The Portuguese language was developed gradually from the lingua rustica spoken in the countries which formed part of the Roman Empire and, both in morphology and syntax, it represents an organic transformation of Latin without the direct intervention of any foreign tongue. The sounds, grammatical forms, and syntactical types, with a few exceptions, are derived from Latin, but the vocabulary has absorbed a number of Germanic and Arabic words, and a few have Celtic or Iberian origin. Before the close of the middle ages the language threatened to become almost as abbreviated as French, but learned writers, in their passion for antiquity, re-approximated the vocabulary to Latin. The Renaissance commenced a separation between literary men and the people, between the written and spoken tongue, which with some exceptions lasted until the beginning of the nineteenth century. Then the Romanticists went back to tradition and drew on the poetry and every day speech of the people, and, thanks to the writings of such men as Almeida-Garrett and Camillo Castello Branco, the literary language became national once again.
An indigenous popular poetry existed at the beginning of Portuguese history, but the first literary activity came from Provence. It was quickened by the accession of King Alfonso III, who had been educated in France, and the productions of his time are preserved in the "Cancioneiro de Ajuda", the oldest collection of peninsular verse. But the most brilliant period of Court poetry, represented in the "Cancioneiro da Vaticana", coincided with the reign of King Denis, a cultivated man, who welcomed singers from all parts and himself wrote a large number of erotic songs, charming ballads, and pastorals. This thirteenth century Court poetry, which deals mainly with love and satire, is usually copied from Provencal models and conventional, but, where it has a popular form and origin, it gains in sincerity what it loses in culture. By the middle of the fourteenth century troubadour verse was practically dead, but the names of some few bards have survived, among them Vasco Peres de Camoens, ancestor of the great epic poet, and Macias "the enamoured". Meanwhile the people were elaborating a ballad poetry of their own, the body of which is known as the Romanceiro . It consists of lyrico-narrative poems treating of war, chivalry, adventure, religious legends, and the sea, many of which have great beauty and contain traces of the varied civilizations which have existed in the peninsula. When the Court poets had exhausted the artifices of Provencal lyricism, they imitated the poetry of the people, giving it a certain vogue which lasted until the Classical Renaissance . It was then thrust into the background, and though cultivated by a few, it remained unknown to men of letters until the nineteenth century, when Almeida-Garrett began his literary revival and collected folk poems from the mouths of the peasantry.
Prose developed later than verse and first appeared in the fourteenth century in the shape of short chronicles, lives of saints, and genealogical treatises called "Livros de Linhagens". Portugal did not elaborate her own chansones de gestes , but gave prose form to foreign medieval poems of romantic adventure; for example, the "History of the Holy Grail" and "Amadis of Gaul". The first three books of the latter probably received their present shape from João Lobeira, a troubadour of the end of the thirteenth century, though this original has been lost and only the Spanish version remains. The "Book of Aesop" also belongs to this period. Though the cultivated taste of the Renaissance affected to despise the medieval stories, it adopted them with alterations as a homage to classical antiquity. Hence came the cycle of the "Palmerins" and the "Chronica do Emperador Clarimundo" of João de Barros. The medieval romance of chivalry gave place to the pastoral novel, the first example of which is the "Saudades" of Bernardim Ribeiro, followed by the "Diana" of Jorge de Montemôr, which had a numerous progeny. Later in the sixteenth century Goncalo Fernandes Trancoso, a fascinating storyteller, produced his "Historias de Proveito e Exemplo".
