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Antero de Quental, the Coimbrã years - 1858-1865 Eldridge, Claire A. Z.


The theme of the essay is the evolution of Antero de Quental from the childhood years in the sleepy island of São Miguel, Azores, up to the famous controversy called the Questão Coimbrã in which Antero played a major part. The first chapter depicts the circumstances of Antero's childhood: the liberalism of his "morgado" grandfather, father and brother, the strong religious feelings of his mother, the high status of the families on both sides. It discusses the impact of A. F. de Castilho and his Sociedade dos Amigos das Letras e Artes on Antero's island world, and the influence of Alexandre Herculano's mystic ode, "Deus". It covers the early schooling years up to the departure for serious education on the continent. The second chapter deals with Antero's arrival in Coimbra, his disappointment and frustration at the complacency of his professors, and the revolutionary impact of his reading of Henriques de Nogueira, Lamartine, Michelet, Proudhon, etc… It introduces Antero's friends. It follows the development of the poet up to the publication of the "Sonetos" (1861), under the influence of João de Deus: religious, mystic, intimate poetry inspired by their mutual admiration of Camões. In chapter III, we examine the evolution of Antero's social conscience. In his definition of art, he accepted the concept of art as corresponding to beauty but, convinced that poetry is also an expression of man's moral conscience and an agent for social reform, he wrote a collection of militant verse, his "Odes Modernas" (mostly 1862-1863), published for the first time in 1865.

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