts his mount and then makes 
his wandering way to Mai Dina's grave; in a frenzy he 
begins to slash right and left with his knife, when a mis- 
directed blow sends him rolling off into a swamp, where 


he meets his end. Not her curse but his conscience has 
wrought retribution. This is a strange mingling of 
reality with fancy, — a sultry realism sprinkled with 
scientific terms and heavy with tropical luxuriance of 
phraseology; but there is poetry, too, — poetry of the in- 
digenous mind, as in the tale that follows: O Enterro 
(The Burial). This account of the burial of the Indian 
witch Tecai, a pagan for whom the pious Christians of 
Itamina refuse even to give a coffin, is really a poem. 
So too, largely, is A Tapera, a tale of mingled legend, 
wild dream and virgin forest, in which the hermit of Santa 
Luzia recounts to the teller, the tale of his beautiful wife 
Leonor. Within a year she proved unfaithful and was 
discovered by her husband's black foster-mother Eva. 
On the night of the discovery she is slain by Eva and to- 
gether they bury her. The husband goes mad, taking it 
into his head that a certain tree follows him vengefuUy 
about. Under that tree one day he digs her up 
and morbidly caresses the skull. After hearing the tale, 
the narrator dashes off on his horse at a mad gallop and is 
told, three days later, that he must have dreamed all this 
in a fever. This is strained situation, no doubt, but 
Netto knows how to produce the Poesque thrill of horror, 
not merely by accumulation of detail but by adroit manip- 
ulation of it. That he may at times achieve simplicity is 
shown in Firm'm, O Vaqueiro, in which the aged cattle- 
man dies amidst the songs and the animals that he loved 
and dominated so well, even as he did the girls of his 
early hey-day. The song of the story might serve as 
the epigraph to much of what Netto has written: 

No coragao de quern ama 
Nasce uma flor que envenena. 


iMorena, essa flor que mata, 
Chama-se paixao, morena. 

In the heart of him who loves 
Is born a flower with poison laden. 
Dark-brown maiden, that flower which slays, — 
They call it passion, dark-brown maiden. 

For sex In Coelho Netto is at once the Fate that snares 
man and woman and the Furies who pursue them. Take 
Cega (Blind), one of the best things he has done; it is a 
powerful tale, instinct with a deep human pity, yet with 
no trace of preceptlveness. Life here goes and comes 
with the radiant indifference of the sun that shines over 
ail and of the crickets that shrill their monotonous ac- 
companiment. Anna Rosa, married to Cabiuna, loses 
her sight at the birth of her child Felicia; then, through 
the fever of the sertao, she loses her Cabiuna; then she 
loses Felicia herself, because the maiden has kept her ap- 
proaching motherhood a secret until it is too late. The 
grandchild lives on as a token of the continuity of life's 
urge, which brooks no restraint of human laws. Rarely 
does Netto attain such proportion in description, narra- 
tive, psychology; here Nature may smile upon her folk, 
but humour, gladness do not dwell for long amongst them. 
Even when humour comes, it Is the smiling face of fear, 
as In the account of Mandovi, the cahoclo whose super- 
stitious fancy was lashed Into terror by a forest bird that 
seemed to be calling his name and by a wraith-like palm- 
leaf swaying In the moon. Most gruesome of all, yet 
of undeniable fascination, is the concluding tale, Os 
Velhos, (The Aged Couple), — a study In obsession that 
Is passed on by an old husband to his faithful wife. He 


suffers from a sort of catalepsy and fears that some day, 
while in the death-like state, he will be buried alive. At 
last his final attack slays him, but she, fearing lest he be 
not really gone, lets him rot in his hut until the stench 
rises beyond endurance and the village populace take 
matters into their own hands. It is harrowing, repel- 
ling, morbid, but done with something of the skill that 
a Poe attains in such a piece as The Fall of the House of 
Usher. The motif of the ominous urubus — the black 
vultures of the southern continent — is most artistically 
handled, as is that of the contagious obsession as it 
grows upon the aged husband. Even here we discover 
evidence of the author's voluptuousness, inverted to be 
sure, until it becomes a species of olfactory sadism. 
Few tales display such an effective treatment of the sense 
of smell made into an inevitable, primary attribute of 
the story itself. 

Rei Negro (The Black King) belongs to the maturity 
of the writer's career, having appeared in 19 14. It is 
told in straightforward, uninterrupted manner, without 
an entangling opulence of words or a dazzling series of 
irrelevant descriptions. Equally at home in the desert 
sertao, the glitter of life in the capital, or the fazenda 
that is a link between the two, the author in this novel, 
presents as background the lively, multifarious life upon 
a large plantation, and as persons, the proprietors above 
and the virtual serfs below. The bare plot is simplicity 
itself; a favourite slave, Macambira, marries one of the 
black belles of the fazenda; the son of the proprietor, in- 
dulged since his birth and sensuous with the double un- 
restraint of climate and assumed racial prerogatives, at- 
tacks and overcomes the prospective bride. Fright seals 


the woman's lips, but when, after her happy marriage, 
the child is born white, the truth must come out. The 
proprietor's efforts to hide his son's misdeed — for the 
child is born during a prolonged absence of the woman's 
husband — prove abortive and Macambira wreaks ven- 
geance by slaying his wife's assailant. The wife has died 
in the agony of her knowledge and the birth; the husband, 
once his revenge is accomplished, disappears beyond the 

This is no common slave, however; Macambira, from 
the lips of the old Balbina, hears thrilling accounts of his 
regal provenience. Here he is but a humble black; 
among his own tribe, yonder in the African wilds, he is 
a king, a black king. His wrongs are more than matters 
of individual care; his slaying of Julinho is more than a 
personal vengeance. It is the vengeance of a tribe, the 
assertion of a race, the proclamation of human dignity. 
The greater to heighten the contrast between black and 
white, Netto has made Macambira a chaste, Herculean 
figure, proof against the temptations of mind and milieu 
to which Julinho succumbs and is ultimately sacrificed. 
The environment is drawn with swift, but effective 
strokes; the minor characters really live; there is genuine 
pathos in the common situation out of which the author 
draws uncommon results; there is poetic beauty, as well 
as psychological power, to the legendary evocations of 
old Balbina as she whispers the tale of greatness into the 
black king's ears and arouses his spirit to what to him is 
a mighty deed. 

I have singled out, for more than passing comment, 
but two works of some threescore and a half that range 
from short tales and newspaper fragments to the novel, 


the drama, the text-book, speeches and essays upon the 
education of women. For such early novels as A Capital 
Federal and such later ones as A Conquista I can feel no 
literary interest; they are, together with more than one 
other of their fellows, valuable for a study of the day in 
which they were written and for the instable tempera- 
ment that produced them. Similarly, Esphinge, a novel 
of exotic mystery that begins with high promise soon 
descends to the helpless confusion which threatens all 
dallying with other-worldly themes, particularly when the 
author would maintain contact with external reality rather 
than plunge frankly and fearlessly into the unseen realms. 
As to the short stories, one may open any collection quite 
at random ; the good will be strangely mixed with the bad. 
Now the tale is a mere excuse for commentary, usually 
upon men and women and passion, with Netto in cynical 
mood; nature becomes a luxuriant, inciting procuress, as 
witness the long titular story in the collection called 
Agiia de Jiiventa (Fountain of Youth), — a tale that, like 
more than one of Netto's, belongs rather to the liquor 
and cigars of stag parties than to literature. Not, 
understand, because it is "immoral," but because It lacks 
the texture, the illumination, the significance, of art. 
That he can be sentimental he shows in Epithalamio of 
the same collection; the propaganda impulse is so strong 
that it overflows into tale after tale. And over it all, the 
fructifying ardour of his voluptuousness, as prodigal as 
nature itself, which scatters myriad seeds where only one 
can take root and thrive. 

"Naturalism," writes Costa, "with Alulzio de 
Azevedo was the epic of the race's sexual instincts; with 


Coelho Netto, neo-romanticism will be the eternal praise 
of Nature, — the incessant and exaggerated exaltation of 
the landscape." Both "isms," I believe, are but the re- 
flection of the authors' temperaments; in Netto, Nature 
is but one of the symbols of sex, one of the means of rep- 
resenting, expressing the superabundant vitality. It is 
his imagination that works upon Nature rather than 
Nature upon his imagination; he is a distorting mirror; 
he has not created character, he has not invented situation, 
so much as he has utilized men, places and events in the 
presentation of his overflowing personality. 

As a historical phenomenon, Coelho Netto represents 
veritably a period in the national letters; literature be- 
comes a self-supporting profession — it had already been 
that with Aluizio de Azevedo — and the production of 
a steady stream of novels for avid metropolitan readers 
is as systematized as ever in our own supposedly more 
materialistic nation. As an artist Netto is less signifi- 
cant; haste, disorientation and constant supply of a none 
too exigent demand rendered him less exacting with him- 
self, — something that by nature he has never been in any 
case, though he can view his labours objectively and 
note their demerits. A spontaneous, not a premeditative 
artist, achieving, at his most happy moments, a glowing 
union of creature and creation, — a creation truly 
Amazonian in its prodigality of scene and sense, with 
creatures as unreal, yet as fascinating as itself. This is 
no small accomplishment, for it makes of the reader a 
participant, and that is what all art, major or minor, must 
do. Netto here expresses not only the ardent Brazilian 
dwelling amidst a phantasmagoria of the senses; this 
overflow of primitive instincts is a human heritage that, 


with its torch of life, makes us no less than the one touch 
of nature, kin to the rest of the world. "The Colonel's 
lady and Mary O'Grady are sisters under the skin," sang 
Kipling, to whom Netto has been rashly compared. And 
changing the genders, the Colombian poet Silva has sung 
in the poem Egalite of his Gotas Amargas (Bitter 

Juan Lanas, el mozo de la esquina, 
es absolutamente igual 
al Emperador de la China: 
los dos son el mismo animal. 

