Pena, Luís Carlos Martins (1815–1848)

views updated

Pena, Luís Carlos Martins (1815–1848)

Luís Carlos Martins Pena (b. 5 November 1815; d. 7 December 1848), considered the founder of Brazilian comedy and cofounder, with Gonçalves de Magalhães, of Brazilian theater. Pena began writing plays as a student in his native Rio de Janeiro between 1832 and 1834. The first to be staged, the comedy O juiz de paz na roça (1842; A Rural Justice of the Peace, 1948), opened successfully on 4 October 1838. That year Pena received the first of many civil service appointments.

Pena mastered the romantic comedy of manners, initially in rural settings with abundant local color, later in urban settings with an almost helter-skelter movement on stage as his works became more outrightly farcical. His characters are often caricatures but they ring true, especially linguistically. Usually pillorying the lower-middle class, he portrayed penetratingly Brazilian society at the time of King João VI's residency in Brazil (1807–1821).

Enormously popular during his lifetime, Pena wrote prolifically. His known plays include twenty-two comedies—ten new ones in 1845 alone—and six dramas. The former are still played to enthusiastic audiences. The dramas, five of them set outside Brazil, lack authenticity and appeal. He died in Lisbon.

See alsoTheater .


Pena's works are available in A Rural Justice of the Peace: Brazilian Comedy in One Act and Four Scenes, translated by Willis Knapp Jones, in Poet Lore 54, no. 2 (Summer 1948): 99-119; and Teatro de Martins Pena, edited by Darcy Damasceno and Maria Filgueiras, 2 vols. (1956).

See also Leon F. Lyday, "Satire in the Comedies of Martins Pena," in Luso-Brazilian Review 5, no. 2 (December 1968): 63-70.

Claude L. Hulet, Brazilian Literature, vol. 1 (1974), pp. 254-261.

Colin M. Pierson, "Martins Pena: A View of Character Types," in Latin American Theater Review 11, no. 2 (1978): 41-48.

Nola Kortner Aiex, "Martins Pena: Parodist," in Luso-Brazilian Review 18, no. 1 (1981): 155-160.

Additional Bibliography

Heliodora, Barbara. Martins Pena, uma introdução. Rio de Janeiro: Academia Brasileira de Letras, 2000.

                                 Norwood Andrews Jr.