Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/176

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

field of poetry. Garrett read the masterpieces of contemporary foreign literature during his exiles in England and France, and, The imbued with the national spirit, he produced in 1825 Romantic the poem Camoes, wherein he broke with the established rules of composition in verse and destroyed the authority of the Arcadian rhymers. His poetry like that of his fellow emigré, the austere Herculano, is eminently sincere and natural, but while his short lyrics are personal in subject and his longer poems historical, the verse of Herculano is generally subjective and the motives religious or patriotic. The movement not only lost much of its virility and genuineness, but became ultra-Romantic with A. F. de Castilho (q.v.), whose most conspicuous followers were João de Lemos and the poets of the collection entitled O Trovador; Soares de Passos, a singer for the sad; the melodious Thomas Ribeiro, who drew his inspiration from Zorilla and voiced the opposition to a political union with Spain in the patriotic poem D. Jayme. Mendes Leal, a king in the heroic style, Gomes de Amorim and Bulhao Pato, belong more or less to the same school. On the other hand José Simoes Dias broke with the Romantic tradition in which he had been educated, and successfully sought inspiration from popular sources, as his Pertirtsulares proves.

In 1865 there arose a serious and lengthy strife in the Portuguese Parnassus, which came to be known as the Coimbra The question, from its origin in the university city. Coimbra Its immediate cause was the preface which Castilho contributed to the poem Moçidade of Pinheiro Chagas, and it proclaimed the alliance of poetry with philosophy. The younger men of letters regarded Castilho as the self-elected pontiff of a mutual-praise school, who, ignorant of the literary movement abroad, claimed to direct them in the old paths, and would not tolerate criticism. The revolt against his primacy took the form of a fierce war of pamphlets, and led ultimately to the dethronement of the blind bard. The leaders in the movement were Anthero de Quental (q.v.) and Dr Theophilo Braga, the first a student of German philosophy and poetry, the second a disciple of Comte and author of an epic of humanity, Visao dos tempos, whose immense work in the spheres of poetry, criticism and literary history, marred by contradictions, but abounding in life, cannot be judged at present. In the issue literature gained considerably, and especially poetry, which entered on a period of active and rich production, still unchecked, in the persons of João de Deus (q.v.) and the Coimbrans and their disciples. The Campo de flares contains some of the most splendid short poems ever written in Portuguese, and an Italian critic has ventured to call João de Deus, to whom God and women were twin sources of inspiration, the greatest love poet of the 10th century. Simplicity, spontaneity and harmony distinguished his earlier verses, which are also his best, and their author belongs to no school but stands alone. A preponderance of reflection and foreign influences distinguish the poets now to be mentioned. Anthero de Quental, the chief of the Coimbrans, enshrined his metaphysical neo-Buddhistic ideas overshadowed by extreme pessimism, and marked the stages of his mental evolution, in a sequence of finely-wrought sonnets. These place him in the sacred circle near to Heine and Leopardi, and, though strongly individualistic, it is curious to note in them the influence of Germanism on the mind of a southerner and a descendant of the Catholic navigators of the 16th century. Odes moderuas, written in youth, show “Santo Anthero, ” as his friends called him, in revolutionary, freethinking and combative mood, and are ordinary enough, but the prose of his essays, e.g. Considerations on the Philosophy of Portuguese Literary History, has that peculiar refinement, clearness and conciseness which stamped the later work of this sensitive thinker. A subtle irony pervades the Rimas of João Penha, who links the Coimbrans with Guerra Junqueiro and the younger poets. Partly philosophical, partly naturalistic, Junqueiro began with the iron1cal composition, A Morte de D. João; in Patria he evoked in a series of dramatic scenes and lashed with satire the kings of the Braganza dynasty, and in Os Simples he interprets in sonorous stanzas the life of country-folk by the light of his powerful imagination and pantheistic tendencies. The Claridades de Sul of Gomes Leal, a militant anti-Christian, at times recall Baudelaire, and fiashes of genius run through Anti-Christo, which is alive with the instinct of revolt. The S6 of the invalidish Antonio Nobre is intensely Portuguese in subjects, atmosphere and rhythmic sweetness, and had a deep influence. Cesario Verde sought to interpret universal nature and human sorrow, and the Parnassian Goncalves Crespo may be termed a deeper, richer Coppée. His M irtiaturas and N oeturrtos have been re-edited by his widow, D. Maria Amalia Vaz de Carvalho, a highly gifted critic and essayist whose personality and cercle call to mind the 18th-century poetess, the Marqueza de Alorna. The French symbolist's found an enthusiastic adept in Eugenio de Castro. Antonio Feijo and José de Sousa. Monteiro have written verse remarkable by its form, while perhaps the most considered of the later poets are Antonio Correa de Oliveira and Lopes Vieira. Many other genuine bards might be mentioned, because the Portuguese race can boast of an unceasing flow of lyric poetry.

Garrett took in hand the reform of the stage, moved by a desire to exile the translations on which the playhouses had long subsisted. He chose his subjects from the national history, and began with the Auto de Gil Vicente, in which he resuscitated the founder of the theatre, and followed this up with other prose plays, among which the Ayageme de Sarttarem takes the palm; finally he crowned his labours by Frei Luiz de Sousa, a tragedy of fatality and pathos and one of the really notable pieces of the century. The historical bent thus given to the drama was continued by the versatile Mendes Leal, by Gomes da Amorim and by Pinheiro Chagas, who all however succumbed more or less to the atmosphere and machinery of ultra-Romanticism, while the plays of Antonio Ennes deal with questions of the day in a spirit of combative liberalism. In the social drama, Ernesto Biester, and in comedy Fernando Caldeira, also no mean lyric poet, are two of the principal names, and the latter's pieces, A Mantilha da Renda and A Madrugada, have a delicacy and vivacity which justifies their success. The comedies of Gervasio Lobato are marked by an easy dialogue and a sparkling wit, and some of the most popular of them were written in collaboration with D. João de Camara, the leading dramatist of the day, one of whose pieces, Os Velhos, has been translated and staged abroad. To Henrique Lopes de Mendonga, scholar, critic and poet, we owe some strong historical plays as well as the piece Zé Palonso, written with Lobato, which made a big hit. The playwrights also include Julio Dantas, and Dr Marcellino Mesquita, author of Leonor Telles and other historical dramas, as well as of a powerful piece, Dôr Suprema.

Herculano led the way in the historical romance by his Lendas e narrativas and O Monasticon, two somewhat laboured productions, whose progenitor was Walter Scott; they still find readers for their impeccable style. Their most popular successors have been A Moçidade de D. João V. and A ultima corrida de touros reaes em Salvaterra by Rebello da Silva, and Um Anno na Corte by the statesman, Andrade Corvo, the first and the last superior books. The novel shares with poetry the predominant place in the modern literature of Portugal, and Camillo Castello Branco (q.v.), Gomes Coelho and Eça de Queiroz are names which would stand very high in any country. The first, a wonderful impressionist though not perhaps a great novelist, describes to perfection the domestic and social life of Portugal in the early part of the 19th century. His remarkable works include Amor ale Perdição, Amor de Salvação, Retroto de Ricardiua, and the series entitled Novellas do Minho; moreover some of his essays in history and literary criticism, such as Bohemia do Espirito, rank only next to his romances. Gomes Coelho, better known as Julio Dirtiz, records his experiences of English society in Oporto in A Familia ingleza, and for his romantic idealism he has been dubbed British; Portuguese critics have accused him of imitating Dickens.