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Literature and Writing

Brazilian Literature

Caminha, Portuguese language, king of Portugal, Native American cultures, native people

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Brazilian Literature, literature created by the inhabitants of Brazil, primarily in the Portuguese language. In 1500 Pero Vaz de Caminha, a Portuguese scribe traveling on one of the first vessels to arrive in the land now known as Brazil, wrote a letter to the king of Portugal describing the new land and the encounter with its native people. Caminha’s letter, the first document written in Brazil, initiated themes that would be developed throughout Brazilian literature, particularly the idea of tropical Brazil as a kind of earthly paradise inhabited by people of an innocent sensuality. Implicitly expressed in Caminha’s perspective was the clash of European and Native American cultures and worldviews inherent in the encounter. This conflict also became central in the evolution of Brazilian literature. Over the years Brazilian writers have often sought to develop forms of expression based on a unique cultural identity while at the same time desiring to become part of the Western literary tradition.


Johnson, Randal, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of California at Los Angeles. Chair of the Program on Brazil at the Latin American Center. Author of "Brazilian Cinema".

Article key phrases:

Caminha, Portuguese language, king of Portugal, Native American cultures, native people, new land, time, perspective, themes, conflict, letter, document, encounter, vessels

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