Voices in war times: tracing the roots of lusophone literary journalism

Manuel João Coutinho, Mateus Yuri Passos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay takes a look at the works of four early literary journalists-Portuguese reporters Hermano Neves and Mário Neves, and Brazilian writers Visconde de Taunay and Euclides da Cunha-to trace the foundations of lusophone literary journalism, that is, reportage written primarily in the Portuguese language. Among the findings are that war reporting is not only a common topic in both traditions-as well as in the manifold traditions of literary journalism across the world-but that literary journalism in both Portugal and Brazil started with the subject of war, under several different perspectives-and, thus, that the shocking reality of the battlefield has played a role in the deeper humanization of journalism. The conditions of the wars that are covered vary deeply-a military uprising, a military campaign to suppress a civil uprising, a failed campaign in a frontier zone, and a major, multisided war. However, in all cases analyzed here there are clear social and political crises that have produced journalistic creativity and voice, reflecting a need to report in a more descriptive manner and with a more immersed-and immersive-approach. Most of the works analyzed in this study also had a major impact in the development of literary journalism in both Portugal and Brazil, and even as the reporting subjects changed from battlefields back into city life, the main interest in human drama has remained.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-63
Number of pages22
JournalLiterary Journalism Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Brazilian journalism
  • Literary journalism
  • Literary journalism and war
  • Portuguese journalism


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