O outro discurso seniano do 10.6.1977 e o “Dia de Camões” nos USA. (1a. parte)

bandeiraEnquanto JS discursava na Guarda, outro texto seu — bem mais breve e contido — era lido em San Diego, na Califórnia, nas celebrações do “Dia de Camões”.

A propósito da comemoração da data em território americano, e da participação constante de JS, o texto do Professor George Monteiro nos traz elucidativos elementos.

 

While speaking at the Guard, another text by JS – much shorter and restrained – was read in San Diego, California, in the celebrations of “Dia de Camões”.

In concerning the celebration of the date on American soil, and constant participation of JS, the text of Professor George Monteiro brings enlightening elements.

 

[SAUDAÇÃO PARA O DIA DAS COMUNIDADES]
Sendo-me impossível estar presente, como tanto desejava, às comemorações do Dia das Comunidades Portuguesas, que este ano se realizam em San Diego, outro dos lugares da Califórnia aonde os portugueses têm marcado a sua presença e honrado com ela a pátria de origem e a outra pátria que os acolheu, não quero todavia deixar de estar aí nesse dia, e por isso a todos envio as seguintes palavras de saudação. Este simbólico Dia tem mais de um significado. E uma oportunidade de os portugueses e os luso-americanos se juntarem para recordarem, com saudade e com o orgulho, a sua pátria de origem, gloriosa entre todas, da qual ninguém deve envergonhar-se de ser filho ou ser um descendente. É uma ocasião de mostrar, com aquele espírito de paz e de concórdia, que os portugueses sabem ter quando querem, aos Estados Unidos e à Califórnia, que a cultura portuguesa existe, é recordada por quem se sente ligado a ela, e deseja ser reconhecida com a dignidade e o apoio público a que tem direito. E é, neste momento da vida portuguesa, em que tantas dúvidas e inquietações de vária espécie pesam sobre o futuro de Portugal, e sobre uma liberdade que Portugal voltou a conhecer após décadas de forçados silêncio e escuridão, algo mais e de primacial importância — o sinal firme de que todos os portugueses, para além do que possa ideologicamente dividi-los ou opô-los, colocam a unidade e integridade de uma pátria secular acima de tudo. Há pecados que se pagam caríssimo neste mundo e por gerações, às vezes sem remissão: e entre eles avulta o despedaçar-se de uma pátria una e indivisível. Portugal tem sobrevivido a tudo, numa longa história, porque jamais se dividiu, ainda quando os seus filhos lutaram uns contra os outros. Neste momento, porém, a mensagem que nos cumpre enviar a todos é a de unidade, serenidade, esperança, confiança no futuro de um país a quem, durante mais de cinco séculos, desde que foram descobertos e povoados, os Açores têm dado alguns dos portuguesa mais ilustres, sem contarmos os milhares e milhares de anónimos que, com o seu nome honrado, dignificam Portugal aonde quer que estejam, e tal como tem sucedido pelo mundo adiante, desde que Portugal existe. Veneram os açorianos, que são a esmagadora maioria dos portugueses e luso-americanos da Califórnia, o Espírito Santo, que é como que uma festa «nacional» para eles. Não tenho autoridade eclesiástica para invocar as bênçãos dele e a iluminação que Ele distribui. Mas, como poeta que sou, tenho autoridade poética para lembrar que o Espírito abandona quem renega o Pai ou quem não conhece o Filho como seu Pai e seu Irmão. Assim, que este Dia, em 1977, seja mais uma vez um grande dia de Portugal e para os portugueses.

 

* Texto sem título e sem data, lido na ausência de JS, em San Diego, California, no 10 de junho de 1977. Inédito até sua publicação em Rever Portugal – textos políticos e afins, Lisboa, Guimarães, 2011, p. 323-4

 

COMMEMORATING CAMÕES IN THE UNITED STATES: JORGE DE SENA’S LEGACY
by George Monteiro

Camões sem commemorações, necessários a vários outros respeitos,
é para nós mesmos neste momento, como nós seremos mais tarde ou
mais cedo, uma sombra…
Óscar Lopes, “Camões e Jorge de Sena” (1995)
The famous and highly regarded writer José Régio was asked to take the time to travel to Lisbon to record some of his poetry for dissemination at the International Colloquium on Luso-Brazilian Studies scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C., in October 1950. He refused to do so. He was not disposed to do any such thing, he informed Adolfo Casais Monteiro, his erstwhile colleague in the editing of the journal Presença, who had decided, mistakenly, it turned out, that Régio’s reluctance to participate in the venture was due to his proverbial shyness or timidity. Under renewed pressure, Régio felt obligated to elaborate on his reasons for refusing:

