Fernando Pessoa

Portugal is a country of poets and writers. A country of daring and romantic, nostalgic and adventurous people, who have put their Portuguese souls into their chapters and verses. King D. Dinis, in the 12th Century, was an inspired troubadour and we can travel to the heart of the Middle Ages through the tales of Fernão Lopes. On stage, Gil Vicente's plays, though written 500 years ago, appear timeless and still bring a smile to our lips. And Luís de Camões, the greatest of them all, almost losing his life to create his epic «Os Lusíadas», which narrates the deeds of the Portuguese as they sailed on seas never previously navigated.

The Discoveries created a new type of literature, that of travel; of particular note are the accounts written by Pêro Vaz de Caminha. Romanticism brought us names such as Almeida Garrett, Cesário Verde, Antero de Quental, Alexandre Herculano and Camilo Castelo Branco. At the end of the 19th Century, Eça de Queirós, Oliveira Martins and Teófilo Braga managed to subvert the classical rules and follow the principles of a new culture, in large part linked to French Realism. 

Truly innovative was Fernando Pessoa, the most important figure in 20th Century Portuguese writing, whose talent was such and whose writings so extensive that he had to take refuge behind countless heteronyms. He is the great poet of symbolism and modernism, a genius who asked questions in verse concerning the fundamental questions of human existence, as a philosopher or a person coping with daily survival, in a writing style built on the pillars which have truly defined our modernity.

Eugénio de Andrade, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, António Ramos Rosa, Mário Cesariny, Herberto Helder and Vasco Graça Moura are other essential names to be found on the list of contemporary poets. And the list for fiction includes the works of Virgílio Ferreira, Miguel Torga, José Cardoso Pires, Agustina Bessa-Luís, António Lobo Antunes and José Saramago, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998.

To know more:
Camoes Institute: Portuguese Literature

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