José de Alencar

José Martiniano de Alencar (May 1, 1829 – December 12, 1877) was a Brazilian lawyer, politician, orator, novelist and dramatist. He is considered to be one of the most famous and influential Brazilian Romantic novelists of the 19th century, and a major exponent of the literary tradition known as "Indianism". Sometimes he signed his works with the pen name Erasmo.

He was patron of the 23rd chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.

José de Alencar
José de Alencar, c. 1870
José de Alencar, c. 1870
BornJosé Martiniano de Alencar
May 1, 1829
Fortaleza, Empire of Brazil
DiedDecember 12, 1877 (aged 48)
Rio de Janeiro, Empire of Brazil
Pen nameErasmo
OccupationLawyer, politician, orator, novelist, dramatist
Alma materUniversity of São Paulo
Literary movementRomanticism
Notable worksO Guarani, Senhora, Lucíola, Iracema, Ubirajara
SpouseGeorgina Augusta Cochrane
ChildrenAugusto de Alencar, Mário de Alencar
RelativesJosé Martiniano Pereira de Alencar, Leonel Martiniano de Alencar


Casa José de Alencar (by Tom Junior)
The house where José de Alencar was born and lived in until 1844, in the Messejana neighborhood, in Fortaleza

José Martiniano de Alencar was born in Messejana, Fortaleza, Ceará, on May 1, 1829, to politician José Martiniano Pereira de Alencar and his cousin Ana Josefina de Alencar. His family was a rich and influential clan in Northeastern Brazil, his grandmother being famous landowner Barbara Pereira de Alencar, heroine of the Pernambucan Revolution. Moving to São Paulo in 1844, he graduated in Law at the Faculdade de Direito da Universidade de São Paulo in 1850 and started his career in law in Rio de Janeiro. Invited by his friend Francisco Otaviano, he became a collaborator for the journal Correio Mercantil. He also wrote many chronicles for the Diário do Rio de Janeiro and the Jornal do Commercio. Alencar would compile all the chronicles he wrote for these newspapers in 1874, under the name Ao Correr da Pena.

It was in the Diário do Rio de Janeiro, during the year of 1856, that Alencar gained notoriety, writing the Cartas sobre A Confederação dos Tamoios, under the pseudonym Ig. In them, he bitterly criticized the homonymous poem by Gonçalves de Magalhães. Even the Brazilian Emperor Pedro II, who esteemed Magalhães very much, participated in this polemic, albeit under a pseudonym. Also in 1856, he wrote and published under feuilleton form his first romance, Cinco Minutos, that received critical acclaim. In the following year, his breakthrough novel, O Guarani, was released; it would be adapted into a famous opera by Brazilian composer Antônio Carlos Gomes 13 years later. O Guarani would be first novel of what is informally called Alencar's "Indianist Trilogy" – a series of three novels by Alencar that focused on the foundations of the Brazilian nation, and on its indigenous peoples and culture. The other two novels, Iracema and Ubirajara, would be published on 1865 and 1874, respectively. Although called a trilogy, the three books are unrelated in its plots.

Alencar was affiliated with the Conservative Party of Brazil, being elected as a general deputy for Ceará. He was the Brazilian Minister of Justice from 1868 to 1870, having famously opposed the abolition of slavery.[1] He also planned to be a senator, but Pedro II never appointed him, under the pretext of Alencar being too young;[2] with his feelings hurt, he would abandon politics later.

He was very close friends with the also famous writer Machado de Assis, who wrote an article in 1866 praising his novel Iracema, that was published the year before, comparing his Indianist works to Gonçalves Dias, saying that "Alencar was in prose what Dias was in poetry". When Assis founded the Brazilian Academy of Letters in 1897, he chose Alencar as the patron of his chair.

Monumento a José de Alencar
Monument to José de Alencar in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In 1864 he married Georgina Augusta Cochrane, daughter of an eccentric British aristocrat. They would have six children – Augusto (who would be the Brazilian Minister of External Relations in 1919, and also the Brazilian ambassador on the United States from 1920 to 1924), Clarisse, Ceci, Elisa, Mário (who would be a journalist and writer, and a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters) and Adélia. (It is implied that Mário de Alencar was actually an illegitimate son of Machado de Assis, a fact that inspired Assis to write his famous novel Dom Casmurro.[3])

Alencar died in Rio de Janeiro in 1877, a victim of tuberculosis. A theatre in Fortaleza, the Theatro José de Alencar, was named after him.



Theatre plays

  • O Crédito (1857)
  • Verso e Reverso (1857)
  • O Demônio Familiar (1857)
  • As Asas de um Anjo (1858)
  • Mãe (1860)
  • A Expiação (1867)
  • O Jesuíta (1875)


  • Ao Correr da Pena (1874)


  • Como e Por Que sou Romancista (1873)

Critics and polemics

  • Cartas sobre A Confederação dos Tamoios (1856)
  • Cartas Políticas de Erasmo (18651866)
  • O Sistema Representativo (1866)


  1. ^
  2. ^ RODRIGUES, Antonio Edmilson Martins; FALCON, Francisco José Calazans. José de Alencar: O Poeta Armado do Século XIX. [S.l.]: FGV Editora, 2001.
  3. ^ Mário de Alencar: Machado de Assis' son? (in Portuguese)

External links

Preceded by
New creation
Brazilian Academy of LettersPatron of the 23rd chair
Succeeded by
Machado de Assis (founder)
A guerra dos mascates

A guerra dos mascates is a novel written by the Brazillan writer José de Alencar. It is a historical novel set during the war of the same name which occurred in Pernambuco from 1710-1711. The novel, written in 1870 after the author's disillusionment with politics, was published in two volumes: the first in 1873, the second in 1874. Alencar included several notes to the reader in these volumes. In all he warns against the temptation of readers to "see contemporary characters disguised in the figures of the last century."