"Juan Lanas, the street-corner loafer is on absolute terms 
of equality with the Emperor of China. They both are 
the selfsame beast." 


WOMEN have played an Interesting, if neces- 
sarily minor part In the material and cul- 
tural development of the South American 
republic. The name of the world's largest river — the 
Amazon, or, more exactly speaking, the Amazons — is 
supposed to stand as a lasting tribute to the bravery of the 
early women whom the explorer Orellana encountered 
during his conquest of the mighty flood; according to this 
derivation, by many considered fanciful, he named the 
river in honour of the tribes' fighting heroines, though a 
more likely source would be the Indian word "amassona" 
(i. e., boat-destroyer, referring to the tidal phenomenon 
known as bore or proroca, which sometimes uproots trees 
and sweeps away whole tracts of land) . Centuries later, 
when one by one the dependencies of South America rose 
to liberate themselves from the Spanish yoke, the women 
again played a noble part in the various revolutions. 
The statue In Colombia to Pollcarpa Salvarleta is but a 
symbol of South American gratitude to a host of women 
who fought side by side with their husbands during the 
crucial days of the early nineteenth century. One of 
them, Manuela la Tucumana, was even made an officer In 
the Argentine army. 

If women have enshrined themselves in the patriotic 



annals of the Southern republics, they have shown that 
they are no less the companions of man in the 
agreeable arts of peace. When one considers the great 
percentage of illiteracy that still prevails in Southern 
America, and the inferior intellectual and social position 
that has for years been the lot of women particularly in 
the Spanish and Portuguese nations, it is surprising that 
woman's prominence in the literary world should be what 
it is. Yet the tradition — if tradition it may be called — 
boasts a remarkable central figure in the person of Santa 
Teresa, of sixteenth century Spain, "A miracle of 
genius" was that famous lady, in Fitzmaurice-Kelly's 
fulsome words, . . . "perhaps the greatest woman 
who ever handled pen, the single one of all her sex who 
stands beside the world's most perfect masters." In the 
next century, Mexico produced a personality hardly less 
interesting in Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, (who only 
yesterday was indicated as her nation's first folklorist and 
feminist), blazoned forth to her audience as "la Musa 
Decima mexicana," — nothing less than the tenth muse, 
if you please, who happened then to be residing in 
Mexico. And we of the North, in the same century, our- 
selves boasted a tenth muse in the English-born Anne 
Bradstreet of Massachusetts Colony, whose book of 
verses was published in London, in 1650 (ten years after 
the original Massachusetts edition) with the added line, 
"The Tenth Muse, lately sprung up in America." ^ 

The most distinguished Spanish poetess of the nine- 
teenth century, Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda, was a 

1 These Tenth Muses are relatively common. In Portuguese letters, 
among others, there are Soror Violante do Ceo (1601-93) and Bernarda 
Ferreira de Lacerda (1595-144). 


Cuban by birth, going later to Spain, where she was 
readily received as one of the nation's leading literary 
spirits. Her poetry is remarkable for its virile passion; 
her novel "Sab" is the Spanish "Uncle Tom's Cabin." 
She was a woman of striking beauty, yet so vigorous in 
her work and the prosecution of it that one facetious 
critic was led to exclaim, "This woman is a great deal of 
a man!" This, too, is in the tradition, for had not Sor 
Juana Ines de la Cruz, as a girl, been so eager for learn- 
ing that she begged her parents to send her to the Uni- 
versity of Mexico in male attire? She was hardly more 
than eight at the time, to be sure, but the girl is mother 
to the woman no less than the boy is father to the man. 

South America has its native candidate for the title of 
Spanish "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and this, too, is the work 
of a woman. Clorinda Matto's Aves Sin Nido (Birds 
Without a Nest) is by one of Peru's most talented 
women, and exposes the conscienceless exploitation of the 
Indians. In Peru, it would seem, fiction as a whole has 
been left largely to the pens of women. Such names as 
Joana Manuele Girriti de Belzu, Clorinda Matto and 
Mercedes Cabello de Carbonero stand for higher as- 
piration rather than achievement, but they reveal an un- 
mistakable tendency. The latest addition to their 
number is the youthful Angelica Palma, daughter of the 
famous author of the Tradic'iones Perruanas. 

Brazil has not yet produced any woman who has se- 
cured the recognition accorded to Sor Juana Ines de la 
Cruz or to Gomez de Avellaneda; it has, however, added 
some significant names to the Ibero-American roster. 
To poetry it has given Narcisa Amalia, Adelina Vieira, 
Julia Lopes d' Almeida, Zalina Rolim, and lastly Fran- 


cisca Julia da Silva. They are sisters in a choir that 
boasts choristers in every nation of the Ibero-American 
group, — now a civic spirit like the Dominican Salome 
Urena, who belongs to the latter half of the nineteenth 
century, now such a more passionate continuator as the 
lady who writes in Puerto Rico under the pseudonym of 
La Hija del Caribe (The Daughter of the Carribees), 
— again the Sapphic abandon of Alfonsina Storni of Ar- 
gentina, the domestic charm of Maria Enriqueta of Mex- 
ico, the pallid perfection of the Uruguayan Juana 
de Ibarbourou, the apostohc intensity of Gabriela 
Mistral (Lucilla Godoy) of Chile, and the youthful 
passion of Gilka Machado, youngest of the new Bra- 

These women do not, as a rule, and despite some too 
broad assumptions in South America as to the exclusively 
materialistic spirit of the United States, enjoy the advan- 
tages of culture that are possessed by our lady poets. 
There is no Amy Lowell among them to revel in the 
smashing of canons and amuse herself with the erection 
of new ones for others to smash. There is no atmos- 
phere of Bohemianism and night life in metropolitan 
cafes. Facile analogies might be drawn, but not too 
much faith should be placed in them. Thus Maria En- 
riqueta would suggest Sara Teasdale; Alfonsina Storni 
would similarly suggest Edna St. Vincent Millay, who is 
indubitably her superior. Over them all, except in the 
rare and welcome moments of spiritual rebellion, hovers 
an air of domesticity, as if, upon venturing into the half- 
forbidden precincts of art, — which means perfect expres- 
sion and therefore is "unwomanly," — they carried with 


them something of that narrower home and hearth which 
only now they are abandoning. 

"It is not easy," wrote Verissimo upon the consider- 
ation of a volume of poetry by Sra. D. Julia Cortines, 
"to speak freely of women as authors, since, however 
much as writers they detach themselves from their sex, 
the most elementary gallantry requires us to treat them 
solely as women, I, who am very far from being a fem- 
inist (which is perhaps not quite consistent with my social 
opinions), do not deny absolutely the Intellectual capac- 
ities of womankind, and, with the same impartiality (at 
least, so I presume) I cannot discover in them any ex- 
ceptional qualities of heart or mind. ... It may have 
been for this reason that the Muse, who is a woman, never 
deigned to endow me with her favors and denied me the 
gifts of poesy. . . . Happily, Brazilian poetesses are 
few in number; unhappily, they are not good poets. Al- 
most all, past and present, are mediocre. There has been 
none up to this time who might dispute a place with the 
half dozen of our best poets of the other sex. I could 
never understand, or I understand It in a manner that 
could hardly brook explanation, since woman accord- 
ing to current opinion is far richer In matters of feeling 
than man, she has never given anything really notable or 
extraordinary In art, which Is chiefly feeling. . . . One 
of the forces of art Is sincerity, and woman, either be- 
cause her own psychological organism forbids It, or be- 
cause the social organization that limits her expansion 
has never consented to It, has never been able to be 
sincere without endangering her privileges or even de- 
classifying herself." Love, he continues, being the chief 


of lyric themes, and woman prevented by social custom 
from really expressing herself, the virtual silence of 
woman in art is inevitable. - 

Some such reasoning as this explains the domesticity 
of the women poets. It explains, too, I believe, why 
Francisca Julia, for whom a number of Brazilian critics 
would claim a respectable place with the men of her 
nation, embraced the Parnassian cult during the few years 
that were vouchsafed her. She was, if her poems tell 
anything, an ardent spirit; her passions were too great 
for the routine of civic and domestic verse; she would do 
something more than merely transfer her "kitchen, 
church and children" into homiletic poems. Lacking 
either the courage or the -temperament of an Alfonsina 
Storni, she could express herself through an apparently 
cold and formal imagery. Her early impassivity may 
have been the defence reaction of a highly sensitive 
compassionate nature. Throughout her work she is, if 
we must use terms, more "Parnassian" than a number of 
avowed men of that cult, which had reached its crest in 
Brazil at the time Francisca Julia was emerging from 
adolescence. She was little more than twenty when her 
first collection, Marmores, appeared in 1895, and it is 
common knowledge that she had been writing then for 
some six years for such organs as the Estado de Sao 
Paulo (one of the most important, and the oldest, of 

2 Mr. Havelock Ellis, with his customary lucidity and serenity, discusses 
T/ie Mind of Woman (See The Philosophy of Conflict) in a manner 
to suggest fruitful pursuit of the problem that Verissimo poses. Had the 
Brazilian critic been more conversant with the newer poetry by women — 
I refer to increasing frankness rather than to increasing worth — he might 
have changvjd his mind as to the prohibitive influences of social custom. 
The next fifty years will probably witness some startling changes; among 
them some salutary ones. 


