1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Durão, José de Santa Rita

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DURÃO, JOSÉ DE SANTA RITA (1720–1784), Brazilian poet, was born near Marianna, in the province of Minas Geraes, in 1720, and died in Lisbon in 1754. He studied at Coimbra, in Portugal, graduated as a doctor of divinity, became a member of the Augustinian order of friars, and obtained a great reputation as a preacher. Having irritated the minister Pombal by his defence of the Jesuits, he retired from Portugal in 1759; and, after being imprisoned in Spain as a spy, found his way to Italy in 1763, where he became acquainted with Alfieri, Pindemonte, Casti and other literary men of the time. On his return to Portugal he delivered the opening address at the university of Coimbra for the year 1777; but soon after retired to the cloisters of a Gratian convent. At the time of his death he taught in the little college belonging to that order in Lisbon. His epic in ten cantos, entitled Caramúru, poema epico do descubrimento da Bahia, appeared in Lisbon in 1781, but proved at first a total failure. Its value has gradually been recognized, and it now ranks as one of the best poems in Brazilian literature—remarkable especially for its fine descriptions of scenery and native life in South America. The historic institute of Rio de Janeiro offered a prize to the author of the best essay on the legend of Caramúru; and the successful competitor published a new edition of Durão’s poem. There is a French translation which appeared in Paris in 1829.

See Adolfo de Varnhagen, Epicos Brazileiros (1845); Pereira da Silva, Os Varões illustres do Brasil (1858); Wolf, Le Brésil littéraire (Berlin, 1863); Sotero dos Reis, Curso de litteratura Portugueza e Brazileira, vol. iv. (Maranhão, 1868); José Verissimo, Estudos de literatura Brazileira, segunda serie (Rio, 1901).