Dias, Antônio Gonçalves (1823–1864)

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Dias, Antônio Gonçalves (1823–1864)

Antônio Gonçalves Dias (b. 10 August 1823; d. 3 November 1864), Brazilian poet. An outstanding romantic poet, Dias was the founder of truly national Brazilian literature. Romanticism represented perfectly the ideals of freedom, patriotism, and nativism so fervent in Brazil in the time of Independence. These sentiments were well expressed by Dias, whose work dealt mainly with Brazil's landscape and Indians (Indianism). He wrote exultant hymns to the beauty of tropical nature. With great imagination he treated Indian themes. Besides being a lyric poet, he was a prose writer, historian, ethnologist, and dramatist.

Born in Caxias, Maranhão, Dias was the illegitimate son of a Portuguese shopkeeper and a Brazilian cafuza (of mixed Indian and African blood). When his father married another woman, the child was separated from his mother and taken to live with the new couple. After his father's death, Dias went to Portugal to study at the University of Coimbra, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1845. His years in Portugal were very valuable. In addition to university work, he studied languages and literature, wrote intensively, made contact with great writers, and was loved and admired. Because of economic difficulties, however, he returned to Maranhão. In 1846 he went to Rio, where he published Primeiros cantos (First Songs, 1847), which was favorably reviewed by Alexandre Herculano. Other publications followed, including Leonor de Mendonça (1847); Segundos cantos (Second Songs, 1848), which contains "Sextilhas de Frei Antão" (Friar Antão's Sextets), a poem in the Portuguese troubadour style; and Últimos cantos (Last Songs, 1851).

Besides teaching positions, Dias held important government posts in Brazil and Europe. He published in Leipzig the second edition of his poems, titled Cantos (Songs, 1857), as well as Os timbiras (The Timbiras, 1857), and Dicionário da língua tupi (Dictionary of the Tupi Language, 1858). Additional works by Dias include Obras póstumas (6 vols., 1868–1869) and Poesia completa e prosa escolhida (1959).

In 1858 Dias traveled to Brazil, but in 1862 he returned to Europe seeking a cure for his poor health. Feeling worse, he sailed again for Brazil; although his wrecked ship was rescued from sinking, because he was ill, he was the only passenger who perished.

See alsoLiterature: Brazil .


Raymond Sayers, The Negro in Brazilian Literature (1956).

Fritz Ackermann, A obra poética de Antônio Gonçalves Dias, translated by Egon Schaden (1964).

David T. Haberly, "The Songs of an Exile: Antônio Gonçalves Dias," in Three Sad Races: Racial Identity and National Consciousness in Brazilian Literature (1983), pp. 18-31.

Almir C. Bruneti, "Antônio Gonçalves Dias," in Latin American Writers, edited by C. Solé and M. I. Abreu, vol. 1 (1989), pp. 185-193.

Additional Bibliography

Patriota, Margarida de Aguiar. Eu sou marabá: vida e obra do poeta Gonçalves Dias. Brasilia: Editora Universidade de Brasília, 2004.

Peres, Marcos Flamínio. A fonte envenenada: Transcendência e história em três hinos de Gonçalves Dias. São Paulo: Nova Alexandría, 2003.

                                    Maria Isabel Abreu

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