Positioned between the rise of Parnassianism and Symbolism in the last two decades of the nineteenth century and the drastic innovations of Modernism in 1922, the period from 1900 to 1922 brought no dramatic changes of direction to Brazilian poetry. This period, which many literary historians agree to label “pre-Modernism,” yielded more remarkable prose narratives – by Lima Barreto (1881–1922), Graca Aranha (1868–1931), Euclides da Cunha (1866–1909) – than poetry.
An absence of sustained quality in the works of poets who began writing in that period did not mean an absence of poetry. Much verse was in fact produced, read, and recited. Parnassianism (usually dated from 1882 with the publication of Fanfarras by Teófilo Dias (1857–1889)) and Symbolism (dated from 1893 with Broquéis and Missal by Cruz e Sousa (1861–1898)) continued into the new century. Major figures of established reputation were still alive and writing, such as the Parnassians Olavo Bilac (1865–1918), Raimundo Correia (1859–1911), Alberto de Oliveira (1857–1937), Vicente de Carvalho (1866–1924), and Francisca Julia (1874–1920), and the Symbolist Alphonsus de Guimaraens (1870–1921). The younger poets starting out in those styles – the so-called neo-Parnassians and neo-Symbolists – did so as contemporaries of their masters, sometimes under their auspices. Symbolism never set down roots as firmly as Parnassianism, and the reign of the latter was tenacious. Otto Maria Carpeaux reminds us that in Brazil the sequence of movements did not follow the European one, where Symbolism supplanted the earlier Parnassianism: “the two great poets of Brazilian Symbolism, Cruz e Sousa and Alphonsus, did not manage to prevail, succumbing to a hostile environment. Parnassianism, outliving itself, continued; and when it was in turn defeated, the victory belonged to Modernism . . .”