A new epoch in literature dates from the Revolution of 1383-5. King John wrote a book of the chase, his sons, King Duarte and D. Pedro, composed moral treatises, and an anonymous scribe told with charming naivete the story of the heroic Nuno Alvares Pereira in the "Chronica do Condestavel". The line of the chroniclers which is one of the boasts of Portuguese literature began with Fernão Lopes, who compiled the chronicles of the reigns of Kings Pedro, Fernando, and John I. He combined a passion for accurate statement with a especial talent for descriptive writing and portraiture, and with him a new epoch dawns. Azurara, who succeeded him in the post of official chronicler, and wrote the "Chronicle of Guinea" and chronicles of the African wars, is an equally reliable historian, whose style is marred by pedantry and moralizing. His successor, Ruy de Pina, avoids these defects and, though not an artist like Lopes, gives a useful record of the reigns of Kings Duarte, Alfonso V, and John II. His history of the latter monarch was appropriated by the poet Garcia da Resende, who adorned it, adding many anecdotes he had learned during his intimacy with John, and issued it under his own name.B. Poetry
The introduction of Italian poetry, especially that of Petrarch, into the peninsula led to a revival of Spanish verse which, owing to the superiority of its cultivators, dominated Portugal throughout the fifteenth century. Constable Dom Pedro, friend of Marquis de Santillana, wrote almost entirely in Castilian and is the first representative of the Spanish influence imported from Italy the love of allegory and reverence for classical antiquity. The court poetry of some three hundred knights and gentlemen of the time of Alfonso V and John II is contained in the "Cancioneiro Geral", compiled by Resende and inspired by Juan de Mena , Jorge Manrique, and other Spaniards. The subjects of these mostly artificial verses are love and satire. Among the few that reveal special talent and genuine poetical feeling are Resende's lines on the death of D. Ignez de Castro, the "Fingimento de Amores" of Diogo Brandão, and the "Coplas" of D. Pedro. Three names appear in the "Cancioneiro" which were destined to create a literary revolution, those of Bernardin Ribeiro, Gil Vicente, and Sá de Miranda.
Portuguese pastoral poetry is more natural and sincere than that of the other nations because Ribeiro, the founder of the bucolic school, sought inspiration in the national serranilhas , but his eclogues, despite their feeling and rhythmic harmony, are surpassed by the "Crisfal" of Christovão Falcão. These and the eclogues and sententious "Cartas" of Sá de Miranda are written in versos de arte mayor , and the popular medida velha (as the national metre was afterwards called to distinguish it from the Italian endecasyllable ), continued to be used by Camoens in his so-called minor works, by Bandarra for his prophecies, and by Gil Vicente.B. Drama
Though Gil Vicente did not originate dramatic representations, he is the father of the Portuguese stage. Of his forty-four pieces, fourteen are in Portuguese, eleven in Castilian, the remainder bilingual, and they consist of autos , or devotional works, tragicomedies, and farces. Beginning in 1502 with religious pieces, conspicuous among them being "Auto da Alma " and the famous trilogy of the "Barcas", he soon introduces the comic and satirical element by way of relief and for moral ends, and, before the close of his career in 1536, has arrived at pure comedy, as in "Ignez Pereira " and the "Floresta de Enganos", and developed the study of character. The plots are simple, the dialogue spirited, the lyrics often of finished beauty, and while Gil Vicente appeared too early to be a great dramatist, his plays mirror to perfection the types, customs, language, and daily life of all classes. The playwrights who followed him had neither superior talents nor court patronage and, attacked by the classical school for their lack of culture and by the Inquisition for their grossness, they were reduced to entertaining the lower class at country fairs and festivals.
