Ranking of Portuguese literature by difficulty

We have analysed Portuguese texts in terms of the difficulty of the vocabulary and grammar, and provide you a ranking (as well as detailed information about each work). We hope this can help you pick the right Portuguese title to read! Choose the category of Portuguese literature you are interested in to see the ranking:

Why choose? Well, to make our rankings a bit more balanced, we decided to split those into two: short texts / poems and books. We figured, just like in English, there is simply no fair way to compare the complexity of something like Emily Dickinson's 'I reason, earth is short' with F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby', and so there shouldn't be such a comparison in Portuguese.

About our literary rankings

Once you choose, you will see a ranking of all the works we have analysed in terms of both grammar and vocabulary - and you will also be able to click on any particular title to see its full extensive analysis. You will also be able to click on the ranking table and re-arrange the works based on the criteria you prefer. Go to our tool's main page (or the page of any work) to learn more about the algorithms we use.

About Portuguese literature

Portuguese literature has a deep history, dating as far back as to the 12th century and to the movement called trovadorismo. Various songbooks (called concioneiros) were compiled. This helped solidify the local vernacular into a language called Portuguese, which was also officially declared as such by King Denis, who also happened to be one of the most famous troubadours in the penninsula.

The development of Portuguese literature is also largely characterised by its so-called 'Golden Age', which occurred at the 14th-15th centuries (largely coinciding with the Renaissance). The epic poet Luís Vaz de Camões is perhaps the most well-known author of this period, as well as his national epic poem Os Lusíadas - a fantastical interpretation of the Portuguese voyages of discovery during the 15th-16th centuries, written in Homeric style in 1572 after Camões had returned from his voyage in the Indies.

Historical work Os Lusiadas by the Portuguese author Luís Vaz de Camões.

Other authors are also notable from the Golden Age: Bernardim Ribeiro (known for his famous work Saudades, better known outside as Menina e Moça), Gil Vicente (who is known as a playright who wrote, directed and in his own plays), and others.

The Golden Age lasted until the 17th century, when Baroque took over, and the period was considered a decline period in Portuguese literature. At the same time, religious writing started playing an even more important role. Authors like António Vieira (a Portuguese Jesuit philosopher) or Francisco Rodrigues Lobo (who wrote eclogues and prose pastorals in Portuguese) were known in that period.

Afterwards, a neoclassical period followed, in the XIXth century, and as commonplace in Europe at that time, Romanticism took hold. Names associated iwith this period are Almeida Garrett (who is considered to have introduced Romanticism into Portugal), Alexandre Herculano de Carvalho e Araújo (a very prolific writer who composed in lots of different genres), and Camilo Castelo Branco (also a very prolific author, who wrote over 250 books (!) in his lifetime - and is also known for combining Romanticism with largely sarcastic overtones). At the same time, realism, started developing, which started changing the style of Portuguese literature.

Not less importantly, these periods also marks the growth of Brazilian literature. Perhaps the most famous of Brazilian writers was Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, whose work O Alienista we have translated in Interlinear. Machado de Assis was a self-taught writer, who did not have formal education, but, as typesetter at a publishing house, read lots of books, learned foreign languages, and wrote some true masterpieces of Portuguese literature, characterised by a sense of pessimism and sarcasm, a negative attitude toward social convention, and a mastery of prosaic style.

The early twentieth century Portuguese literature has had another very famous writer: Fernando Pessoa. Pessoa was a poet who also wrote short stories and novellas, and is also known for having come up with seventy-five distinct literality personalities, under which he wrote his work.

Modern Portuguese literature has been characterised by multiple authors and styles. While names like António Lobo Antunes, José Saramago, Rubem Fonseca or Sérgio Sant'Anna are often proposed as representatives of this period, there are multiple other wonderful Brazilian and Portuguese authors, celebrating the new age of Portuguese literature.

Other resources and languages

We suggest you also check out our literature discovery tool in languages other than Portuguese. You can do so here:

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Moreover, if you are interested in languages and literature - please have a look at our main website Interlinear Books - it will hopefully be of interest to you!