 

Embora obscuramente, (e tanto melhor se um bocadinho de populariedade do meu nome pudesse tornar tal reacção menos obscura!) lutarei contra certas americanices do mundo moderno. Pois Você pensa que esses discos poderão, realmente, contribuir para qualquer real interesse da América pela nossa Literatura? poderão ser real testemunho de tal interesse?! Deus me valha! A única maneira eficaz, autêntica, séria, de os Estados Unidos manifestarem qualquer interesse pela nossa Literatura—seria juntar, nas suas Bibliotecas, livros nossos, (como, alias, creio que em parte estão fazendo); depois promover a expansão, por todos os meios, desses livros: mas uma expansão real, fundada no seu conhecimento, e não em reclames que dispensam o conhecimento da própria coisa reclamada, e, sobretudo, traduzir aqueles dos nossos livros que disso fossem julgados dignos, e espalhar essas traduções…. Isto sim, será obra séria; seria obra séria.

 

Echoing countless numbers of writers before him—in Portugal and, of course, elsewhere—Régio makes his point. Reader neglect, though not just abroad—other countries, other languages—is the durable theme and chronic complaint of poets and writers in all languages. In Régio’s case, over a half-century since he voiced his complaint, his work is virtually unknown in the United States, apart from academic circles, and then only, one suspects, by those professionally involved with the literature of Portuguese-expression. Surely such complaints have lost some of their force in Fernando Pessoa’s case, at least in recent years, which have seen an impressive growth of interest in the United States. And in all fairness, they cannot be made about Camões, especially not beginning with the early nineteenth century. For although it is true that Camões has never been much celebrated in the United States (at least not ceremonially or in pageant-like fashion) it is equally true that Camões and his major work have been more widely appreciated than is commonly thought.
As I have tried to show elsewhere, principally in The Presence of Camões: Influences on the Literature of England, America, and Southern Africa, published in 1996, that while Camões’s work was known to writers working in the English language in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it was in the nineteenth century that his work was most influential. In that century he was read by, among others, Joel Barlow, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Richard Henry Wilde (a poet and scholar who not only translated some of Camões’s sonnets but also wrote an important book on Camões’s kindred spirit, Torquato Tasso). Remarkably, however, there was no full translation of Os Lusíadas published in the United States until the exact middle of the twentieth century when the Hispanic Society of America brought out the fine version by the poet-critic Leonard Bacon. And while there are dozens of poetic tributes to Camões in English, only Melville, Kermit Roosevelt, and Leonard Bacon, among the Americans, have I identified to date as having written poems about Camões. As for public celebrations of the 3rd centennial, there was certainly not only nothing to compare with what took place in the British Empire, Brazil or elsewhere, but there were simply none whatsoever. Searches of the major newspapers and journals of the day turn up nothing regarding such celebrations. A search of Portuguese-language newspapers should turn up information regarding utterly local commemorations in social clubs or the like if, indeed, such commemorations took place.
In the romance and modern language departments of a small handful of universities, things were somewhat better. (Although it must be said, parenthetically, that there seems to have been precious few doctoral dissertations devoted to Camões in their entirety or in appreciable part defended in American universities. A quick count of the titles contained in the most complete listing to date of doctoral dissertations on Portuguese themes in United States universities turns up, as of mid-1995, only three certainties, and in one of those three, the name of Camões does not appear in the title. ) As a professor of languages teaching at Harvard University in the 1840s, the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had anthologized both Camões’s lyric poetry and, in excerpt, his epic poem. His impressively inclusive (for the time) Poets and Poetry of Europe was first published in 1845 in Philadelphia and achieved several reprintings throughout the rest of the century.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century both Yale University and Harvard University had renowned scholars interested in Portuguese poetry—J. D. M. Ford at the latter, and Henry Roseman Lang at the former. And at Columbia University—it was announced in the New York Times in 1901—

 

A series of lectures on Portuguese poetry, which is thought to be the preliminary step toward the foundation of a course in Portuguese at Columbia, will begin at the university on Wednesday. The series will be given by William Tenney Brewster. It will consist of four lectures, which will be given as follows: April 3, “Portuguese Popular Poetry”; April 10, “The Predecessors of Camoens”; April 17, “Camoens”; April 24, “Portuguese Poetry After Camoens.”