A pata da gazela

A pata da gazela is a novel written by the Brazilian writer José de Alencar. It was first published in 1870.

A viuvinha

A viuvinha (The Little Widow) is a novel written by the Brazilian writer José de Alencar. It was first published in 1857. Luis de Barros adapted it into a film in 1914.In the story, a young Brazilian man plans to marry a young woman he met in a church. On the day before the wedding, however, he learns that he has squandered his inheritance and let the company he owns go bankrupt. The man follows through with the ceremony, but then fakes suicide and flees to the United States. He lives in the United States for three years, slowly recovering his fortune, then returns to Brazil to reunite with his bride, who has remained faithful to him.


Alfarrábios is a historical novel by the Brazilian writer José de Alencar, first published in 1873. It is composed of three minor narratives: "O Garatuja", "O Ermitão da Glória" and "Alma de Lázaro".

As minas de prata

As minas de prata (Portuguese: The silver mines) is a novel written by Brazilian writer José de Alencar. The first part was published in 1865, and in 1866, the second part.

Diva (José de Alencar novel)

Diva is a novel written by the Brazilian writer José de Alencar. It was first published in 1864.

Emilia is a rich and cultured girl that, with a hint of cruelty, enjoys the courtship of young men, but makes them suffer for that. In this love story between Augusto and the divine - but fatal - Emilia, portrays the world of conventions and human relationships based on convenience.

There is strong evidence that the society girl Francisca Vale Calmon Nogueira da Gama was the model for Emilia, the almost-unattainable diva in Jose Alencar's third work of fiction. He courted the girl, but being rejected during a waltz, left the halls to never bespeak Francisca again. She ended up travelling to Europe and marrying a nobleman. As a result, in 1864, it came to light another of his reflections on the female personality. And, in the novel, Alencar immortalized his lost love's black eyes. Emilia is a rich girl, well-educated and aware of her seducing powers. Likes to win the boys and then reject them. Augustus, the narrator, is one of them.

Encarnação (novel)

Encarnação is a novel written by the Brazilian writer José de Alencar. It was first published in 1893.

Five Minutes (novel)

Five Minutes (Portuguese: Cinco Minutos) is the debut novel by Brazilian writer José de Alencar. It was initially published under feuilleton form at the journal Diário do Rio de Janeiro in 1856, being so popular that it was re-released under hardcover form a few years later.


Iracema (in Portuguese: Iracema - A Lenda do Ceará) is one of the three indigenous novels by José de Alencar. It was first published in 1865. The novel has been adapted into several films.


Lucíola is an urban fiction novel written by the Brazilian writer José de Alencar. It was first published in 1862. It treats mainly of the late-nineteenth century Rio de Janeiro society, exploring its deficient morality.

This novel is said to be influenced by Alexandre Dumas' novel The Lady of the Camellias.

O gaúcho

O gaúcho is a novel written by the Brazilian writer José de Alencar. It was first published in 1870.

O sertanejo

O sertanejo (English: The backcountry) is a novel written by the Brazilian writer José de Alencar. It was first published in 1875.


The Potiguara (also Potyguara or Pitiguara) are an indigenous people of Brazil. The Potiguara live in the state of Paraíba, in the municipalities of Marcação, Baía da Traição and Rio Tinto. Their population is 12,000 individuals and they occupy 26 villages in 3 reservations (Terras Indígenas): Potiguara, Jacaré de São Domingos e Potiguara de Monte-Mor. Their name, Potiguara, means "shrimp-eaters", from poty, "shrimp", and uara, "eater", according to Brazilian writer José de Alencar.

Senhora (novel)

Senhora is a novel written by the Brazilian writer José de Alencar. It was first published in 1875, two years before the author's death. It was the third book by the author about the position of women in Brazil's 19th century Rio de Janeiro society (the other two being Diva and Lucíola), published under the pseudonym G.M.

Sonhos d'ouro

Sonhos d'ouro is a novel written by the Brazilian writer José de Alencar. It was first published in 1872.

Theatro José de Alencar

The Theatro José de Alencar is a Brazilian theater located in the city of Fortaleza, Ceará.

Til (novel)

Til is a novel written by the Brazilian writer José de Alencar. It was first published in 1872.

Ubirajara (novel)

Ubirajara is one of the indigenous novels by José de Alencar. It was first published in 1874. This name means lord of spear or lancer in English, from ubira - spear, e jara - lord; it accorded José de Alencar.

Ubirajara (the companion to Iracema) A Legend Of The Tupy Indians by Jose De Alencar was translated from the Portuguese into English verse by J.T.W. Sadler, M.A. early 20th century.

Published by Ronald Massey, 108, Victoria Street, S.W. 1.

Novels by José de Alencar
Patrons and members of the Brazilian Academy of Letters
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