"The Lusiads Effect: a Tension towards Imperialism or Cosmopolitanism?"

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


In 1998, philosopher Fernando Gil and literature scholar Helder Macedo published an important reflection on the themes of retrospection, vision and prophecy in the Portuguese Renaissance. Viagens do Olhar [translated into English as The Travelling Eye] takes into account some of the most remarkable literary works of this period of Portugal’s history as they had a role in the genesis of the crisis of the European Consciousness in the turning of the XVII Century to the Century of Enlightenment, thus creating original conditions for a renewal of the modern cosmopolitan aspirations. By letting the figures of the foreigners, the strangers and the strange into the artistic and literary representations of the Old Continent, these literary works have largely contributed to the possibility of a changing of perspective and of a questioning of dogmas, certitudes and beliefs taken for granted before the encountering of these “Others” and “New horizons” because of which Europe's conceptions of the world would never be the same. Among the several readings and analyses undertook in their work, we wish to focus on what Fernando Gil calls the “Lusiads effect” as it abbreviates two contradictory inspirations that traverse Camoens’ epic. Indeed, Gil’s analyses shows there is a permanent and insoluble tension between the inspiration of the voyage and the wish for a renewed national foundation: the first tends toward cosmopolitanism, and the second towards imperialism. Although The Lusiads sometimes produce the illusion of their coherent unity by means of artificial justifications and ideological misfortunes, foundation and voyage never complete each other in a unique poetic evidence, because they do not stem from the same desire.
Period18 May 2022
Event titleCosmoliteratures: Thinking Cosmopolitanism and Literature
Event typeConference
LocationLisbon, PortugalShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Cosmopolitanism
  • LIterature
  • Identity
  • Voyage
  • Foundation
  • Imperialism