The Renaissance produced a pleiad of distinguished poets, historians, critics, antiquaries, theologians, and moralists which made the sixteenth century a golden age.A. Lyric and epic poetry
Sá de Miranda introduced Italian forms of verse and raised the tone of poetry. He was followed by Antonio Ferreira, a superior stylist, by Diogo Bernardes, and Andrade Caminha, but the Quinhentistas tended to lose spontaneity in their imitation of classical models, though the verse of Frei Agostinho da Cruz is an exception. The genius of Camoens (q.v.) led him to fuse the best elements of the Italian and popular muse, thus creating a new poetry. Imitators arose in the following centuries, but most of their epics are little more than chronicles in verse. They include three by Jeronymo Corte Real, and one each by Pereira Brandão, Francisco de Andrade, Rodriguez Lobo, Pereira de Castro, Sá de Menezes, and Garcia de Mascarenhas.B. The classical plays
Sá de Miranda endeavoured also to reform the drama and, shaping himself on Italian models, wrote the "Estrangeiros". Jorge Ferreira de Vasconcellos had produced in "Eufrosina" the first prose play, but the comedies of Sá and Antonio Ferreira are artificial and stillborn productions, though the latter's tragedy, "Ignez de Castro", if dramatically weak, has something of Sophocles in the spirit and form of the verse.C. Prose
The best prose work of the sixteenth century is devoted to history and travel. João de Barros in his "Decadas", continued by Diogo do Couto, described with mastery the deeds achieved by the Portuguese in the discovery and conquest of the lands and seas of the Orient. Damião de Goes, humanist and friend of Erasmus, wrote with rare independence on the reign of King Manuel the Fortunate. Bishop Osorio treated of the same subject in Latin, but his interesting "Cartas" are in the vulgar tongue. Among others who dealt with the East are Castanheda, Antonio Galvão, Gaspar Correia, Bras de Albuquerque, Frei Gaspar da Cruz, and Frei João dos Santos . The chronicles of the kingdom were continued by Francisco de Andrade and Frei Bernardo da Cruz, and Miguel Leitão de Andrade compiled an interesting volume of "Miscellanea". The travel literature of the period is too large for detailed mention: Persia, Syria, Abyssinia, Florida, and Brazil were visited and described and Father Lucena compiled a classic life of St. Francis Xavier, but the "Peregrination" of Mendes Pinto, a typical Conquistador, is worth all the story books put together for its extrãordinary adventures told in a vigorous style, full of colour and life, while the "Historia Tragico-Maritima", a record of notable shipwrecks between 1552 and 1604, has good specimens of simple anonymous narrative. The dialogues of Samuel Usque, a Lisbon Jew, also deserve mention. Religious subjects were usually treated in Latin, but among moralists who used the vernacular were Frei Heitor Pinto, Bishop Arraez, and Frei Thome de Jesus, whose "Trabalhos de Jesus" has appeared in many languagues.
The general inferiority of seventeenth-century literature to that of the preceding age has been charged to the new royal absolutism, the Inquisition, the Index, and the exaggerated humanism of the Jesuits who directed higher education ; nevertheless, had a man of genius appeared he would have overcome all obstacles. In fact letters shared in the national decline. The taint of Gongorism and Marinism attacked all the Seiscentistas , as may be seen in the "Fenix Renascida", and rhetoric conquered style. The Revolution of 1640 liberated Portugal, but could not undo the effects of the sixty years' union with Spain. The use of Spanish continued among the upper class and was preferred by many authors who desired a larger audience. Spain had given birth to great writers for whom the Portuguese forgot the earlier ones of their own land. The foreign influence was strongest in the drama. The leading Portuguese playwrights wrote in Spanish and in the national tongue only poor religious pieces and a witty comedy by D. Francisco Manuel de Mello, "Auto do Fidalgo Aprendiz", were produced. The numerous Academies which arose with exotic names aimed at raising the level of letters, but they spent themselves is discussing ridiculous theses and determined the triumph of pedantry and bad taste. Yet though culteranismo and conceptismo infected nearly everyone, the century did not lack its big names.A. Lyric Poetry
Melodious verses relieve the dullness of the pastoral romances of Rodriguez Lobo, while his "Corte na Aldea" is a book of varied interest in elegant prose. The versatile D. Francisco Manuel de Mello, in addition to his sonnets on moral subjects, wrote pleasing imitations of popular romances, but is at his best in a reasoned but vehement "Memorial to John IV", in the witty "Apologos Dialogaes", and in the homely philosophy of the "Carta de Guia de Casados, prose classics. Other poets of the period are Soror Violante do Ceo, and Frei Jeronymo Vahia, convinced Gongorists, Frei Bernardo de Brito with the "Sylvia de Lizardo", and the satirists, D. Thomas de Noronha and Antonio Serrão de Castro.B. Prose
The century had a richer output in prose than in verse, and history, biography, sermons, and epistolary correspondence all flourished. Writers on historical subjects were usually friars who worked in their cells and not, as in the sixteenth century, travelled men and eye-witnesses of the events they describe. They occupied themselves largely with questions of form and are better stylists than historians. Among the five contributors to the ponderous "Monarchia Lusitana", only the conscientious Frei Antonio Brandão fully realized the importance of documentary evidence. Frei Bernardo de Brito begins his work with the creation and ends it where he should have begun; he constantly mistakes legend for fact, but was a patient investigator and vigorous narrator. Frei Luis de Sousa, the famous stylist, worked up existing materials into the classical hagiography "Vida de D. Frei Bertholameu dos Martyres" and "Annaes d'el Rei D. João III. Manoel de Faria y Sousa, historian and arch-commentator of Camoens, by a strange irony of fate chose Spanish as his vehicle, as did Mello for his classic account of the Catalonian War, while Jacintho Freire de Andrade told in grandiloquent language the story of justice-loving viceroy, D. João de Castro.
