Realism in Brazil: characteristics, authors and works

O Realism it was a movementartistic from the end 19th century which opposed the previous style, the Romanticism. In Brazil, this style had as its starting point the publication of the novel The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas, inMachado de Assis.

A literary current that dialogues with Realism is the Naturalism, which portrays, in general, the life of the populationmorepoor. In Portugal, Antero de Quental and Eça de Queiroz were the main realist writers. In France, stood out Gustave Flaubert, which is considered the father of European Realism.


Realism in Brazilian literature has some fundamental characteristics, including:

  • Objectivity: Unlike the romantics, who exalted subjectivity as the ideal focus for literature, the realists sought the greatest possible objectivity, that is, while the writers of romanticism represented the world from points of view ultra-sentimental or very personal, the realist authors sought to portray reality as it is was, with the less personal influence possible.
  • reviewSocial: One of the marks of Realism is the representation of hypocrisiessocial so wide open. Here, too, the movement differs from Romanticism, which sought to exalt the bourgeois lifestyle. Realism, in opposition, criticizes the contradictions and moralisms of the bourgeois elite.
  • Irony as a rhetorical brand: Especially in the work of Machado de Assis, it is possible to see a clear trace of irony in descriptions and narratives. In general, this figure of rhetoric exposes criticism several to the groupSocial represented in the narrative.
  • Focus on psychological descriptions: Brazilian realism portrayed not only the external part of Brazilian society at the end of the 19th century, but also represented a exceptional description of the values ​​and thinking of the narrated characters. Note, for example, how the eyes of the character Capitu, one of the great characters in the work “Dom Casmurro”, by Machado de Assis, are described:

Valentine's rhetoric, gives me an exact and poetic comparison to say what those eyes of Capitu were like. I don't have an image capable of saying, without breaking the dignity of the style, what they were and did to me. Hangover eyes? Come on, hangover. That's what gives me the idea of ​​that new look. They brought I don't know what mysterious and energetic fluid, a force that dragged inwards, like the wave that withdraws from the beach, on days of hangover. In order not to be dragged, I clung to the other parts nearby, to my ears, to my arms, to the hair spread over my shoulders; but so quickly I sought the pupils, the wave that came out of them was growing, hollow and dark, threatening to envelop me, pull me in and engulf me.

Dom Casmurro", Machado de Assis

When describing Capitu's eyes, the narrator makes use of the expression “eyes with a hangover”, as being “a force that dragged inwards, like the wave that withdraws from the beach, on days of surf”. In this way, the character is given a ballpsychological not only deep, like the ocean, but also extremely attractive, like the waves in the underwater sea.

Read too: Did Capitu betray Bentinho? – Dom Casmurro's Controversies


Generally speaking, it is possible to say that Realism was influenced by the new theoriesscientific that appeared at the time, namely:

  • Positivism, by Comte;
  • Communism, by Marx and Engels;
  • Evolutionism, by Darwin;
  • Determinism, by Taine.

As Brazilian Realism is posterior to European Realism, it is also plausible to say that the authors of Realism from the old continent greatly influenced the movement in Brazil. Among them, it is worth mentioning GustaveFlaubert, father of Realism in literature, and honoreinBalzac, both from France. In addition to these, the Portuguese writers AnteroinQuental and HeyinQueiroz they also greatly contributed to the formation of Realism in Brazil.

Also access: Read about the five most important chroniclers of Brazilian literature

realism vs naturalism

A literary current that dialogues with the values ​​of Realism is the Naturalism. Like the first, this strand seeks to objectively focus on reality. However, it is remarkable that, in the narrativesnaturalists, there is a representation of layersmorepoor of society - the novels the mulatto (which even inaugurates Naturalism in Brazil) and the tenement, in Aluisio Azevedo, for example, depict a population yet slaveor remnant of slavery. Furthermore, in Naturalism, there was the clearest presence of the influence of nineteenth-century scientific theories.

See too: Meet the romantic author who suffered realistic influences

Authors and works

Machado de Assis he was the main author of Brazilian Realism. His main works are:

  • Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas (1881)
  • Single Papers (1882)
  • Quincas Borba (1891)
  • Several Stories (1896)
  • Dom Casmurro (1899)
  • Esau and Jacob (1904)
  • Relics of the Old House (1906)
  • Memorial de Aires (1908)

By M. Fernando Marinho

Source: Brazil School -
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