Brazilian newspapers), the Correio Paulistano, the Di- 
ario Popular, the Se^nana. Between M armor es and the 
next book, Esphinges, intervened some eight years. Late 
in 1920 she died, and perhaps the crown of her recog- 
nition — for her ability had been recognized with the pub- 
lication of her first book — was the phrase from the speech 
by Umberto de Campos in the Brazilian Academy of 
Letters, on November 4th, several days after her burial. 
"If the Academy of Letters, upon its establishment, had 
permitted the entrance of women into its body," de- 
clared the youngest of its members, "it would in this hour 
be mourning a vacant chair. ^ 

As her poetry was cold imagery of her ardent inner 
life, so are the titles of Francisca's two books of verse 
symbols of her artistic aims. Marmores and Esphinges: 
the first, the marble of the statue, external aspect of im- 
passivity; the second, the silent sphinx, symbol of inter- 
nal passionlessness. She was a vestal tending the eternal 
flame, but the fire was carved out of stone. Her artistic 
life traces a curve from religious serenity and impas- 
sability to compassion, thence to a sort of indifferentism. 
All this was Inherent in her early paganism, to which in 
later life she really returns. Her mastery of form is, 
one feels, a mastery of her emotions; much of her poetry 
is impassive, chiefly a fior di labbra, as the Italians would 
say, — on the rim of her lips. Not that she is insincere. 
For, as there is a sincerity of candour, so is there a sin- 
cerity of silence. The sphinx, a poetic figure, cannot, 
from its very muteness, be a poet, though its speechless- 
ness lends itself to poetry. Francisca Julia, however 

3 At least one Academician in Brazil has argued sensibly in favor of 
woman's admission to that body. 


much she would be the sphinx, more than once gives the 
answers to her own questionings. It is then that she is 
most at one with her art, producing some of the finest 
poetry that has come out of modern Brazil, 

Her ars poetica is summed up in the two sonnets 
grouped under the title Miisa Inipassivel (Impassive 
Muse) and serving as the motto of the collection Mar- 


Musa! um gesto siquer de dor ou de sincero 

Lucto, jamais te afeie o candido semblante! 

Deante de um Job, conserva o mesmo orgulho, deante 

De um morto, o mesmo olhar e sobrecenho austero. 

Em teus olhos nao quero a lagrima; nao quero 
Em tua bocca o suave e idyllico descante. 
Celebra ora um phantasma anguiforma de Dante, 
Ora o vulto marcial de um guerreiro de Homero. 

Da-me o hemistichio de ouro, a imagem attractiva, 
A rima, cujo som, de uma harmonia crebra, 
Cante aos ouvidos d'alma; a estrophe limpa e viva; 

Versos que lembrem, com os seus barbaros ruidos, 
Ora o aspero rumor de un calhao que se quebra, 
Ora o surdo rumor de marmores partidos. 


O' Musa, cujo olhar de pedra, que nao chora, 
Gela o sorriso ao labio e as lagrimas estanca! 
Da-me que eu va comtigo, em liberdade franca, 
Por esse grande espago onde o impassivel mora. 

Leva-me longe, 6 Musa impassivel e branca! 
Longe, acima do mundo, immensidade em fora, 


Onde, chammas lancando ao cortejo da aurora, 
O aureo plaustro do sol nas nuvens solavanca. 

Transporta-me de vez, numa ascencao ardente, 
A' deliciosa paz dos Olympicos-Lares 
Onde OS deuses pagaos vivem eternamente; 

E onde, num longo olhar, eu possa ver comtigo 

Passarem, atraves das brumas seculares, 

Os Poetas e os Heroes do grande mundo antlgo.^ 

This is genuine aristocracy of comportment; it is gen- 
uine attitude rather than absence of feeling. Note that 
the poet's Muse is not to reveal the sign of her emotions 
lest they sully the beauty of her countenance; the emo- 
tions, however, are there, and tears, at times, fall from 
the stony eyes. Such emotion, in her finer work, is most 
artistically blended with the aloofness that Francisca 
Julia sought. Impassivity is a meaningless word for 
poets, since it cannot by very nature seek to express 

* Muse! Let not ever even a gesture of grief or of sincere feeling spoil 
your serene countenance! Before a Job, preserve the same pride, before 
a corpse, the same gaze, the same austere brow. I would have no tears 
in your eyes; no soft, idyllic song upon your lips. Celebrate now the ser- 
pent-like phantasm of a Dante, now the martial figure of a Homeric 
warrior. Give me the hemistych of gold, the attractive image, rhyme 
whose sound, like a compact harmony, sings to the ears of the soul; the 
limpid, living strophe; verses that recall with their barbarous accents 
now the rasping noise of breaking flint, now the muffled sound of crack- 
ing marble. . . . Oh, Muse, whose stony eye that never weeps freezes 
the smile upon the lip and stanches the flow of tears! Let me go with 
you, in utter liberty, through those vast spaces where the Impassive 
dwells. Take me far, oh white impassive Muse! Far above the world 
into the immensity where, launching flames at the dawn's procession, the 
golden wain of the sun swings through the clouds. Transport me in a 
flaming ascension, to the delicious peace of the Olympic-Hearth where 
the pagan gods dwell eternally; and where, in a long look, I may in 
your company watch pass by across the secular haze the poets and the 
heroes of the great ancient days. 


itself, being the antithesis of expression; withdrawal, 
however, is a legitimate artistic trait, and she exhibits 
it in as successful a degree as has been attained by any 
poet of her country. So much a part of her nature is 
her coyness, that even when conquered by feminine pity 
she conveys her mood through an imagery none the less 
effective for its indirection; as in Dona Alda: 

Hoje Dona Alda madrugou. As costas 
Solta a opulenta cabelleira de ouro, 
Nos labios um sorriso de alegria, 
Vae passear ao jardim; as flores, postas 
Em longa fila, alegremente, em coro, 

Saudam-n'a: "Bom dia!" 
Dona Alda segue . . . Segue-a uma andorinha: 
Com seus raios de luz o sol a banha; 

E Dona Alda caminha. , . . 
Uma porgao de folhas a acompanha. . . . 
Caminha. . . . Como um fulgido brilhante 

O seu olhar fulgura. 
Mas — que cruel! — ao dar um passo adeante, 
Emquanto a barra do roupao sofralda, 
Pisa um cravo gentil de lactea alvura. . . . 
E este, sob os seus pes, inda murmura: 
"Obrigado, Dona Alda." " 

5 Dona Alda rose early today. Her rich tresses flowed loosely golden 
over her sides; on her lips a joyful smile; she goes for a walk in the 
garden. The flowers, ranged in a long row, gleefully in chorus salute 
her: "Good day!" Dona Alda continues. ... A swallow follows her: 
the sun bathes her in his light; and Dona Alda walks on. ... A whirl 
of leaves accompanies her. . . , She walks on. . . . Her glance glit- 
ters like a brilliant flash. But — how cruel! — as she steps forward, hold- 
ing up the hem of her dress, she treads upon a tender carnation of lily 
whiteness. . . . Yet the flower, beneath her feet, still murmurs, "Oh, 
thank you so much, Dona Alda!" 


This is not poetry that shakes one to the depths, nor 
does it come from one who was so shaken; but there is 
artistry in ivory as well as in marble, and Francisca Julia 
here has caught the secret of the light touch that stirs the 
deep response. 

There is a remarkable sonnet that opens the collection 
Esphinges, and I wonder whether it is not, in symbolized 
form, the keynote to the woman's poetic aloofness. 

Read for the first time the Danca de Centaiiras (Dance 
of the Centaurs, and note that these centaurs are fe- 
males) ; a sonnet of sculptural, plastic beauty, you are 
likely to tell yourself, as vivid as a bas-relief come sud- 
denly to life. Read it again, more slowly, and its impas- 
sivity seems to melt into concrete emotion; this is virgin 
modesty hiding behind verse as at other times behind 
raiment. The poet herself is In the dance of the cen- 
taurs and leads them in their flight when Hercules ap- 
pears. It is worth noting, too, that the poem does not 
reach its climax until the very last words are spoken; the 
wild rout is a mystery until the very end. Form and 
content thus truly become the unity that they are In the 
artist's original conception. 


Patas dianteiras no ar, boccas livres dos freios, 
Nuas, em grita, em ludo, entrecruzando as langas, 
Eil-as, garbosas vem, na evolugao das dangas 
Rudes, pompeando a luz a brancura dos seios. 

A noite escuta, fulge o luar, gemem as frangas, 
Mil centauras a rir, em lutas e torneios, 
Galopam livres, vao e veem, os peitos cheios 
De ar, o cabello solto ao leo das auras mansas, 


Empallidece o luar, a noite cae, madruga. . . . 
A danga hyppica para e logo atroa o espago 
O galope infernal das centauras em fuga: 

E' que, longe ao clarao do luar que impallidece, 
Enorme, acceso o olhar, bravo, do heroico brago 
Pendente a clava argiva, Hercules apparece.*^ 

It is the twilight and the night that bring to her lines 
their more subjective moods; but even here, rarely do 
present emotions invade her. It is as if she must feel by 
indirection, even as she writes — now harking back to a 
longing, now looking forward unmoved, to the inevitable 
end. Yet there are moments when the impassive muse 
forgets her part; she strides down from her pedestal and 
cries out upon Nature as a "perfidious mother," creator, 
in the long succession of days and nights, of so much 
vanity ever transforming itself. This Parnassianism 
then, is the mask of pride. And in such a sonnet as 
Angelus the mask is thrown off : 

Oft, at this hour, when my yearning speaks 
Through the lips of night and the droning chimes. 
Chanting ever of love whose grief o'erwhelms me, 

^ With their forefeet raised in the air, their mouths free of reins, 
naked, interlacing their lances as they shout in their play, here they 
come in all their beauty, tripping the mazes of their dance, rudely dis- 
playing to the light the whiteness of their breasts. The night hearkens, 
the moonlight shines, the tree-tops moan; a thousand she-centaurs, laugh- 
ing, playing, struggling, gallop freely on, go and come, their bosoms 
filled with air, their tresses free to the blowing of the zephyrs. The 
moonlight pales, night falls, and now dawn comes. . . . The hyppic 
dance is stopped, and soon all space thunders with the mad dash of the 
centaurs in flight; for, from afar, in the light of the moon grown pale, 
— huge, with his eyes aflame, brave, with Argive club hanging from 
his heroic arm, Hercules has appeared. 


I would be the sound, the night, full madly drunk 
With darkness, — the quietude, yon melting cloud, — 
Or merge with the light, dissolving altogether. 

