SEASON 1 | EPISODE 8
Hello and welcome to Brazilian English Podcast, I’m your host and teacher Derek Noble and in this podcast we talk about Brazilian culture and entertainment to help Brazilian students of English reach fluency in English and to spread our values and beliefs worldwide. Every episode is full of rich vocabulary for all levels of English also full of content related to a universe that, as we know, is enormous and interesting: I’m talking about Brazilian culture.
Yo, guys, what’s up? How are you today? I hope you are good and I hope you like today’s topic, ‘cause personally it is one of my favorites.
Today, we’re gonna talk about Brazilian Literature, its origins and themes, its old and contemporary authors. Of course, I don’t intend to give you a comprehensive account1 of how stories were and are told in Brazil, rather, this is a selection or a guide to what I consider essential for a Brazilian or a foreigner to know about our literary production. I hope you like it. By the way, do you like to read books? What are your favorite authors? What is your favourite genre? Fiction or non-Fiction? Drama or Fantasy? Well, there are several genres to know and all of them have their peculiarities.
But, back to Brazil, we start our journey2 through our Literature with the first account of a literary work written in our territory. I am talking about the “Carta de Pero Vaz de Caminha” or “Carta a el-Rei Dom Manoel sobre o achamento do Brasil”, published in 1817. This description of the land, the natives and their behaviour is considered the first piece of literature ever written in Brazil and it’s pivotal3 to our historical self understanding. Have you ever read it? It’s short and fun to read with delightful4 parts where Caminha seems appalled5 by the fact that the natives walk naked naturally without being ashamed. It’s definitely worth your while.
After that we enter a period that historians call Colonial period with Father José de Anchieta and his dramas, which were inspired by medieval religious theater, represent the best of Brazil’s notable Jesuit theater of the 16th century. Anchieta also wrote the first grammar6 of the Tupí language in 1595. There is of course dispute when it comes to define what is the actual beginning of Brazilian Literature. Some critics will sustain it started after the first letters and the influence of colonial experience whereas others will claim it started in the 19th century, when there was finally a triad of author, work and reader. Despite insufficient certainty, it is essential to know the themes and motivations of early writers and to praise their qualities in depicting7 what was the ideal or the actual character of our people.
Following our timeline, we have two other important periods in Brazilian Literature: Romanticism and Realism. The first was inspired by the need of a national identity. By the way, it’s almost impossible to separate History and Literature at this point. Romanticism was all about nationalism and Indianism, that is, to glorify the exuberance of the tropical land and the mythical life of the “noble savage”8. It is during this period that many important works were written like José de Alencar’s “O Guarani” and Gonçalves Dias’s “Canção do Exílio”. Another significant poet of this period is Antônio de Castro Alves, who wrote antislavery9 poetry later collected in “O navio negreiro” and “Os escravos”, both published after his death.
With the emergence of the Republic came along the greatest author of all times: Machado de Assis. His clever style in prose and social critique put Brazilian Literature on the same level of many others internationally famous. His “Dom Casmurro” is his most prominent and widely10 known work. It is a fictional autobiography written in first person that depicts the coming of age of Bento Santiago, a husband who has a terrible memory, and thinks his wife cheated on him, even though he was never able to prove it. Machado de Assis also wrote more than 200 short stories about many other subjects ranging from sex and madness to self-delusion, perversion, frustration, social class, injustice, caprice, and other human follies11.
I could not finish this brief class on Brazilian Literature without talking about our contemporary authors. The list is immense so I will talk only about the ones I have read. The first one is Rodrigo Duarte Garcia, a recently published author who wrote “Os invernos da Ilha”. This is the story of Florian Links, a man who is not sure about which direction he should take in his life and decides to move to a monastery only to get into a treasure hunt12 which will change his life enormously. It’s a book for those who like Philosophy, History and adventure. Another great author of our generation is Daniel Galera and his “Barba ensopada de sangue” and “Mãos de cavalo”, two great books that place him at the top of fictional writers in Brazil. His rich descriptions of complex characters and details give our imagination not only a hint of reality but a solid picture of what the human soul is made of. Okay, okay, I will not move to a poetical style of critique, I’m simply a teacher, but I love books, what can I do?
Well, guys, these are my thoughts in a nutshell13 about Literature in Brazil, I hope you have learned something from me today and I hope to read your suggestions as well. Tell me, what are your favorite authors? What books by Brazilian contemporary authors would you recommend me? Let me know in the comments.
If you are listening to this podcast for the first time, don’t forget to check my website at www.inglescomderek.com.br/podcasts for transcriptions and exercises and a lot more content. Also, if you want to learn more English with videos and texts, follow me on Instagram, Facebook and subscribe to my Youtube channel. In all of them you can look for the username Inglês com Derek. Thanks for listening! Keep learning English every day and I’ll see you guys later with more podcasts like this, okay? Bye bye!!!
1 – account – relato
2 – journey – jornada
3 – pivotal – crucial
4 – delightful – encantador
5 – appalled – chocado
6 – grammar – gramática
7 – depicting – representar
8 – savage – selvagem
9 – antislavery – anti-escravidão
10 – widely – amplamente
11 – follies – bobagens
12 – hunt – caça
13 – in a nutshell – em resumo