Ecclesiastical eloquence was at its best in the seventeenth century and the pulpit filled the place of the press of today. The originality and imaginative power of his sermons are said to have won for Father Antonio Vieira in Rome the title of "Prince of Catholic Orators" and though they and his letters exhibit some of the prevailing faults of taste, he is none the less great both in ideas and expression. The discourses and devotional treatises of the Oratorian Manuel Bernardes, who was a recluse, have a calm and sweetness that we miss in the writings of a man of action like Vieira and, while equally rich, are purer models of classic Portuguese prose. He is at his best in "Luz e Calor" and the "Nova Floresta". Letter writing is represented by such master hands as D. Francisco Manuel de Mello in familiar epistles, Frei Antonio das Chagas in spiritual, and by five short but eloquent documents of human affection, the "Cartas de Marianna Alcoforada".
Affectation continued to mark the literature of the first half of the eighteenth century, but signs of a change gradually appeared and ended in that complete literary reformation known as the Romantic Movement. Distinguished men who fled abroad to escape the prevailing despotism did much for intellectual progress by encouragement and example. Verney criticized the obsolete educational methods and exposed the literary and scientific decadence in the "Verdadeiro Methodo de Educar", while the various Academies and Arcadias, wiser than their predecessors, worked for purity of style and diction, and translated the best foreign classics.A. The Academies
The Academy of History, established by John V in 1720 in imitation of the French Academy, published fifteen volumes of learned "Memoirs" and laid the foundations for a critical study of the annals of Portugal, among its members being Caetano de Sousa, author of the volumious "Historia da Casa Real", and the bibliographer Barbosa Machado. The Royal Academy of Sciences, founded in 1780, continued the work and placed literary criticism on a sounder basis, but the principal exponents of belles-lettres belonged to the Arcadias.B. The Arcadias
Of these the most important was the Arcadia Ulisiponense established in 1756 by the poet Cruz e Silva — "to form a school of good example in eloquence and poetry" — and it included the most considered writers of the time. Garcão composed the "Cantata de Dido", a classic gem, and many excellent sonnets, odes, and epistles. The bucolic verse of Quita has the tenderness and simplicity of that of Bernardin Ribeiro, while in the mock-heroic poem, "Hyssope", Cruz e Silva satirizes ecclesiastical jealousies, local types, and the prevailing gallomania with real humour. Intestine disputes led to the dissolution of the Arcadia in 1774, but it had done good service by raising the standards of taste and introducing new poetical forms. Unfortunately its adherents were too apt to content themselves with imitating the ancient classics and the Quinhentistas and they adopted a cold, reasoned style of expression, without emotion or colouring. Their whole outlook was painfully academic. Many of the Arcadians followed the example of a latter-day Maecenas, the Conde de Ericeira, and endeavoured to nationalize the pseudo-classicism which obtained in France. In 1790 the "New Arcadia" came into being and had in Bocage a man who, under other conditions, might have been a great poet. His talent led him to react against the general mediocrity and though he achieved no sustained flights, his sonnets vie with those of Camoens. He was a master of short improvised lyrics as of satire, which he used to effect in the "Pena de Talião" against Agostinho de Macedo.
