The Lusiads Affect: Standing in the Middle of the Sea (Chapter in A Companion to World Literature: 1451 to 1770 The Emergence of Modernity)

In this chapter I begin by discussing the impact that Luís Vaz de Camões's epic masterwork, The Lusiads (Os Lusíadas, 1572), has had on the long epic tradition in Portugal and Brazil. After this, I present a brief account of the text's many translations and its subsequent entry into the broader stream of “world literature.” I then examine key approaches to the text, beginning with Manuel de Faria e Sousa's 1639 commentary, a study that has in many senses not been surpassed. I then turn to a focused problematization of readings that have approached the text as a “Western” epic of “Eastern” conquest.