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Song of Exile: A Cultural History of Brazil's Most Popular Poem, 1846–2018

Joshua Alma Enslen

Song of Exile: A Cultural History of Brazil’s Most Popular Poem, 1846–2018 is the first comprehensive study of the influence of Antônio Gonçalves Dias’s “Canção do exílio.” Written in Coimbra, Portugal, in 1843 by a homesick student longing for Brazil, “Song of Exile” has inspired thousands of parodies and pastiches, and new variations continue to appear to this day. Every generation of Brazilian writers has adapted the poem’s Romantic verses to glorify the wonders of the nation or to criticize it via parody, exposing a litany of issues that have plagued the country’s progress over theyears. Based on a core of five hundred texts painstakingly gathered over a five-year span, this book catalogs the networks of the poem’s reinvention as pastiche and parody in Brazilian print culture from nineteenth-century periodicals to new media. Mapping the reoccurrences of the original’s keywords and phrases over time, the book uncovers how the poem has been used by successive generations to write and rewrite the nation’s history. This process of reinvention has guaranteed the permanency of “Song of Exile” in Brazilian culture, making it not only the nation’s most popular poem, but one of the most imitated in the world.


“In this carefully crafted study, Joshua Enslen chronicles the allure and cultural impact of Brazil’s most iconic and imitated poem. Penned in Coimbra, Portugal, in 1843 by Brazilian Antônio Gonçalves Dias, “Song of Exile” inspired Brazilians to reimagine their nation’s landscape and history. References to it abound in popular culture and music. For nearly two centuries, the poem has been invoked by political regimes and actors, including protestors during Brazil’s 2018 presidential election. “Song of Exile” idealized Brazil as an Edenic garden and offered fertile ground for subsequent writers to imitate or challenge Gonçalves Dias’s utopic vision.

Using a mix of algorithmic analysis and close reading of 500 renditions of this poemor intertextspublished between 1847 and 2015, Enslen maps keywords and phrasings that reappear in those publications. This book gracefully illustrates how “Song of Exile” has served as a kind of connective tissue joining Brazil’s past with its present, and moments of disappointment with renewed optimism.”

Luciana Namorato, Associate Professor, Indiana Univeristy


Joshua Alma Enslen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages at West Point, where he teaches courses in Portuguese as a second language and in Brazilian literature and culture. He holds a PhD from the University of Georgia (2008) and a Post-Doctoral Certificate of Studies (2016) from the University of Coimbra’s Materialities of Literature program. His current research focuses on exploring, in visual and narrative modes, the intertextual influence of Gonçalves Dias’ “Canção do Exílio” (1843), one of the world’s most imitated poems. His works of data-driven art conveying the influence of Gonçalves Dias’ poem, and created in collaboration with visual artist Alaina Enslen, have been featured in solo exhibitions at the historic University of Coimbra’s Museum of Science (2016), later nominated for an APOM 2017, at FOLIO 2016 (Óbidos) and at U Lisbon’s Caleidoscópio (2017). Apart from his book on the influence of “Song of Exile,” he has published numerous essays on varied topics in Brazilian literature and culture in academic journals such as the Luso-Brazilian Review, Hispania and Portuguese Literary & Cultural Studies


PSRL 84. Paper. $45.00. e-Book available.


Page last updated on 25 March 2022.

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