Love and the Brazilian Imaginary in National Fiction and Popular Cinema: From O Guaraní to As Melhores Coisas do Mundo


  • Michael Sawyer University of Central Missouri



identity formation, foundational literature, popular cinema


Brazil’s national and cultural self-conception arguably begins with, and was definitely impacted by, the Romantic fictional narratives of José de Alencar, most notably Iracema and O Guaraní. In establishing racial hybridity as a positive and uniquely Brazilian characteristic, Alencar appropriated that most universal of themes, love, as the vehicle by which the Brazilian culture was established and continues to define itself. More than one hundred and fifty years later, the pervasiveness of Alencar’s idea, as well as his subversive appropriation of distinctly foreign elements to declare a separate identity, is evident even in artistic narratives that do not explicitly examine questions of national identity. As Melhores Coisas do Mundo, a coming-of-age film set in modern-day São Paulo, illustrates the degree to which Alencar’s ideas continue to inform the most basic assumptions in individual and collective identity precisely because the movie’s narrative presents no conscious meditation on such issues.

            Keywords: identity formation, foundational literature, popular cinema

Author Biography

  • Michael Sawyer, University of Central Missouri

    Chair, Government, International Studies, and Languages

    Associate Professor of Spanish


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