Brazil has long been a country in search of its own meaning and mission. Early in their history Brazilians began to puzzle over their surroundings and their relation to them. The eighteenth century produced an entire school of nativistic writers who, with the advent of independence, became fiery nationalists, still pursuing introspective studies of their homeland. Throughout the nineteenth century, the intellectuals of Brazil determined to define their nation, its character, and its aspirations.
In this now well-established tradition, José Honório Rodrigues confronts the questions of who and what the Brazilian is, what Brazil stands for, where it has been, and where it is going. This study, originally published in Portuguese as Aspirações nacionais, was especially timely at a period when strong feelings of nationalism led Brazilians to seek to define their own image, and when the revolution of rising expectations disposed them to determine what goals they were seeking and how far they were on the road to achieving them.
In order to understand and explain his nation, Rodrigues poses two questions: what are the national characteristics, and what are the national aspirations? Both questions are complex, but the reader will find well-reasoned answers, with a wealth of information on growth and development and abundant statistics to substantiate these answers.