This pantheism is paralleled, in Vidas Anteriores 
(Previous Lives) by her consciousness of having lived, 
in the past, a multiplicity of lives. It may be said, in 
general, that as a modern pagan she is far more real 
than as the rhyming Christian she reveals herself in her 
few attempts at religious poetry. 

Shortly before her death she wrote a sonnet called 
Esperanca (Hope), that is clear presentiment. She did 
not weaken at Its approach; she was, as near as is hu- 
manly possible, the impassive muse of her own sonnets ; 

I know it's a kindly road and the journey's brief. 

Her didactic works, Livro da Infancia, published in 
1899, consisting of prose and verse, and Alma Infantil, 
written In collaboration with Julio Cesar da Sllva, 19 12, 
for school use, do not belong to her major productions. 
It Is significant of the status of the Brazilian text-book, 
as well as of the varied tasks thrown upon the shoulders 
of the educated In a continent where the major portion 
of the population has been thus far condemned to Illiter- 
acy, when we see how frequently even the major creative 
spirits of the country turn to the writing of text-books. 
Yesterday Olavo Bllac, fellow Parnassian of Francisca 
Julia, spared time for the labour; today Coelho Netto, 
Ollveira Lima, Monteiro Lobato do so. Again and 
again Is one reminded what a sacrifice, what a luxury. Is 
the creative life in a land that lacks anything like the 
creative audience. And how much better off are we, who 


are only on the threshold of a truly national literature? 

It is not impossible that the fame of Francisca Julia 
da Silva will grow with the coming years. She will be 
recognized not only as a gifted woman who was one of 
the few to carry on, worthily, the difficult perfection of 
Heredia, Leconte de Lisle, Theophile Gautier and their 
fellows, but as the equal, when at her best, of Brazil's 
foremost Parnassians. There are not many sonnets in 
the poetry of Olavo Bilac, who so generously received 
her, to match the sheer artistry of her Dance of the 
Centaurs, her Argonauts, her Impassive Muse. Indeed, 
compare the Impassive Muse with Bilac's over-ardent 
Profissao de Fe (Profession of Faith) and see whether 
the woman has not in the very words and images and 
tonality of the piece exhibited the inner and outer ex- 
ample of that Parnassianism which Bilac here expresses 
in words rather than attains In spirit. Bilac, as we have 
seen, was too passionate a nature not to warm all his 
statues to life; in Francisca, as Joao RIbeiro said In his 
preface to Marmores, we find "ecstasy rather than pas- 
sion," — a cold ecstasy, one might add, like the upper re- 
gions of the atmosphere, which, though flooded with the 
sunlight, are little warmed by Its passage through them. 

The same commentator suggests, as a possible reason 
for her acute auditive sense, the short-sightedness from 
which she suffered. Her poetry, indeed, is a hearing 
poetry, but a seeing one as well. The few superior 
pieces she has left are among the rare productions of 
Brazilian verse; they are, in that province, unsurpassed 
for their blend of the proportion that we usually call 


classic with that harmonious sensitivity which is sup- 
posedly the trait of refined modernity. If in art it is the 
individual rather than the literature that counts, and if 
in that individual's labour it is only what we consider best 
that really matters, I should venture the seemingly rash 
statement that Francisca Julia de Silva is the equal, as a 
personality in verse, of Machado de Assis. He, too, 
was a cold poet, even as a Romantic, yet never attained 
the ecstasy of her salient pieces. He, too, was with- 
drawn, aloof, and might have signed such a poem as 
Francisca Julia's O Ribeirinho (The Streamlet), with- 
out any oneJ)eing the wiser. Yet his aloofness — speak- 
ing solely of his work in verse — was on the whole lack of 
emotion, while hers is suppression, domination, trans- 
mutation of it. She can be as banal as Wordsworth, 
and has written in her Inverno (Winter) probably two of 
the most prosaic lines of verse that Brazilian poetry 

knows ; 

Das quatro estagoes de todas, 
O inverno e a peor, de certo. 

Of all the four seasons 
Winter's certainly the worst. 

She committed her childhood indiscretions, as do we 
all, though in less abundance. At her best, however, 
(and neither is this too abundant) she should rank with 
the few Brazilian creators who have produced a charm 
that is sister to Keats's eternal joy. She has no land- 
scapes labelled native; her longing is no mere conven- 
tional saudade; she formed no preconceived notion of 
Brazilianism; she simply wrote, amidst her labours, some 


two or more score lines that cannot be omitted from any 
consideration of Brazilian poetry, because they enriched 
it with a rare, sincere artistry that may find appreciation 
wherever the language of men and women is beauty. 



AMONG recent literary currents that present 
several interesting phases one should not over- 
look the nationalistic tendencies in Brazil, 
championed so ardently and with such immediate effect 
by the most active of the "new" spirits, Monteiro Lo- 
bato. Lobato is but little over thirty-five and has at 
hand for his purpose an influential publishing house in 
Sao Paulo; he is thus able to make himself heard and 
read as well as felt; he seems to be, in the intellectual 
sense of the word, a born propagandist; certainly He 
does not lack ink or courage, and whatever one may 
think of his ideas, he makes highly entertaining and 
instructive reading. First and foremost he is the cham- 
pion of the national personality. And by that same 
token he becomes the enemy of undue foreign influence 
upon the nation. As one reads his numerous short 
stories, his crisp and vigorous criticisms and his essays, 
one comes to the realization that, as far as Lobato is 
concerned, foreign influence is chiefly French and In 
large measure to be condemned. 

The profound effect of French literature upon Spanish 
and Portuguese America is as undeniable as It is occasion- 
ally deleterious, but It Is possible to overstate the case 
against the French Influence In Brazil and, as one strikes 



in Lobato the same protest reiterated time and again, one 
begins to feel that he is somewhat afflicted with Gallo- 
phobia. Yet this is, after all, on his part, the over-em- 
phasis of earnestness rather than an absolute error in 
values. He is not lacking in appreciation of the great 
Frenchmen; he does not seem to scorn the use, as epi- 
graph to one of his children's books, a quotation in 
French from Anatole France; he does not object to hav- 
ing some of his short stories mentioned in the same breath 
with de Maupassant and, above all, he recognizes the 
creative power of imitation, however paradoxical that 
may sound. "Let us agree," he writes, in the preface to 
his stimulating collection of critiques, Ideas de Jeca Tatu, 
"that imitation is, in fact, the greatest of creative forces. 
He imitates who assimilates processes. Who copies, 
does not imitate; he steals. Who plagiarizes does not 
imitate, he apes." The whole book he presents as "a 
war-cry in favor of personality." At the bottom of Lo- 
bato's nationalism is the one valid foundation of art: sin- 
cerity. If he occasionally overdoes his protest, he may 
well be forgiven for the sound basis of it; it is part of his 
own personality to see things in the primary colors, to 
play the national zealot not in any chauvinistic sense — he 
is no blind follower of the administrative powers, no na- 
tionalist in the ugly sense of cheap partisan drum-beat- 
ing — but in the sense that true nationalism is the logical 
development of the fatherland's potentialities. A per- 
sonally independent fellow, then, who would achieve for 
his nation that same independence. 

The beginning of the World War found Monteiro 
X-obato established upon a fazenda^ far from the 


thoughts and centres of literature. It was by accident 
that he discovered his gifts as a writer. The story is 
told that one day, rendered indignant by the custom of 
setting fire to the fields for cleansing purposes, and thus 
endangering the bordering inhabitants, he sent a letter 
of protest to a large daily in Sao Paulo. It seems that 
the letter was too important, too well-written, too plainly 
indicative of natural literary talent, to be relegated to 
the corner where readers' jeremiads usually wail, and 
that, instead, it was "featured" upon the first page. 
From that day the die was cast. The episode, in my 
opinion, is far more important than it appears. For, 
whatever form in which the man's later writings are pub- 
hshed, they are in a more important degree just what 
this initial venture was : a protest, a means of civic bet- 
terment, a national contribution. Turn this letter and 
its mood into a short story and you have, say, such a 
tale-message as O Jardineiro Timotheo, in which even 
a garden may be transformed into a mute, many-hued 
plea for the native flora; make politics of it, and you 
get such a genuinely humorous product as A Modern 
Torture, from that strange collection called Urupes. 
Indeed is not the piece Urupes itself a critique and an 
exposition of the indigenous "cobrizo" ? 

It was with the collection Urupes that Monteiro 
Lobato definitely established himself. In three years it 
has reached a sale that for Brazil is truly phenomenal: 
twenty thousand copies. It has been extravagantly 
praised by such divergent figures as the uncrowned laure- 
ate Olavo Bilac (who might have had more than a few 
words to say about legitimate French influence upon 


Brazilian poetry) and the Imposing Ruy Barbosa, who 
instinctively recognized the fundamentally sociological 
value of Lobato's labours. For of pure literature there 
is little in the young Saint-Paulist. I fear that, together 
with a similar group in Buenos Aires, he underestimates 
the esthetic element in art, confusing it, perhaps, with the 
snobbish, aloof, vapoury spirits who have a habit of in- 
festing all movements with their neurotic lucubrations. 
Yet such a view may do him injustice. His style, his 
attitude, his product, are directly conditioned by the am- 
bient in which he works and the problems he has set out 
to solve. Less unjust, surely, is the criticism that may 
be made against him when his earnestness degenerates 
into special pleading, when his intense feeling tapers off 
into sentimentality and when what was meant to be hu- 
mour falls away to caricature. From which it may be 
gathered that Lobato writes — or rather reprints — too 
much; for plenty of good journalism should be left where 
it first appeared and not be sent forth between covers. 
Also, in an appreciable amount of his work, his execution 
lags behind his intention, owing in no small measure to a 
lack of self-discipline and an artistically unripe sincerity. 
Unipes was soon followed by Ideas de Jeca Tatu, 
his Jeca Tatu being a fisherman of Parahyba, a "cobrizo," 
first introduced in the preceding book and symbolizing the 
inertia of the native. In the second book, however, the 
ideas are anything but those of inertia; Lobato has got 
into the skin of the fisherman and produced a series of ad- 
mirable essays and critiques. Of similar nature are the 
chapters embodied in Cidades Mortas. Negrinha is a 
collection of short stories. In addition to being the 
author of these books, he is the editor of a splendid mag- 


azine, Revista do Brazil, the publisher of volumes by the 
rising generation of literary redeemers, instructor to his 
nation in hygiene, and his energies flow over into yet 
other channels. He is also the writer of several books 
for children. The best known of these is Narizinho 
Arrebitado or, as who should say Little SnuU-Nose, and 
with an appropriate blush I confess that the little girl's 
adventures among the flowers and creatures of her na- 
tive land were responsible for the theft of some hours 
from the study of fatter, less childish, tomes. As one 
who would renovate the letters of his nation, Lobato nat- 
urally has much to say, inside of Brazil and outside, of 
the former and present figures of the country's literature. 
His work in every phase is first of all an act of national- 