This turbulent priest constituted himself a literary dictator and in "Os Burros" surpassed all other bards in invective, moreover he sought to supplant the Lusiads by a tasteless epic, "Oriente". He, however, introduced the didactic poem, his odes reach a high level, and his letters and political pamphlets display learning and versatility, but his influnce on letters was hurtful. The only other Arcadian worthy of mention is Curvo Semedo, but the "Dissidents", a name given to those poets who remained outside the Arcadias, include three men who show independence and a sense of reality, Jos&ecute; Anastacio da Cunha, Nicolão Tolentino, and Francisco Manoel de Nascimento, better known as Filinto Elysio . The first versified in a philosophic and tender strain, the second sketched the custom and folies of the time in quintilhas of abundant wit and realism, the third spent a long life of exile in Paris in reviving the cult of the sixteenth-century poets, purified the language of Gallicisms and enriched it by numerous works, original and translated. Though lacking imagination, his contos , or scenes of Portuguese life, strike a new note of reality, and his blank verse translation of the "Martyrs" of Chateaubriand is a high performance. Shortly before his death he became a convert to the Romantic Movement, for whose triumph in the person of Almeida-Garrett he had prepared the way.C. Brazilian Poetry
During the eighteenth century the colony of Brazil began to contribute to Portuguese letters. Manoel da Costa wrote a number of Petrarchian sonnets, Manoel Ignacio da Silva Alvarenga showed himself an ardent lyricist and cultivator of form, Thomas Antonio Gonzaga became famous by the harmonious verses of his love poem "Marilia do Dirceu", while the "Poesias sacras" of Sousa Caldas have a certain mystical charm though metrically hard. In epic poetry the chief name is that of Basilio da Gama, whose "Uruguai" deals with the struggle between the Portuguese and the Paraguay Indians. It is written in blank verse and has some notable episodes. The "Caramuru" of Santa Rita Durão begins with the discovery of Bahia and contains, in a succession of pictures, the history of Brazil. The passages descriptive of native customs are well written and these poems are superior to anything of the kind produced contemporaneously by the mother country.D. Prose
The prose of the century is mainly dedicated to scientific subjects, but the letters of Antonio da Costa, Antonio Ribeiro Sanches, and Alexandre de Gusmão have literary value and those of the celebrated Carvalheiro d'Oliveira, if not so correct, are even more informing.E. Drama
Though a Court returned to Lisbon in 1640, it preferred, for one hundred and fifty years, Italian opera and French plays to vernacular representations. Early in the eighteenth century several authors sprung from the people vainly attempted to found a national drama. Their pieces mostly belong to low comedy. The "Operas Portuguezas" of Antonio José da Silva, produced between 1733 and 1741, have a real comic strength and a certain originality, and, like those of Nicolau Luiz, exploit with wit the faults and foibles of the age. The latter divided his attention between heroic comedies and comedies de capa y espada and, though wanting in ideas and taste, they enjoyed a long popularity. At the same time the Arcadia endeavoured to raise the standard of the stage, drawing inspiration from the contemporary French drama, but its members lacked dramatic talent and achieved little. Garção wrote two bright comedies, Quita some stillborn tragedies, and Manuel de Figueredo compiled plays in prose and verse on national subjects, which fill thirteen volumes, but he could not create characters.
The early nineteenth century witnessed a literary reformation which was commenced by Almeida-Garrett who had become acquainted with the English and French Romanticism in exile and based his work on the national traditions. In the narrative poem "Camo&etilde;s" (1825) he broke with the established rules of composition and followed it with "Flores sem Fructo" and a collection of ardent love poems "Folhas Cahidas", while the clear elegant prose of this true artist is seen in a miscellany of romance and criticism, "Viagens na minha terra". The poetry of the austere Herculano has a religious or patriotic motive and is reminiscent of Lamennais. The movement initiated by Garrett and Herculano became ultra-Romantic with Castilho, a master of metre, who lacked ideas, and the verses of João de Lemos and the melancholy Soares de Passos record a limited range of personal emotions, while their imitators voice sentiments which they have not felt deeply or at all. Thomas Ribeiro, author of the patriotic poem "D. Jayme", is sincere, but belongs to the same school which thought too much of form and melody. In 1865 some young poets led by Anthero de Quental and Theophilo Braga rebelled