 

It is interesting to me that Brewster was a member of the Columbia University Department of English, and that, in 1931, as reported in the New York Times, he donated to the University his “volumes of Portuguese literature,” along with—thoughtfully—“a fund for binding part of the collection.”

When, in the early years of the twentieth century, the Brazilian Joaquim Nabuco, a student of Camões and lifelong promoter of all things Camonean, found himself in the Washington as his country’s Ambassador to the United States, he took upon himself to give lectures on Camões at two major American universities in the East, Cornell and Yale, and at Vassar College. At the time of his death he was preparing a similar lecture for delivery at Harvard University. At Yale, Nabuco departed from his prepared text for a moment to implore Henry Lang, who was in his audience, to undertake a translation of Os Lusíadas. No such translation was ever published and my own look into his espólio, admittedly not exhaustive, did not turn up any evidence that he ever attempted such a translation. What seems most significant to me about Nabuco’s American lectures on Camões is that major American institutions such as Yale, Cornell, Vassar, Harvard were receptive, not only to Nabuco, but to the subject he had chosen—a Portuguese poet of the sixteenth century—on that must even then have been considered a bit off-beat for a Brazilian diplomat. That was a different time, of course; it is hard to imagine anything similar happening today.

Interest in Camões was expressed by another member of the Columbia University faculty when, in 1910, George Edward Woodberry, a professor of comparative literature, devoted a chapter to Camões, “the maker of the only truly modern epic,” in his well-received book, a collection of essays on the theme announced in his title, The Inspiration of Poetry. Of the man who wrote the first modern epic, Woodberry says, “Camoens shows in his verse as he was in life, with a naturalness and vigor, with an unconscious realism, a directness, an intensity and openness that give him to us as a comrade.” The critic’s notion of Camões as a “comrade” would be echoed elsewhere over the years, notably in singular poems by Kermit Roosevelt (President Theodore Roosevelt’s adventurous son) and Roy Campbell, the Lusophilic South African whose fine sonnet entitled “Luís de Camões” was translated into Portuguese by Jorge de Sena in 1952. Woodberry’s book was followed, three years later, by an edition of The Book of the Epic, H. A. Guerber’s survey of the world’s great epics, ranging from the Greeks’ Iliad to the Indians’ Mahabharata. Besides the usual biographical account of Camões’s life, Guerber offers a useful book-by-book summary of Os Lusíadas.
In 1924, commemorating the quadricentennial of the birth date most commonly assigned to Camões, there appeared important essays in two of the major newspapers in New York. In “Camoens, 1524-1924,” an essay that appeared on the first two pages of the New York Evening Post Literary Review in September, Merritt Y. Hughes discusses Camões’s great poetic achievement, partly in the context of his having influenced John Milton’s poem Paradise Lost and Herman Melville’s sea fiction, most notably White-Jacket and Moby-Dick. He also notes that “toward 1850 the Latin countries united to canonize him a literary saint, and even in New York City a statue has been put up in his honor.” (I have not yet located this statue.) It was Camões’s singular achievement, according to Merritt Hughes, to be “the only man of the Renaissance, when every one was writing epics and when Europe was appropriating Asia and the Americas and fighting its wars of religion, who made a successful attempt to write an epic about a contemporary subject. That in itself would be a good claim to fame, but in addition ‘The Lusiads’ foreshadows modern ethical, political and economic ideas, and suggests much that is usually believed to be characteristic of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in poetry.”

In “Portugal’s Poetical One-Eyed Devil,” an essay in the New York Times in July 1924, Eva Madden, a writer of some popularity at the time, rehearses, in loving detail, the “facts” of the poet’s romantic and, as we know, romanticized biography. In the recent biography of Camões by Aubrey Bell, she tells us, “at last the world is to know all there is authentically to know of the adventures of the most daring and active poet of all literature. No figure of letters can even approach him as Munchausen-like adventurer, for Camoens himself actually went through the thrilling events of the many chapters related of him.” She concludes her genial piece with an assessment of Camões’s English-language translators (though she makes mistakes in two of the names): “The ‘Lusiad’ was first put into English by Robert [actually Richard] Fanshawe in 1665; then by Mickles [Mickle] in 1776. A third version, and the last, was made by Sir Richard Burton—with more accuracy than mellowness of rendition—none of the three having caught with any too great felicity the poetic vigor, the Portuguese voluptuousness of expression, of the amazing original.” Toward the end of his long career at Harvard University, Jeremiah Ford published a facsimile edition of Sir Richard Fanshawe’s 1655 English version of Os Lusíadas, followed, a few years later, by a scholarly, well-annotated textual edition—the first ever in the United States—of Camões’s epic.