From the exclusive stylistic standpoint Lobato is 
terse, vigorous, intense, to the point. The chapters de- 
voted to the creation of a style (in Jeca Tatu) form a 
valid plea for a genuinely autocthonous art, and it is in- 
structive to see how he treats the question in its relation 
to architecture. Brazil has native flora, fauna and my- 
thology which its writers are neglecting for the repeti- 
tion of the hackneyed hosts of Hellas. (Yet Lobato 
nods betimes and sees the Laocoon in a gnarled tree.) 
He is an "anti-literary" writer, scorning the finer graces, 
yet, besides betraying acute consciousness of being a 
writer, he employs situations that have been overdone 
time and again, and worse still, in plots that are no more 
Brazilian than they are Magyar or Senegalese. Thus, in 
O Bugio Moqueado we encounter a tale of a woman 
forced daily to eat a dish prepared by her vindictive 
husband from the slain body of her lover. It is char- 


acteristic that the Brazilian author heaps the horror gen- 
erously, without at all adding to the effect of the theme 
as it appears in Greek mythology or in the lore of old 

The truth would seem to be that at bottom Lobato 
Is not a teller of stories but a critic of men. His vein 
Is distinctly satiric, ironic; he has the gift of the cari- 
caturist, and that is why so often his tales run either into 
sentimentality or into the macabrous. When he tells 
a tale of horror, it is not the uncannily graduated art of 
a Poe, but rather the thing itself that Is horrible. His 
Innate didactic tendency reveals Itself not only In his 
frankly didactic labours, but In his habit of prefixing to 
his tales a philosophical, commentative prelude. Be- 
cause he is a well-read, cosmopolitan person, his tales 
and comments often possess that worldly significance 
which no amount of regional outlook can wholly obscure; 
but because he Is so intent upon sounding the national 
note he spoils much of his writing by stepping onto the 
pages in his own person. 

At his best he suggests the arrival In Brazilian liter- 
ature of a fresh, spontaneous, creative power. Tales 
like A Modern Torture (in which a rural dabbler In 
politics, weary of his postal delivery "job," turns 
traitor to the old party and helps elect the new, only 
to be "rewarded" with the same old "job") are rare 
In any tongue and would not be out of place in a collec- 
tion by Chekhov or Twain. Here is humour served by 
— and not in the service of — nation, nature and man. 
Similarly Choo-Pan! with Its humorous opening and 
gradual progress to the grim close, shows what can be 
done when a writer becomes the master and not the 


slave of indigenous legend. A comparison of this tale 
with a similar one, The Tree That Kills, may bring 
out the author's weakness and his strength. In the first, 
under peculiar circumstances, a man meets his death 
through a tree that, according to native belief, avenges 
the hewing down of its fellow. In the second, the Tree 
That Kills is explained as a sort of preface, then fol- 
lows a tale of human beings in which a foster-child, like 
the Tree That Kills, eats his way into the love of a child- 
less pair, only first to betray the husband and then, after 
wearying of the woman, to attempt her life as well. The 
first story, besides being well told, is made to appear in- 
timately Brazilian; the death of the man, who is a sot 
and has so bungled his work that the structure was bound 
to topple over, is natural, and actual belief in the legend 
is unnecessary; it colours the tale and lends atmosphere. 
The Tree That Kills, on the other hand, is merely an- 
other tale of the domestic triangle, no more Brazilian 
than anything else, with a twist of retribution at the end 
that must have appealed to the preacher hidden in Lo- 
bato; the analogy of the foster-son to the tree is not an 
integral part of the tale; the story, in fact, is added to 
the explanation of the tree parasite and is itself parasit- 

Lobato's attitude toward education may be gleaned 
from his child's book Little Snub-Nose and the epigraph 
from Anatole France. He wishes to cultivate the im- 
agination rather than cram the intellect. And even In 
this second reader for public schools — refreshingly free 
of the "I-see-a-cat" method — one can catch now and then 
his intention of instructing and satirizing the elder pop- 


To this caustic spirit, the real Brazil — the Brazil that 
must set to work stamping Its Impress upon the arts of 
the near future — lies In the interior of the country. 
There he finds the genuine Brazilian, uncontaminated 
by the "esperanto of Ideas and customs" characteristic 
of the centres that receive Immigration from all over the 
world. There he discovers the raw material for the real 
national art, as distinguished from cities with their phan- 
tasmagoria of foreign importations. And for that art 
of the interior he has found the great precursor In 
Euclydes da Cunha — a truly remarkable writer upon 
whom the wandering Scot, Richard Cunnlnghame-Gra- 
ham, drew abundantly, as we have seen, in his rare work 
upon that Brazilian mystic and fanatic, Antonio Consel- 
helro. "It was Euclydes da Cunha," writes Lobato in his 
Ideas de Jeca Tatii, "who opened for us. In his Sertoes, 
the gates to the Interior of the country. The Frenchified 
Brazilian of the coast cities was astonished. Could there, 
then, be so many strong, heroic, unpublished, formid- 
able things back there? ... He revealed us to ourselves. 
We saw that Brazil isn't Sao Paulo, with its Italian con- 
tingent, nor Rio, with its Portuguese. Art beheld new 
perspectives opened to it." 

To present a notion of Monteiro Lobato's style and 
his general outlook, I shall confine myself to translat- 
ing an excerpt or two from his most pithy volume, 
Ideas de Jeca Tatii. 

One of the pivotal essays Is that entitled Esthetica 
Official (Official Esthetics). "The work of art," It 
begins, "is Indicated by Its coefficient of temperament, 
color and Hfe — the three values that produce its unity, 


deriving the one from man, the other from milieu, the 
third from the moment. Art that flees this tripod of 
categories and that has as its human-factor the hei- 
inatlos person (the man of many countries brought into 
evidence by the war) ; that has as terroir the world and 
as epoch all Time, will be a superb creation when vola- 
puk rules over the globe : until then, no ! 

"Whence we derive a logical conclusion: the artist 
grows in proportion as he becomes nationalized. The 
work of art must reveal to the quickest glance its origin, 
just as the races denote their ethnological group through 
the individual type." 

Yet note how Lobato, for all his nationalism, in the 
very paragraph that opens his somewhat uncritical cri- 
tique, employs a German word, soon followed by a 
French, and all this a few seconds before ridiculing vola- 
puk! Not that this need necessarily vitiate his argument, 
which has, to my way of thinking, far stronger points 
against it. But it does serve to indicate, I believe, that the 
world has grown too small for the artificial insistence 
upon a nationalism in literature which only too often 
proves the disguise of our primitive, unreasoned loyal- 
ties. Lobato's unconscious use of these foreign terms 
provided, at the very moment he was denying it, a proof 
of the interpenetration of alien cultures. He has, too 
strongly for art as we now understand it, the regional 
outlook; for him Brazil is not the Brazil that we 
know on the map, or know as a political entity; it is 
the interior. His very nationalism refers, in this as- 
pect, to but part of his own nation, though, to be fair, 
it is his theory that sins more seriously than his prac- 


"Nietzsche," he says elsewhere in the book, "served 
here as a pollen. It is the mission of Nietzsche to fe- 
cundate whatever he touches. No one leaves him shaped 
in the uniformity of a certain mould; he leaves free, he 
leaves as himself. (The italics are Lobato's.) His 
aphorism — Vademeciimf Fade tecum! — is the kernel of 
a liberating philosophy. Would you follow me? Fol- 
low yourself!" Now this, allowing for the personal 
modifications Nietzsche himself concentrates into his 
crisp question and answer, is the attitude of an Ibsen, a 
Wagner; in the new world, of a Dario, of a Rodo, and 
of all true leaders, who would lead their followers to 
self-leadership. And once again Lobato answers him- 
self with his own citations, for he himself, showing the 
effect of Nietzsche upon certain of the Brazilian writers 
— a liberating effect, and one which helped them to a 
realization of their own personalities — produces the most 
telling of arguments in favour of legitimate foreign in- 

His characteristic attitude of indignation crops out 
at every turn. In an essay upon A Estatua do Patriarcha, 
dedicated to the noble figure of Jose Bonifacio de An- 
drade, he gives a patient summary of the man's achieve- 
ments — as patient as his nervous manner and his trench- 
ant language can accomplish. As he approaches his 
climax, he becomes almost telegraphic: 

"He (that is, Bonifacio) works in the dark. 

"His strength is faith. 

"His arms, suggestion. 

"His target, the cry of Ipiranga. 

"The work that he Is then accomplishing is too Intense 
not to sweep aside all obstacles thrust In his path; his 


power of suggestion is too strong not to conquer the 
Prince Regent; his look too firm for the shot not to hit 
the bull's eye. 
"He conquered. 

"The fatherland went into housekeeping for itself and 
it was he who ordered the arrangement of all the fur- 
niture and the standards of a free life. 

