Page:Brazilian tales.djvu/14

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telligent. It did not correspond to a movement of reaction,—mystical, sensualist, individualist, socialistic or anarchistic,—as in Europe.

Two chief impulses were early present in Brazilian letters: that of Portuguese literature and that of the Jesuit colleges. At the time of the discovery of Brazil only Italy, Spain, France and Portugal possessed a literary life. Portugal, indeed, as the Brazilian critic points out, was then in its golden period. It boasted chroniclers like Fernao Lopes, novelists like Bernardim Ribeiro, historians like Joao de Barros, and dramatists of the stamp of Gil Vicente. The Jesuit colleges, too, were followed by other orders, spreading Latin culture and maintaining communication between the interior and the important centers. It is natural, then, that early letters in Brazil should have been Portuguese not only in language, but in inspiration, feeling and spirit. Similarly, we find the early intellectual dependence of the Spanish American countries upon Spain, even as later both the Spanish and the Portuguese writers of America were to be influenced greatly by French literature. "Brazilian poetry," says Verissimo in the little essay already referred to, "was already in