The academic study of Camões in the United States received an appreciable boost when, in 1965, the poet, critic, and all-round man of letters Jorge de Sena left Brazil for the United States. He did not return to Brazil. For the next thirteen years he taught in the United States, first at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and then, for the remaining years of his life, at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Right off, he participated in the VI Colóquio Internacional de Estudos Luso-Brasileiros, held in September 1966—partly in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the watch of Francis M. Rogers, Harvard University’s Nancy Clark Smith Professor of the Languages and Literature of Portugal, and partly in New York under the auspices of the Hispanic Society of America. And in December of the same year, at meetings of the Modern Language Association held in the city of New York, Sena delivered a paper entitled “Camões revisitado.” In 1969 he published his provocative and controversial study of Os Sonetos de Camões e o Soneto Quinhentista Peninsular, a work that applied an arithmetical method of his own devising to solve the problem of which sonnets truly belong in the Camonean canon, followed a year later by the collection of essays entitled A Estrutura de ‘Os Lusíadas’ e Outros Estudos Camonianos e de Poesia Peninsular do Século XVI. It was altogether fitting, then, that Sena was invited to be the featured opening speaker in a two-day symposium on Camões to be held on April 21-22, 1972, at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut. The invitation was extended by the organizer and administrator of the symposium, Dr. António Cirurgião, recently appointed to the university’s faculty. Cirurgião’s idea was that it was only fitting, especially given the journal Hispanis’ recent tribute to Galdós, that Camões merited celebration as well. Discovering that there were not plans to do so at any of the American universities best equipped to do so—Harvard, Yale, the University of Wisconsin, among others—he secured the approval of his department head at the University of Connecticut to organize such a commemoration.

At the Univertsity of Connecticut Sena’s his keynote talk was entitled “Camões—New Observations on His Epic and His Thinking.” Directing his analysis to the texture (tessitura) of the poem Os Lusíadas, he promised to get at the poet’s deepest intentions—unrecognied or greatly obscured over centuries of critical commentary. He focused his explication on the occurences and repetition of various terms and ideas shifting in context, for example, natura, amor, santos and milagres, virtude, púdico and partes. He elabored on his analysis for more two hours (over twice the allotted time), and then he followed his talk with a reading of the entry on Camões he had just written for the Encyclopædia Britannica, itself amounting to a second talk. More about the encyclopedia article later.

The other speakers on the first day were Heitor Martins (Indiana University), whose title was “Camões, beyond Vergil: an Investigation of the Epic”; and Charles Boxer (Yale University), whose proposed topic was “Christians and Spices in Os Lusíadas” (but who, because, as he explained, he “could not find sufficient material” for his “suggested paper on ‘Christians and Spices in the Lusíadas,’” spoke, rather, on “Camões and Diogo do Couto: Brothers in Arms and Literature”). On the second day the two speakers were Wilson Martins (New York University), whose title was “Camões and the Super-Camões,” and Louis L. Martz (Yale University), who spoke on “Os Lusíadas in England: Camões and Milton.” It was an international cast, overall, with featured participants hailing from countries such as Brazil, Portugal, and the United Kingdom. Of the contributors to the special issue of Ocidente that grew out of the conference, four of them hailed from Portugal and Brazil—Sena, Wilson and Heitor Martins, and Garcia—although all of them were then teaching at universities in the United States. Of the three contributors from the United Kingdom—Boxer, Pierce, and Walker—one of them, Boxer, was then teaching in the United States. The remaining eight—Martz, Thomas and George Hart, Miller, Piper, Reinhardt, Schmitt, and Sims—were Americans teaching at universities in the United States.

Tied into the theme of the symposium was a production by the university theater group of Henri de Montherlant’s La Reine Mort, given in English as The Queen After Death. Chosen to complement the symposium, this play on the theme of Inês de Castro was open to the conference participants on the evening concluding the first day of the meetings. According to António Cirurgião, Jorge de Sena judged this college production of Montherlant’s play to be “an improvement over the original.” “Sena didn’t like Montherlant,” Cirurgião explains. The production ran for a week.

