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Utopia in Portugal, Brazil and Lusophone African Countries


Edited By Francisco Bethencourt

This book studies the history, literature and culture of Portuguese-speaking countries through the lens of utopia. The role of utopia in Portuguese literature is the object of fresh analyses ranging from Camões to Gonçalo M. Tavares, and António Vieira to José Saramago. The chapters on Angola and Mozambique show how national identity received a major boost through utopian literature – Pepetela is the anchor in the former case, while dance is used as a crucial metaphor to reveal the tension between the colonial and postcolonial gaze in the latter case. The visions of paradise in Tupi tradition and missionary doctrine inform the approach to Brazil, developed by the study of the utopian dimension of the revolts of Canudos and Contestado. Regional contrasts and the quest for Brazilian national identity underlie the chapter on the cinema of Glauber Rocha and Walter Salles. These political and cultural acts can be compared to the strange case of Sebastianism in Portugal, here studied across four centuries of adaptation and transformation. Anarchist, Communist and Catholic political projects are analysed in the context of the early twentieth century to complete this evaluation of the uses and effects of utopian visions in these countries.
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Utopia and History: Camões’ Os Lusíadas and Tavares’ Uma Viagem à Índia


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Utopia and History: Camoes’ Os Lusíadas and Tavares’ Uma Viagem à Índia

There is definitely a heterogeneous legacy in utopianism, recognized as such by many critics, which makes it hesitate between stability, or even rigidity, on the one hand, and transformation or process, on the other. The invention of symbolic (mostly literary) places that have served as the location of utopia itself, be they More’s Utopia (1516), Campanella’s The City of the Sun (1623), or George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1934), necessarily tends to the former (stability); whereas if utopia is primarily connected to a hoped for (or feared) future, it seems to underscore the latter (transformation), as for instance in the writing of António Vieira or Fernando Pessoa – as well as in the work of the great historian of utopia himself, Ernst Bloch.1 Fredric Jameson, another central critic of utopianism under its different guises, therefore distinguishes between utopias as a ‘programme’ and as an ‘impulse’.2 And he correctly underlines the different implications of these. Bloch himself is, I think, definitely more interested in the latter (the impulse) than the former (the programme). In fact, Bloch’s principle of hope, according to which utopia is essentially seen as a connection between the future and the present, an anticipatory form of realism, so to speak, highlights one of the main issues in utopian thought: the fact that it supposes a confrontation between (and therefore an awareness of) what is and what,...

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