"This is Jose Bonifacio's zenith. He is the Washing- 
ton of the South. ^ 

"Less fortunate, however, than Washington, he after- 
wards sees the country take a direction that he foresaw 
was mistaken. 

"He starts a struggle against the radical currents 
and against evil men. 

"He loses the contest. . . . 

"Brought to trial as a conspirator, lie was absolved. 
"He betook himself to the island of Paqueta and in 
1838 died in the city of Nitheroy. 
"There you have Jose Bonifacio." 
There, incidentally, you have Monteiro Lobato, in the 
quivering vigour of the phrase, in the emotional concen- 
tration. But all this has been but the preparation for 
Lobato's final coup. 

"Jose Bonifacio is, beyond dispute, the greatest figure 
in our history. 

"Very well: this man was a Paulist, (i.e., a native 
of Sao Paulo). Born in Santos, in 1763. It is already 
a century since the Paulists were struck with the idea of 
rearing him a statue. Not that he needs the monument. 

■'^ Another "Washington of the South," according to some Spanish 
Americans, is Marshal Sucre Bolivar's powerful associate. Bolivar him- 
self has been compared to Washington, perhaps most illuminatingly by 
l:he notable Equatorian, Juan Montalvo, in his Side Tratadof, 


In a most grandiose manner he reared one to himself 
In the countless scientific memoirs that he published m 
Europe, the greater part in German, never translated into 
his own tongue, — and in his fecund political action In 
favour of the fiat of nationality. 

"It Is we who need the monument, for Its absence 
covers us with shame and justifies the curse which from 
his place of exile he cast upon the evil persons of the 
day. . . ." 

Now, Monteiro Lobato's nationalism, as I try to show, 
is not the narrow cause that his theoretical writings would 
seem to Indicate. It Is, as I said at the beginning, really 
an evidence of his eagerness for the expansion of person- 
ality. But It Is contaminated — and I believe that is the 
proper word — by an intense local pride which vents itself, 
upon occasion, as local scolding. The entire essay upon 
Jose Bonifacio was written for the salce of the final 
sting. Not so much to exalt the great figure as to glorify 
Sao Paulo and at the same time excoriate the forgetful, 
the negligent Paullstas. It Is such writing as this that 
best reveals Lobato because It best expresses his central 
passion, which is not the cult of artistic beauty but the 
criticism of social fallings. 

This Is at once a step backward and a step forward. 
Forward In the civic sense, because Brazil needs the un- 
flattering testimony of its own more exigent sons and 
daughters, — and Is Brazil alone In this need? Back- 
ward In the artistic sense, because it tends to a confusion 
of values. It vitiates, particularly In Lobato, the tales 
he tells until it Is difficult to say whether the tale points 
a moral or the moral adorns the tale. 

That Lobato Is alive to the genuineness of legitimate 


foreign Influence he himself shows as well as any critic 
can for him, in the essay upon A Questao do Estylo (The 
Question of Style), in a succinct paragraph upon Olavo 
Bilac's poem O Cacador de Esmeraldas. "The poet 
. . . when he composed The Emerald-Hunter, did not 
take from Corneille a single word, nor from Anatole a 
single conceit, nor a night from Musset, nor a cock from 
Rostand, nor frigidity from Leconte, nor an acanthus 
from Greece, nor a virtue from Rome. But, without 
wishing it, from the very fact that he was a modern open 
to all the winds that blow, he took from Corneille the 
purity of language, from Musset poesy, from Leconte 
elegance, from Greece the pure line, from Rome fortitude 
of soul — and with the ancient-rough he made the new- 

But what, he asks, shall we say of a poem composed of 
ill-assimilated suggestions from without, — "in unskilled 
adaptations of foreign verses, and with types of all the 
races? The 'qu'il mourut' of Corneille in the mouth of 
a Joao Fernandez, who slays Ninon, mistress of the 
colonel Jose da Silva e Souza, consul of Honduras in 
Thibet, because an Egyptian fellah disagreed with Ibsen 
as to the action of Descartes In the battle of Char- 
leroi? . . ." 

Even such a mixture does Lobato discover In the ar- 
chitecture of latter-day Sao Paulo. But more to our pres- 
ent point: note how, as long as Lobato sticks to actual 
example, his nationalism Is a reasoned, cautious applica- 
tion. As soon as he deserts fact for theory he steps Into 
caricature; nor is It, perhaps, by mere coincidence that 
the longest essay In the book is upon Caricature In 


There can be no question as to the dynamic person- 
ality of this young man. There can be little question as 
to the wholesome Influence he Is wielding. Thus far, 
however, he Is weakest when In his role as short-story 
writer — with the Important exceptions we have noted — 
and strongest as a polemical critic. His personal gifts 
seem destined to make of him a propagandist of the 
ironical, satirical sort, with a marked Inclination for cari- 
cature. One may safely hazard the opinion that he has 
not yet, in the creative sense — that of transforming real- 
ity, through imagination, into artistic life — found himself 
fully. He is much more than a promise; it is only that 
his fulfilment is not yet clearly defined.- 

2 Some time after writing the article of which the above is an ampli- 
fication, I received from Senhor Lobato a letter which is of sufficient im- 
portance to contemporary strivings in Brazil, and to the life and pur- 
pose of Lobato himself, to merit partial translation. I give the salient 
passages herewith: 

"I was born on the i8th April, 1883, in Taubate, State of Sao Paulo, 
the son of parents who owned a coffee estate. I initiated my studies in 
that city and proceeded later to Sao Paulo, where I entered the depart- 
ment of Law, being graduated, like everybody else, as a Bachelor of 
Laws. Fond of literature, I read a great deal in my youth; my favour- 
ite authors were Kipling, Maupassant, Tolstoi, Dostoievsky, Balzac, 
Wells, Dickens, Camillo Castello Branco, Ega de Queiroz and Machado 
de Assis . . . but I never let myself be dominated by any one. I like to 
see with my own eyes, smell with my own nose. All my work reveals 
this personal impression, almost always cruel, for, in my opinion, we are 
the remnant of a race approaching elimination. Brazil will be something 
in the future, but the man of today, the Luso-Africano-Indio will pass 
out of existence, absorbed and eliminated by other, stronger races . . . 
just as the primitive aborigine passed. Even as the Portuguese caused 
the disappearance of the Indian, so will the new races cause the disap- 
pearance of the hybrid Portuguese, whose role in Brazilian civilization 
is already fulfilled, having consisted of the vast labour of clearing the 
land by the destruction of the forests. The language will remain, gradu- 
ally more and more modified by the influence of the new milieu, so 
different from the Lusitanian milieu. 

"Brazil is an ailing country." (In his pamphlet Problema Vital, Lo- 


bato studies this problem, indicating that man will be victorious over 
the tropical zone through the new arms of hygiene. The pamphlet caused 
a turmoil throughout Brazil, and sides were at once formed, the one 
considering Lobato a defamer of the nation, the other seeing in it an 
act of sanative patriotism. As a result, a national program of sanitation 
was inaugurated. This realism of approach, so characteristic of Lobato, 
made of his figure Jeca Tatu a national symbol that has in many minds 
replaced the idealized image of Pery, from Alencar's Guarany. Jeca thus 
stands for the most recent critical reaction against national romanticism.) 

"I recognize now that I was cruel, but it was the only way of stirring 
opinion in that huge whale of most rudimentary nervous system which 
is my poor Brazil. I am not properly a literary man. I take no pleas- 
ure in writing, nor do I attach the slightest importance to what is called 
literary glory and similar follies. I am a particle of extremely sen- 
sitive conscience that adopted the literary form, — fiction, the conte, satire, 
— ^as the only means of being heard and heeded. I achieved my aim and 
today I devote myself to the publishing business, where I find a solid 
means of sustaining the great idea that in order to cure an ailing person 
he must first be convinced that he is, in fact, a sick man." 

Here, as elsewhere, Lobato's theory is harsher than his practice. He 
is, of course, a literary man and has achieved a distinctive style; but he 
knows, as his letter hints, that his social strength is his literary weakness. 




As the purpose of this book is largely Introductory, the works 
listed below have been chosen carefully as a miniature critical 
library for the student. Numerous other volumes are mentioned 
in the footnotes of the text. I have not considered it necessary to 
include here a number of works that possess importance chiefly for 
the specialist. 

FERDINAND DENIS. Resume de I'histoire litteraire du 
Portugal, suivi du Resume de I'histoire litteraire du 
Bresil. Paris, 1826. 

The chapters upon Brazilian letters occupy pages 513 
to 601 of this i6mo book. The French cleric, with a style 
inclining toward eloquence, makes highly pleasant reading, 
and the century that followed upon his work has borne out 
more than one of his expectations. He realized, thus 
early, the effect of the racial blend upon the Imaginative 
output, Indicating the African for ardour, the Portuguese 
for chivalry, the Indian native for dreaminess. As a 
resident upon the spot, he noted the several-month droughts 
which Buckle, much to Romero's indignation, later failed 
to take Into account. "America," wrote Denis, "sparkling 
with youth, ought to think thoughts as new and energetic 
as itself ; our literary glory cannot always illumine It with 
a light that grows dim on crossing the seas, and which 
should vanish completely before the primitive inspiration 
of a nation vibrant with energy." Denis, in his prophetic 
strain, even predicted that America would some day visit 
Europe as Europe today visits Egypt, to witness the scenes 



of a departed civilization. In general, he favours a dis- 
tinctive, national note. He is cursorily informative rather 
than critical, and susceptible to few aesthetic values. 

FERDINAND WOLF. Le Bresil Litteraire. Histoire de la 
litterature bresilienne suivie d'un choix de morceaux tires 
des meilleurs auteurs b{r)esiliens. Berlin, 1863. 