The lectures given at the symposium, along with a number of other pieces, including a bibliography of Camões in English translation, were published in November of that same year in a special number, running to 223 pages, of volume 35 (new series) of Ocidente, the venerable, but soon to be lamented, “Revista Portuguesa de Cultura.” Included were papers on Richard Francis Burton as Camões’s translator (Frederick C. H. Garcia), the idea of history in Os Lusíadas (Thomas R. Hart), Os Lusíadas and the “Cancioneiro Geral” (Neil Miller), Camões and Inêz de Castro (Frank Pierce), teaching Os Lusíadas in Leonard Bacon’s 1950 translation (Anson C. Piper), August Graf von Platen’s admiration for Camões (George W. Reinhardt), the nineteenth-century American novelist Herman Melville admiration for, and indebtedness to, Camões (Jack Schmitt), Os Lusíadas and John Milton’s Paradise Lost (James H. Sims), the symbolic uses of Bacchus and Venus in Os Lusíadas (Roger M. Walker), and Camões in English—a bibliography (George C. Hart). Missing was Heitor Martins’s paper on Camões and Vergil, a summary of which was given as an abstract.

Jorge de Sena also participated, along with Norwood Andrews, Jr. and Alberto Machado da Rosa, in a one-day quadric-centennial commemoration of the publication of Os Lusíadas held at the University of California, Los Angeles, on May 12th. It is not coincidental, moreover, that shortly after his participation in the symposium in Connecticut and the commemoration in California, Sena chose, in May, to share with the readers of the Diario Popular his thoughts on the Camonean celebrations then going on, internationally and locally, in Portugal. His is a warning against the provincial and chauvinistic misuses of Camões and his work:

Assim, celebrem-se Os Lusíadas e o seu autor. Mas sem esquecer que eles não são propriedade exclusiva de Portugal. Assim como nos Estados Unidos ninguém pensa que Shakespeare não é “americano”, no Brasil ninguém pensa que Camões não seja “brasileiro”, porque é parte gloriosa da lingua portuguesa. Do mesmo modo, tenha-se sempre presente que é o valor universal de Camões e da sua obra o que mais importa celebrar, pôr em relevo e difundir. Mas, repita-se, a obra, de que Os Lusíadas são uma parte sem dúvida extremamente importante, mas não mais importante do que a obra lírica, nem separárvel dela: o homem que escreveu essa epopeia, e que nela constantemente se intromete, está inteiro, tragicamente inteiro, nas meditações dolorosas da obra lírica.

It was also António Cirurgião’s happy idea to suggest to the editor of Hispania, Irving P. Rothberg of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, that, as the single American journal devoted to scholarship and the teaching of Spanish and Portuguese in America, Hispania devote an issue to Camões on this occasion. One is happy to report that Rothberg agreed. But the idea had its formidable opponent. Having learned of the symposium proposed, along with the possibility that Hispania would commemorate Camões in the same year, Harvard University’s Professor Francis Rogers took it upon himself to issue a warming, in a letter to Rothberg. Here is its opening paragraph:

 

I am writing to express to you my views concerning “commemorations” in general and specifically the commemoration of the fourth centenary of the publication of the Lusiadas. I tend to place commemorations in general in the same hopper as honorary degrees and decorations from foreign governments. In principle, they are very nice, but they are fraught with hidden dangers. This is particularly true with a commemorative volume concerning the Lusiadas. I have a great deal of affection and respect for this poem and its author. Indeed, I have taught both for many years and directed one splendid thesis by a Brazilian Jesuit on the poetry of the poem. Unfortunately, down through the years, the Lusiadas has been used, or misused, as a prime document of political rhetoric. It has been misused in other ways as well. Thus, we have had studies on the fauna, the flora, nautical astronomy, law, and much else in the poem. Unfortunately, we have had very few studies of the poem as a poem, those few having been made by such people as Woodbury [sic], Ezra Pound and C. M. Bowra. I feel that a commemorative volume concerning the Lusiadas to appear in 1972 could well give rise to a plethora of studies concerning the poem which would have nothing to do with the poem as a poem. Some of the articles submitted would be written by individuals whom only the most callous of editorial boards could turn down. Theoretically, I believe a well edited commemorative volume is possible. In practice, in these years, I am doubtful.

