Generation of 1870

Generation of 1870
   A generation of Portuguese writers and intellectuals and a postregeneration phase of the country's intellectual history in the last third of the 19th century. Many of them graduates of Coimbra University, these writers, whose work challenged conventional wisdom of their day, included J. Oliveira Martins, economist and social scientist; Eça de Queirós, novelist; Antero de Quental, poet; Ramalho Ortigão, editor and essayist; Teófilo Braga, literary historian; and the geographer and diplomat abroad, Jaime Batalha Reis. Coming of political age at the time of the Franco-Prussian War, the French Commune, and the French Third Republic (1870-71), these Portuguese intellectuals believed that economically weak Portugal had a polity and society in the grip of a pervasive decadence and inertia. They called for reform and renewal.
   Critical of romanticism, they were realists and neorealists and espoused the ideas of Karl Marx, Pierre Proudhon, and Auguste Comte. They called for revolution through the establishment of republicanism and socialism, and they were convinced that Portugal's backwardness and poverty were due primarily to the ancient influences of a weakened monarchy and the Catholic Church. This group of like-minded but also distinctive thinkers had an important impact on Portuguese letters and elite culture, but only a minor effect on contemporary politics and government.
   Like so many other movements in modern Portugal, the Generation of 1870's initiatives began as essentially a protest by university students of Coimbra, who confronted the status quo and sought to change their world by means of change and innovation in action and ideas. In certain respects, Portugal's Generation of 1870 resembled neighboring Spain's Generation of 1898, which began its "rebellion" in ideas following a disastrous foreign war (the Spanish-American War, 1898).

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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