The quarto volume is dedicated to the Emperor of 
Brazil. Wolf, of course, was a German; the book was 
translated into French at the publisher's request, in order 
to reach a larger audience. Its author regarded it as "the 
first and only one to appear in Europe on the subject." 
Since Denis's treatment forms a sort of appendix to his 
Portuguese section, Wolf's statement, understood as re- 
ferring to an independent volume upon Brazil, may be 
allowed to pass. The book is chiefly one of facts and 
analyses of works. Of criticism in the higher sense there 
is little, and what there is, is of the conventional sort. 
There is a moral, anti-French outlook; a Teutonic pre- 
occupation with data; no glimmer of aesthetic criticism. 
Wolf's style is far from the amenable style of Denis. 

da Poesia Brasileira. (Vols. I and II, Lisbon, 1850. 
Vol. Ill, Madrid, 1853.) 

It is the Introduction preceding the first volume of these 
noted selections, together with the prefatory notes to the 
selections themselves, that virtually begins the writing of 
Brazilian literary history. Without this work Ferdinand 
Wolf could not have written his Le Bresil Litteraire. All 
later investigators and critics have really built upon 
Varnhagen's foundations, tearing a stone away here and 
there and substituting another, but leaving the structure 
fundamentally the same. 


SYLVIO ROMERO. Historia da Litteratura Brasileira. 2a 
edigao, melhorada pelo auctor. Rio Vol. I, 1 902. Vol. 
II, 1903. 

Romero Is one of the most picturesque literary figures 
of the nineteenth century. He was a born fighter, with all 
the traits of the ardent polemist. Throughout a lifetime 
that was rife with self-contradiction, self-repetition, and 
self-glorification, he fought for Brazilian independence in 
the literary, scientific and political fields. He was by no 
means blind to esthetic beauty, but he insisted overmuch 
upon the national element and was easily lost in fogs of ir- 
relevancy. He was a great admirer of German methods, 
and — justly, to my way of thinking — a believer in Anglo- 
German culture as a complement to Latin. As his life 
sought to cover almost every field of intellectual activity, so 
does his History of Brazilian Literature, which was left in- 
completed, seek to cover altogether too much ground. His 
book might more properly have been named a history of 
Brazilian culture. Such, indeed, was his conception of lit- 
erature, which to him, as he states in his very first chapter, 
possessed "the amplitude given to it by the critics and his- 
torians of Germany. It comprises all the manifestations of 
a people's intelligence : — politics, economics, art, popular cre- 
ations, sciences . . . and not, as was wont to be supposed, 
in Brazil, only those entitled belles lettres, which finally 
came to mean almost exclusively poetry! . . ." A knowl- 
edge of this important work — important despite the list of 
objections that might be raised against it — is indispensable 
to the student. 

Literatura Brasileira. 2a edigao refundida. Rio, 1909. 

A useful compendium and condensation. The authors 
here consider art "a chapter of sociology," laying down a 


belief in the "consciousness of the identity of human 
destinies," which is, "in our opinion, the basis of all so- 
ciology and morality." 

JOSE VERISSIMO. Estudos de Literatura Brazileira. Six 
series, published at Rio de Janeiro and Paris, between 
igoi and igio. These largely formed the basis for his 
Historia da Literatura BrazileirUj Rio, 19 16. 

Verissimo, in my opinion, is the leading critic of letters 
Brazil has thus far produced, and one of the country's 
greatest minds. His whole life was a beautiful attitude, 
— a serene, usually unruffled spirit open to anything that 
proceeded from creative sincerity. He is, as I have tried 
to show in the text, the spiritual opposite of Romero. If 
the student has time only for a limited reading of Brazilian 
criticism, he should approach Verissimo before he goes any 
farther. Verissimo had learned, or perhaps had been born 
with, the secret that beauty owed allegiance to no flag; 
he was not bogged, as was Romero so often, by extraneous 
loyalties; he erected no pompous structures of "scientificist" 
criticism. He was, what every significant critic must be, 
an artist. 

RONALD DE CARVALHO. Pequena Historia da Literatura 
Brasileira. Rio, 19 19, 1922. The book was awarded 
a prize by the Brazilian Academy — as was the same 
author's book of poetry Poemas e Sonetos — and appeared 
later in a revised, augmented edition. De Carvalho is 
a brilliant young man on the sunny side of thirty. His 
book — as, for that matter, every other recent one upon 
the subject — is under great debts to Romero and Veris- 
simo, but it reveals an independent personality and an 
agreeably cosmopolitan conception of literature. 

For the facts — as distinguished from opinions — in my 


own book I have relied largely upon the works of Romero, 
Verissimo, Lima and Carvalho. The number of lesser 
books that may be read is far greater than their individual 
worth. I would suggest, merely as a starting-point for 
more individual delving, such informative books as the 
following : 

VICTOR ORBAN. Le Bresil Litteraire. Paris, no date. An 
anthology with many illustrations of authors. 

M. GARCIA MEROU. El Brasil Intelectud. A highly divert- 
ing account by an Argentine who was once Minister 
to the United States. 

sileros. Rio, 1922. A translation into Spanish of a 
number of poems representing the various movements 
since (and including) Romanticism. Bustamante is a 
Peruvian poet of worth and has added short notes to his 

LIVRO DO CENTENARIO. Rio, 1900. As part of the cele- 
bration of the 400th anniversary of Brazil's discovery, the 
government has sponsored the publication of four tomes, 
which covered the culture of the nation. Volume I 
contains a resume of Brazilian literature by the ubiqui- 
tous Romero, in which he slashes through the field in 
characteristic fashion. 

Very little has been translated into English from the Brazilian 
authors, particularly in the United States. As an example of the 
novel, there is, however, Aranha's Chanaan, issued as Canaan in 
Boston, 1 91 9. In Boston, too, 1921, was issued Brazilian Tales, 
containing short stories from Machado de Assis, Coelho Netto, 
Medeiros e Albuquereque and Carmen Dolores. Coelho's fine 
novel Rei Negro (The Black King), may be procured in a good 
French translation under the title Macambira. 


Abreu, Caplstrano de, 36, 38 Beethoven, 40 

Abreu, Casimiro de, 79, 80, 85, 88- Bell, A. F. G., 31, 51 

90, 113, 134, 186 Biiac, 82, to9, H3-116, 126, i5 
^sop, 30 209, 248, 273, 274, 279 

Alencar, Jose de, 55, 92, 94-98, 121, Bjorkman, Goran, 222, 227 

129, 131, 132, 247, 291 
Alencar, Mario de, 97 
d'Almeida, Julia Lopes, 263 
Almeida, M. de, 94, 99 
Alvarenga Peixoto, I. J. de, 54, 

56, 62, 66, 67 
Alves, Castro, 74, 85, 91, 92, 109, 

117, 129-141 
Amalia, Narcisa, 263 
Amaral, A. de, 132 
Amaral, P. de, 48 
Anchieta, Jose de, 5, 31, 32, 41 
Andrade, M. G. L. de, 213 
d'Annunzio, 189 
Apuleius, 188 

Bjornsen, B., 227 

Blanco-Fombona, 105 

Bonifacio, de Andrade, Jose, 56, 69- 

70, 286, 287, 288 
Borges, Carvalho, 223 
Borges de Barros, D., 17 
Botelho de Oliveira, M., 34, 39 
Bouterwek, 177 
Bradstreet, Anne, 262 
Braga, Theophilo, 71 
Brahms, 40 
Branner, J. C, 229 
Bridges, Robert, 21 
Brito Lima, J. de, 47 
Brito, Paulo, 143 

Aranha, Graga, 5, 95, 98, 124, 164, Brooks, Van Wyck, 172 

210, 234-247 
Araripe Junior, 217, 239 
Azevedo, Aluizio de, 117, 121, 122, 

164, 258, 259 
Azevedo, Alvares de, 74, 78, 79, 

80, 83-85, 90, gj, i86 

Brunetiere. 177 
Buckle, Thomas, 7, 9, 10 
Buddha, 112 
Byron, 83, 112, 140 

Cabello de Carbonero, Mercedes, 

Caldas Barbosa, 67 
Camara, Eugenia, 132 
Camoes, ii, '34, 35, 55, 59, 62, 66, 

74. 77, 183 

Bach, 40 

Balbi, A., 17 

Balzac, 95, 252, 253, 290 

Barbacena, 54 

Barreto, Tobias, 26, 91, 92, 132, Campos, Umberto de, 267 

176, 243, 244 Cardim, 5, 35, 36 

Barros, Joao de, 181 Carvalho, Elysio de, i, 24 

Basilio da Gama, J., 54, 55, 56, 57, Carvalho, Ronald de, 7, 10, 13, 

58, 78 26, 30, 31, 37, 40, 43, 44, 46, 




55. 63, 88, 91, 94, 105, 106, 107, Delfino, Luiz, 116 

108, no, 113, 123, 133, 177, Denis, Ferdinand, 30, 55, 177 


Carducci, 107 
Carnaris, 140 
Carniero, Leao, A., 232 
Castello Branco, C, 290 
Castilho, Antonio de, 116 
Castro, G. de, 37 
Catherine de Medicis, 60 
Catullus, i88, 2or 
Caviedes, 44 

Cejador y Frauca, Julio, 23 
Celso, Affonso, 109 
Cezar de Menezes, V. F., 47 
Chateaubriand, Assis, 232 
Chateaubriand, Rene, 95, 96 
Chaucer, 14 
Chekhov, 282 
Chocano, 105 
Christ, 140, 220, 252 
Cicero, 250 
Comte, A., 25 
Cook, F., 36 

Cooper, Fenimore, 26, 95, 96, 97 
Corneille, 289 

Correa, Diogo Alvares de, 60 
Correia, Raymundo, 109, 110-112, 

Cortines, Julia, 265 
Costa, Benedicto, 6, 19, 23, 94, 97, 

121, 164, 234, 242, 243, 246, 

Deus Luz, Fr. Chr, da M., 38 
Dias, Goncalves, 55, 58, 66, 74 

77-83, 85, 90, 94, 113, 134, 136, 

186, 188 
Dias, Theophilo, 109, no 
Dickens, 290 
Dioscorides, 35 
Dostoievsky, 290 
Dumas, 95 
Durao, Fr. J. Santa Rita de, 54, 55, 

56-59, 60 

Eckermann, 20 

Ega de Queiroz, 121, 290 

Eguren, J. M. de, 105 

Ellis, Havelock, 102, 172, 266 

Emanuel, King, of Portugal, 4 

Enrigueta, Maria, 264 

Fernandes, A., 232 

Ferrero, G., 98, 234, 237, 238, 240 

Ferreira de Lacerda, B., 263 

Fitzmaurice-Kelly, 262 

Flaubert, 103 

France, Anatole, 144, 164, 174 190, 

191, 240, 278, 283 
Franklin, 140 
Freire, Junqueira, 78, 79, 80, 85, 

87-88, 90, 186 
Freyre, Gilberto, 232 

252, 258 

Costa, Claudo M. da, 54, 61, 64, 66 Garrett, 58, 80, 87 

Crespo, Gongalves, 109 Gautier, Th., 274 

Croce, Benedetto, 88 Girriti de Belzu, Juaiia Manuela, 

Cruz e Souza, 116, 122-123 263 

Cuervo, Rufino, 14 Godoy, Lucilla, see Mistral, G. 