 

Fortunately, Rogers’s ominous words did not dissuade Rothberg from his plan to commemorate Camões, and Hispania ultimately published a collection of five essays, contributed by distinguished scholars, in its May 1974 issue, in time to honor the four hundredth anniversary of the poet’s death. The essays are “Camões’ Shipwreck” (Gerald M. Moser, Pennsylvania State University), “Ancient History in Os Lusíadas” (Frank Pierce, University of Sheffield), “The Feminine Presence in Os Lusíadas” (Anson C. Piper, Williams College), “The Epic Similes of Os Lusíadas” (Roger Stephens Jones, Carleton University, Ottawa), and “Joaquim Nabuco e Camões” (C. Malcolm Batchelor, Yale University). (Piper and Pierce, it will be recalled, had also contributed papers to the 1972 special issue of Ocidente devoted to the conference on Camões at the University of Connecticut.) In his capacity as editor of Hispania, Irving P. Rothberg (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), wrote:

 

The year 1972 saw a number of impressive observances of the 400th anniversary of the publication of Luís de Camões’ Os Lusíadas, the greatest epic poem of the Renaissance. It is with pleasure that we now—somewhat after the fact—dedicate the present issue of Hispania not only to this enduring masterpiece but to the 450th anniversary of its poet’s birth who is generally believed to have been born in 1524. The editor’s deep thanks are offered to the authors of the articles that follow who obligingly wrote them at the editor’s request.

 

Aimed at a limited audience of specialists in Iberian literature, the essays on Camões in Hispania in 1974 nevertheless warrant further attention. Moser adduces accounts of shipwrecks in three contemporary letters to support his belief that Camões’s two references to shipwreck in Os Lusíadas are reliably autobiographical. Moser ends his piece: “In 1880, when as in 1972, the Portuguese-speaking countries celebrated Camões as the author of their national epic, Machado de Assis wrote a series of four sonnets for the
occasion.” Moser than quotes the last four lines of Machado’s sonnet—which, in its entirety. reads:

 

Um dia, junto à foz de brando e amigo
Rio de estranhas gentes habitado,
Pelos mares aspérrimos levado,
Salvaste o livro que viveu contigo.
E êsse que foi às ondas arrancado,
Já livre agora do mortal perigo,
Serve de arca imortal, de eterno abrigo,
Não só a ti, mas ao teu berço amado.
Assim, um homem só, naquele dia,
Naquele escasso ponto do universo,
Língua, história, nação, armas, poesia,
Salva das frias mãos do tempo adverso.
E tudo aquilo agora o desafia.
E tão sublime preço cabe em verso.

 

In “Ancient History in ‘Os Lusíadas,’” Frank Pierce, who would a few years later publish an excellent edition of Os Lusíadas, looks anew at Camões’s use of history as “subject-matter rather than style.” The “company of Alexander, Julius Caesar or Hannibal,” he decides “was an inevitable component of any attempt to write public poetry on one’s country and its past,” and Camões was no exception in this. Yet it is the Portuguese poet’s success in making the reader see the events of Vasco da Gama’s voyage “as something that is taking place before our eyes without any special narrator to interpret it for us” that gives the poem the “freshness and immediacy which set Os Lusíadas apart from most examples of the literary epic.”

Anson C. Piper’s subject is “The Feminine Presence in ‘Os Lusíadas.’” “A close study of the poem,” he writes, “furnishes ample evidence of the fact that the feminine presence which pervades Os Lusíadas constitutes one of the major literary and psychological motives of this highly sensuous Renaissance masterpiece.” For “the fact that he wrote under the powerful spell of Renaissance humanism required him to pay his courtier’s debt to the current concept of love as a highly formalized standard for measuring human conduct.” In short, Camões “strove in his poetry to join his humanistic learning to the chivalric ideal of perfect manhood ‘fused with female grace.’”

Camões’s use of epic smiles is Roger Stephens Jones’s subject. Distinguishing between Homeric similes, which support the celebration of “the grandeur of a warrior-hero,” and Virgilian similes, which help to define “the grandeur of a moral hero,” Jones decides that, on balance, Os Lusíadas is a Virgilian epic (.with Homeric elements)

 

[TO BE CONTINUED]

 

*George Monteiro is Adjunct Professor, Professor Emeritus of English and Portuguese and Brazilian Studies at Brown University (Providence, RI), USA

* “Commemorating Camões in the United States: Jorge de Sena’s Legacy,” in Os Descobrimentos Portugueses no Mundo de Língua Inglesa 1880-1972 / The Portuguese Discoveries in the English-Speaking World 1880-1972 , Lisboa, Colibri, 2006, pp. 219-48.