Portuguese Modern Literature

Portuguese Modern Literature

Modern (around 1890 to around 1930)

From 1890 on, literary relations with foreign countries, especially France, became closer; the literary tendencies replaced one another more quickly. Trends in poetry of the fin de siècle can be found in Portugal with A. Nobre, of symbolism with Eugenio de Castro (* 1869, † 1944), C. de Almeida Pessanha, M. de Sá-Carneiro and R. G. Brandão. – The proclamation of the Republic (1910) and Portugal entered the First World War, favored the emergence of light emanating from the magazine “A Águia” (1910-32) neo-romantic Saudosismo, a messianic symbolism of Portuguese character that reflects on national values, the v. a. finds expression in the pantheistic poetry of Teixeira de Pascoais and Alfonso Lopes Vieira (* 1878, † 1946). Starting in 1915, a group of poets gathered around the magazine “Orpheu” who implemented the modernist concepts in the melancholy attitude of Saudosismo. F. A. Pessoa, whose work has strongly influenced Portuguese literature to this day, achieved European rank. J. Regio and Florbela Espanca (* 1894, † 1930) also belong in the modernist environment, the very first important author of Portuguese literature. J. Dantas and A. Cortês were successful on stage in the first decades of the 20th century.

The period of dictatorship (1933-74)

The intellectual climate under the Salazar regime had a decisive influence on literary development. Less affected by the censorship was poetry, which combined national traditions with international inspiration; so the modernist line of development became a. continued by V. Nemesio, the next generation of authors succeeded in processing surrealist impulses in an original way (Mario Cesariny de Vasconcelos, * 1923, † 2006; Alexandre O’Neill, * 1924, † 1986). Raúl Maria de Carvalho (* 1920, † 1984) and Eugenio de Andrade (* 1923, † 2005) created existential themes in lush, refined linguistic images, and D. Mourão-Ferreira wrote perfectly shaped erotic poetry. António Vítor Ramos Rosa (* 1924, † 2013) and António Osório (* 1933) used the possibilities of concrete poetry.

According to best-medical-schools, Neorealism played a decisive role in Portuguese literature. The refusal to face social problems has been broken up since the mid-1930s with the concept of the “Presença” (“present”); Since the novel »Gaibéus« (1939) by A. A. Redol, which renounces the individual hero, the authors have tried to influence social development in all genres through neorealistic attention to detail, partly encrypted because of the censorship (according to Manuel da Fonseca, * 1911, † 1993, with »Seara do vento«, 1958). Less overt neorealistic novels were written by F. Namora, A. Ribeiro, J. M. Ferreira de Castro, and V. Ferreira and C. de Oliveira. In the case of the latter two, the Portuguese variant is particularly clear: the exact description of the everyday life of the lower classes is backed up with philosophical reflection v. a. about the process of writing. Here, as in the distantly narrated short stories and novels by J. Cardoso Pires, which are closely tied to the national environment, there are signs of a changed artistic concept that is influenced by the French Nouveau Roman and existentialism and later the work of Álvaro Guerra (* 1936, † 2002) and Benigno José de Almeida Faria (* 1943) shaped. A panorama of Portuguese reality is revealed in the work of M. Torga, who mainly used traditional storytelling techniques, while J. de Sena combines surrealistic design with neorealistic elements. The novels by Agustina Bessa-Luís , which mostly refer to Portuguese history, have been very successful with readers since the 1950s.

Public theater performances under the Salazar regime were censored. The dramatists tried to bring socially relevant problems to the stage through alienation or satire (J. Régio; Joaquím Paço d’Arcos, * 1908, † 1979), the psychodramas by B. Santareno could for the most part only be performed after the end of the dictatorship become. In 1972 Maria Isabel Barreno (* 1939, † 2016), Maria Velho da Costa (* 1938) and Maria Teresa Horta (* 1937) with the »Novas cartas portuguesas« (German »New Portuguese letters…«), which name social and personal problems in Portuguese society from a female point of view in a previously unknown openness. The lawsuit brought against the authors was not put down until the “Carnation Revolution” in 1974.

Portuguese literature since 1974

After the “Carnation Revolution” it took a few years for new developments in literature to become visible, for the first time in the novel “Sinais de fogo” (“Fire Signs”) by J. de Sena , which appeared after the author’s death in 1978. In it he describes the life of a group of friends that changed dramatically with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. At the same time, A. Lobo Antunes and L. Jorge published their first novels, J. Saramago achieved their literary breakthrough with “Levantado do chão” (1980; German “Hope in the Alentejo”). J. Saramago, A. Antunes, and L. Jorge form the “triumvirate” of Portuguese literature today. In 1982 – fifty years after the author’s death – the discovery of F. Pessoa’s prose book “Livro do desassossego” (German: “The book of the assistant accountant Bernardo Soares”) was sensational. In the 1980s, M. Torga completed his cycle “A criação do mundo” (6 parts, 1937–81; German “The Creation of the World”), A. Bessa-Luís published a new novel almost every year, JC Pires and D. Mourão-Ferreira wrote more freely than before. Also poets like D. de Andrade or Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen (* 1919, † 2004) presented new masterpieces. After long years of censorship, unfamiliar freedoms opened up in literature. Many authors reported more strongly (V. Ferreira ; Almeida Faria, * 1943; Mário Claudio, * 1941; Mário de Carvalho, * 1944) or spoke for the first time (José Riço Direithino, * 1965; Pedro Paixão, * 1956; Jacinto Lucas Pires, * 1974; Rui Zink, * 1961). There was a spirit of optimism in the poetry, including with Nuno Júdice (* 1949), Al Berto (* 1948, † 1997), Herberto Helder (* 1930, † 2015), Manuel Alegre (* 1936). João de Melo (* 1949) wrote fascinating novels about his homeland, the Azores. New voices came from the former African colonies: Pepetela , L. Vieira , G. Almeida , José Eduardo Agualusa (* 1960), Mia Couto (* 1955). In Portugal itself, the high proportion of female authors in poetry and prose is remarkable, with Maria Gabriela Llansol (* 1931, † 2008), Luisa Costa Gomes (* 1954), Clara Pinto Correia (* 1960), T. Gersão , Helena Marques (* 1935), Hélia Correia (* 1949) or Ana Luisa Amaral (* 1956). Modern Portuguese literature presents a lively literary scene with topics that are as complex as they are varied, ranging from poetic introspectives to feminist questioning and dealing with dictatorship, colonial politics, the present and future of Portugal. A. Antunes, who publishes an eloquent novel almost every year, is certainly one of the most multifaceted interrogators of his time. In her seven novels to date, L. Jorge has dealt with both life in the former colonies and the changes in Portugal due to immigration and rapid modernization. J. Saramago In his novel, he examined the “glorious past” and the problematic present of his country as critically as the uncertain future.

Essay writing finds its most important representative in Eduardo Lourenço (* 1923). He has repeatedly dealt with the national feeling of the Portuguese, the “Saudade”.

In the drama, the authors adopt influences from the theater of the absurd (António Manuel de Sousa Aragão, * 1925, † 2008) or use folk elements (António Pires Cabral, * 1941).

Since the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature to J. Saramago (1998), the self-esteem in Portuguese literature has increased significantly: At the beginning of the new millennium, it confidently stands among its European partners.

Portuguese Modern Literature