Cunha, Euclydes da, 7, 98, 124, Goethe, 19, 21, 84, 123, 242 

210-221, 234, 284 Gomes Carneiro, D. de, 38 

Cunninghame-Graham, R., 6, 210, Gomez de Avellaneda, 262, 263 

211, 215, 216, 217, 2i8, 219, Gongora, 39, 42, 47 

220, 221, 284 Gonzaga, Thomaz Antonio, 54, 61, 

Dante, 62, 84, 131, 200 63-66, 67 

Dario, Ruben, 104, 105, no, 286 Gorin, B., 50 

Deiro, E., 177 Gourmont, Remy de, 13 



Gracchi, 140 

Gsell, 190 

Guimaraes, Bernardo, 94, 98 

Guimaraes Junior, Luis, 91, 106, 

Gusmao, A. de, 48, 225 
Gusmao, B. L. de, 48 

Hals, Frans, 231 
Hawthorne, 26 
Heine, 136 

Henry H, (France), 60 
Herculano, A, de, 80, 87 
Heredia, 274 
Homer, 84, 179 
Horace, 87, 168 

Hugo, 87, 91, 95, 130, 131, 133. 
136, 141, 193, 196, 253 

Ibarbourou, Juana de, 264 

Ibsen, 240, 286 

Ines de la Cruz, Sor Juana, 262, 

Isaacs, Jorge, 99, 234 

Joao, Dom, 68, 73, 226, 227 

Juarez, 140 

Julia, Francisca, 193, 261-276 

Kant, 242 
Keats, 275 
Kipling, 260, 290 
Klopstock, 87 
Korner, T., 21 
Kossuth, 140 

La Fontaine, 30 

Lamartine, 87 

Leconte de Lisle, 274 

Lemaitre, 169, 174 

Leopardi, 83, 112 

Lewisohn, Ludwig, 170, 171, 172 

Lima, M. Oliveira de, 33, 36, 37, 

49, 120, 126, 222-233, 273 
Lobato, Monteiro, 15, 124, 125, 273, 


Longfellow, 26 
Lope de Vega, 37, 42 
Lopez, B., 122, 123 
Lopez, Fernao, i8i 
Lorente, M. J., 2?7 
Lowell, Amy, 264 
Lucian, 188 
Lucretius, 87 

Macaulay, 177 

Macedo, J. M. de, 92-94, 98, 121, 

Machado, Gilka, 264 

Machado de Assis, J. M. de, 91, 
93, 106, 107, 108, 109, no, 114, 
116, 117, ii8-t2i, 122, 123, 126, 
129, 131, 142-164, 165, 168, 
174, 193. 208, 27s, 290 

Maciel, A., 212, 213, 216, 218, 219, 

Maeterlinck, 240 

Maffei, 66 

Magalhaes, Gandavo, Pero de, 35 

Magalhaes, Gongalves de, 50, 55, 
58, 7+-77, 79. 100, 226 

Maistre, De, 87 

Marti, 229 

Martin, P. A., 226 

Martins Junior, 105 

Martins, Oliveira, 223 

Martins Penna, L. C, 100 

Martins, Silveira, 223 

Matto, Clorinda, 263 

Mattos, E. de, 38 

Mattos Guerra, Gregorio de, 38, 
40-45- 52, 56, 67, 114, 239 

Maupassant, 278, 290 

Medeiros e Albuquerque, 173 

Mello, Mario, 232 

Mencken, H. L., 14, 172 

Mendonga, S. de, 223 

Menendez y Pelayo, R., 14 

Menezes, E. de, 123 

Menezes, L. da Cunha de, 54 

Merou, Garcia, 98 

Metastasio, 51 



Milton, 87 

Miranda, Sa de, 11 

Mistral, Gabriela, pseud, of L. 

Godoy, 264 
Mohammed, 220 
Moliere, 51 
Montalvo, Juan, 287 
Moraes, Manoel de, 38 
Moraes, Prudente de, 212 
More, p. E., 170, 171 
Murat, Luiz, u6 
Musset, 83, 145 

Nabuco, J., 7, 23s, 243, 244 

Napoleon, 56, 140 

Netto, Coelho, 24, 25, 95, 124, 164, 

210, 248-260, 273 
Nietzsche, 242, 286 
Nobrega, 4 

Norberto de Sousa, J., 50, 92 
Norberto Silva, 175, 177 

Offenbach, 50 

Oliveira, Alberto, 109, no, 112- 

"3, 188 
Ottoni, Jose Eloy, 68, 69 
Ovid, 87 

Palma, Angelica, 263 

Pederneiras, Mario, 123 

Pedro II, Dom, 93 

Peixoto, Afranio, 15, 109, 131 

Pereyra, Carlos, 33, 231 

Petrarch, 62, 63 

Pinheiro, F., 26, 175 

Pliny, 35 

Pocohontas, 60 

Poe, 26, 123, 256, 282 

Pombal, 57, 61 

Pompeia, Raul, 117 

Porto-Alegre, M. A. de, 55, 77, 79, 

Pushkin, 112 

Quevedo, 42, 44 

Rabello, Laurindo, 78, 79, 85-87, 90, 

134, 186 
Renan, 164 

Ribeiro, B., n, 66, 181 
Ribeiro, Joao, 17, 26, 33, 51, 97, 

176, 274 
Ribeiro, Julio, 117 
Ribeiro, Thomaz, 116 
Rocha Pitta, 5, 47, 48, 60, 227, 244 
Rodo, 105, 166, 167, 171, 172, 173, 

174, 229, 286 
Rolim, Zalina, 263 
Romero, Sylvio, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 

20, 21, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 

33, 36, 38, 40, 41. 49, 50, 55, 
62, 67, 70, 91, io6, ii6, 125, 
166, 173, 174, 175, 176, 177, 178 

Rotrou, 51 

Rousseau, 69, 236 

Sa, Antonio de, 39 

Saenz-Pena, R., 231 

Sainte-Beuve, 177 

Salvador, Fr. V. de, 38, 180 

Salvarieta, Policarpa, 261 

Sao Carlos, 68, 69 

Sanchez, L. A., 44 

Santa Maria Itaparica, M. de, 47 

Sayce, A. H., 16 

Schopenhauer, 242 

Scott, 97 

Sebastian, Dom (King), 217, 218 

Shaw, B., 92 

Shelley, 200 

Silva, A. J, da, 48, 49-51, 64 

Siiva Alvarenga, M. I. de, 54, 56, 

62, 66 
Silva, Francisca Julia da, See 

Silva, Jose Asuncion, 260 
Silva, J. C. da, 273 
Sismondi, 177 
Smith, John, 60 
Soares de Franca, G. de, 47 



Scares de Souza, Gabriel, 5, 35, 

179, 182 
Souza, Claudio de, 100, 124 
Souza Caldas, 68, 69 
Souza, Fr. Luiz de, 183 
Spingarn, Joel Elias, 172 
Squire, Charles, 3 
Stecchetti, 107 
Storni, Alfonsina, 264, 266 
St. Vincent Millay, Edna, 264 
Sucre, 287 
Sullivan, Sir Arthur, 50 

Taine, 252 

Tasso, 37 

Tavora, Franklin, 98 

Taunay, Viscount Escragnolle de, 

98-99, 121 
Teasdale, Sara, 264 
Teixeira e Souza, 92, 94, 98 
Teixeira Pinto, Bento, 31, 33, 34 
Thackeray, 85 
Tolstoi, 240, 290 
Tueumana, Manuela la, 261 
Twain, 282 

Uccello, P., 190 
Urena, Salome, 264 

Valera, 14 

Van Doren, Carl, 97 

Varella, Fagundes, 91, 117, 13+ 

Varnhagen, 19, 33, 35, 69, 175, 177 

Vasari, 190 

Vaz de Caminha, 4 

Verissimo, Jose, 14, 15, 16, 33, 34, 
39, 41, 42, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 
61, 64, 65, 71, 78, 80, 81, 83, 
86, 88, 89, 90, 91, 98, 106, 109, 
116, 118, 120, 123, 126, 133, 
134, 136, 165-187, 208, 214, 219, 
220, 221, 229, 240, 241, 250, 
252, 265 

Verlaine, 43 

Vespucci, 4, 5 

Vicente, G., 11, 181 

Vieira, Adelina, 263 

Vieira, Antonio, 38 

Vigny, de, 95 

Violante do Ceo, Sor, 262 

Virgil, 131 

Wagner, 286 

Washington, 287 

Wells, 290 

Whitman, 26 

Winchester, 169 

Wolf, 10, 26, 42, 50, 55, 58, 63, 66, 

69, 72, 125, 175 
Wordsworth, 275 

Zola, 94, 117, 121, 23s, 240 



3 9999 05987 624 1 



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