Alencar Jose De is a novelist from Brazil. (May 1, 1829-December 12, 1877), born in Messejana, near Fortaleza-Ceara, in the northeast part of rural area of Brazil. He belonged to a political family, his father Jose Martiniano de Aalencar was an important senator. He did his Law and moved to Rio de Janeiro. He worked for newspapers Correio Mercantil and Diario do Rio de Janeiro. Knowledge of Law, with background of politics in the family and practical experience in the field of journalism make a perfect combination for an ambitious, independent-thinking individual.
His interaction with other important contemporary Brazilian writers like Machado de Assis and Joaquim Manuel de Macedo, sharpened his writing skills. He got his reward for that-most of the fearless writers do get it-he was not allowed to publish his articles, by those who controlled the newspaper Correio. Some of his friends bought the other newspaper, in which his writings saw the light of the day. He got nationwide fame for his work, O Guarani(1857). The writing under discussion, Iracema, was published in the year 1865. Initially it was propouned by theWestern Historians that Brazil had no past.
That was also the view of the descendants of European immigrants. It was perhaps the delibeately planted and propagated viewpoint to demoralize and destroy the native identity. With the creation of a unique dress code, the native dressed like his European counterpart, like the medieval knight. The basic tropical vaues remained inact. But European manners came to be adopted. Alencar possessed all such qualities to make him a firebrand nationalist. Paper and pen were his insruments. His gala plan was to make Brazil independent in core areas to start with.
He knew the power of language as the building force of nationhood. He advocated use of a truly national language; this was challenged by those who used Portuguese language in Brazil. His tough stand and uncompromising attitude on the issue made him cross swords with his staunch opponents over this and other elated issues. Antonio Gonsalves Dias and Joaquim Nabuco were prominent among them. He had political success at the young age of 31, when he entered the senate as a delegate from Rio de Janeiro to Brazil’s congress. Emperor Pedro II, summoned him as a minister in 1877.
But his serious health problems, tuberculosis, stumped him. He succumbed to the disease in the same year at a comparatively young age of 48. That he used many pseudonyms like Senio, AC,G. M, J. de Al, Erasmo, Job, Ig,Um Asno, Serio on his published articles is indicative of the compulsion of the circumstances, perhaps the tough opposion he had to encounter for his uncompromising nationalistic views. An evidence of sincerity in his feelings and thought could be seen in his novel Iracema. It also has richness and beauty. All these combined, would give an effect which would be electric.
Instead of beating about the bush, Alencar knew how to light a fire. He had the capacity to make one feel, experience and mould the mental make up. As a politician, his excellent oratory was his great asset to impress and influence his audience. So what he said in Iracema was not only poetic but masterly. When Iracema elopes deserting her tribal identity, he creates a moment of supreme emotion in the novel. What will happen next? —is every reader’s question. His pursuit of perfect interracial harmony is nothing short of a spiritual goal-all humanity is part of God!
His writing therefore, left a marked influence on the people of his era and the geneations thereafter. He made sincere afforts to open the eyes of great many and broaden their hearts. He tried to establish the golden relations between the tribal Brazil and the Portuguese. He tried to define in a new form, the whoe scope of Brazalian consciousness and gave birth to entirely novel ideas of national life. He could clearly forsee the begnning nof a new order in Brazil. To him lierature was life, not mere thought. It had to be lived. From literary heights to nationalistic creed—it was one sraight jump.
His writing was instant fire and admirable faith. Iracema has purpose and it is mainly his flagship vehicle for the propaganda of his great mission in life-to creae a new national identity for Brazil. This he did with the zeal of a philosopher, but at the same time he was a story-teller, a parable-writer and a poet of the highest order. Alencar’s writing in Iracema get permanent literary value because of their intrinsic quality, lucidity of thought, noblity of diction, for the inspiration they giv e and the aspiration they create.
The ultimate value of literature is not to be measured merely by what a poet or a novelist says or potrays or by the imageries he weaves but by what he helps others to become, in the moral idealistic sense. Poetry, even when it is dominated by intellectual tendency and motive, cannot relly live and work by intellect alone; it is not creted nor wholly shaped by reason or judgement, but is an inuttive seeing and inspired hearing—that is what Alenca’s Iracema is ! Therefore, the question arises, “to what extent Jose de Alencar’s novel helped to evolve a national consciousness among the Brazilian people?
” The Plot-Iracema: It is the same old story through the ages—it is between HIM and HER. The tormenting flutter of the wings of the caged bird of love! The novel is hailed as an indigenous novel, for its description of earthly, stark reality prevailing at that time. The story is about the intimate relationship between Tabajara, the local tribal (Iracema) and the Portuguese army man Martim. Martin was allied with the enemies of Tabajara. The novel dwells on the relationship of these two individuals, and Alencar makes the sincere effort to remake the history of Ceara Orgins, which is a State of Brazil.
The interracial ‘product’, Moacir is supposed to be the first genuine Brazilian in Ceara. In him, one is supposed to find the love of the natural innocence, Iracema, and knowledge and culture of Martim. The title is in Guarani language for honey-lips, from ira – honey, and tembe – lips. Tembe changed to ceme, as in the word ceme iba, according to the author. The novel, through its various characters, makes an effort to elucidate the evolution of the Brazilian cultural and ethnical heritage. Iracema is but the symbol as to how the first meeting between he Europeans and the natives took place.
Its implications and the resultant consequences! In the present context, Iracema is an anagram referring to America. Theories about Jose De Alencar: With brandishing swords and booming guns, one can conquer the territories but not the human hearts. This is the historical truth. The human history, full of blood-soaked pages, asks a crying question. How to make this violence-filled land calm and beautiful? The answer is simple and direct. Eyes full of understanding, hearts full of love and the life refusing conflicts-that’s enough!
When the explorers arrived at new frontiers, they did not come with the message of love. Their initial contacts were full of conflicts and unimaginable bloodshed to establish authority. The color of the skin only added to the fury of the conflict. The white-skinned were convinced about their superiority and they thought they were born to govern and boss over. Portuguese explorers, who arrived at the Brazilian frontiers, were no exception. Literary works like Iracema were not created to glorify the process of racial amalgamation of the whites and the non-whites.
Interracial marriages were an exception to the rule, and got appreciation from the right-thinking minority among both the blacks and whites. The rare examples of idealism did not depict the actual state of affairs prevailing in the society. It was within this boiling oven of socio-cultural conflict, Romantic writers like Jose de Alencar, through his work Iracema, tried to picture problematic relationship and its uncertain and tragic outcome. Did such romantic interludes help to solve the problems of a conflict-ridden society?
They did offer the psychological solace, but such relationships did not help to find a permanent solution to the vexed problem. Neither did they help the cause of nation-building. Crossover historical romances between white and Indian lovers did produce good literary works from the pen of genius writers, they did entertain and appealed to the emotions of the intelligentsia and the common man, but they have never in the past, in any part of the world, in any era, offer a permanent solution to the basic problems.
Iracema is no exception. It did not help to create Brazilian ness and put the seal of approval for interracial love. It produced positive vibrations in the minds of the reader for a short duration, and its effect was just like the cool, consoling breeze, that comes and blows over. Literary charm and ground realities are poles apart. So, the racially inverted couple Martim and his Indian princess Iracema –the effect of their relationship on the society was comparable to that of viewing a rare painting!