against the domination over letters which Castilho had assumed, and, under foreign influences, proclaimed the alliance of philosophy with poetry. A fierce pamphlet war heralded the downfall of Castilho and poetry gained in breadth and reality, though in many instances it became non-Christian and revolutionary. Quental produced finely wrought, pessimistic sonnets inspired by neo-Buddhistic and German agnostic ideas, while Braga, a Positivist, compiled an epic of humanity, the "Visão dos Tempos". Guerra Junqueiro is mainly ironical in the "Morte de D. João", in "Patria" he evokes and scourges the Braganza kings in some powerful scenes, and in "Os Simples" interprets nature and rural life by the light of a pantheistic imagination. Gomes Leal is merely anti-Christian with touches of Baudelaire. João de Deus belonged to no school ; an idealist, he drew inspiration from religion and women, and the earlier verses of the "Campo de Flores" are marked, now by tender feeling, now by sensuous mysticism, all very Portuguese. Other true poets are the sonneteer João Penha, the Parnassian Goncalves Crespo, and the symbolist Eugenio de Castro. The reaction against the use of verse for the propaganda of radicalism in religion and politics has succeeded and the most considered poets of today, Correa de Oliveira, and Lopes Vieira, are natural singers with no extraneous purpose to serve. They owe much to the "Só" of Antonio Nobre, a book of true race poetry.B. Drama
After producing some classical tragedies, the best of which is "Cato", Garret undertook the reform of the stage on independent lines, though he learnt something from the Anglo-German school. Anxious to found a national drama, he chose subjects from Portuguese history and, beginning with "An Auto of Gil Vilcente", produced a series of prose plays which culminated in "Brother Luiz de Sousa", a masterpiece. His imitators, Mendes Leal and Pinheiro Chagas, fell victims to ultra-Romanticism, but Fernando Caldeira and Gervasio Lobato wrote life-like and witty comedies and recently the regional piecesof D. João da Camara have won success, even outside Portugal. At the present time, with the historical and social plays of Lopes de Mendonca, Julio Dantas, Marcellino Mesquita, and Eduardo Schwalbach, drama is more flourishing than ever before and Garrett's work has fructified fifty years after his death.C. The Novel
The novel is really a creation of the nineteenth century and it began with historical romances in the style of Walter Scott by Herculano, to whom succeeded Rebello da Silva with "A Mocidade de D. João V", Andrade Corvo, and others. The romance of manners is due to the versatile Camillo Castello Branco, a rich impressionist who describes to perfection the life of the early part of the century in "Amor de Perdição", "Novellas do Minho", and other books. Gomes Coelho ( Julio Dinis ), a romantic idealist and subjective writer, is known best by "As Pupillas do Snr Reitor", but the great creative artist was Eca de Queiroz, founder of the Naturalist School, and author of "Primo Basilio", "Correspondencia de Fradique Mendes", "A Cidade e as Serras". His characters live and many of his descriptive and satiric passages have become classical. Among the lesser novelists are Pinheiro Chagas, Arnaldo Gama Luiz de Magalhães, Teixeira de Queiroz, and Malheiro Dias.D. Other prose
History became a science with Herculano whose "Historia de Portugal" is also valuable for its sculptural style and Oliveira Martins ranks as a painter of scenes and characters in "Os Filhos de D. João" and "Vida de Nun' Alvares". A strong gift of humour distinguishes the "Farpas" of Ramalho Ortigão, as well as the work of Fialho d'Almeida and Julio Cesar Machado, and literary criticism had able exponents in Luciano Cordeiro and Moniz Barreto. The "Panorama" under the editorship of Herculano exercised a sound and wide influence over letters, but since that time the press has become less and less literary and now treats of little save politics.
The literature of independent Brazil really began with the Romantic Movement, which was introduced in 1836 by Domingos de Magalhaes, whose "Suspiros Poeticos" reveal the influence of Lamartine. This religious phase was immediately followed by that of Indianism suggested by Chateaubriand and Fenimore Cooper, which had its chief exponent in Goncalves Dias, a melodious lyricist. Byron and Musset were the fathers of the next phase of Romanticism and its interpreters included Alvares de Azevedo, the introducer of humour, and Casimiro de Abreu, two poets whose popularity has endured. Lucindo Rebello belongs to the same epoch, but shows a more spontaneous inspiration, and the verse of Fagundes Varella forms a link with a new school in which the ardour and humanitarianism of Hugo inspired the patriotic muse of Tobias Barreto, an objective poet of wide sympathies, imagination, and feeling, and of Castro Alves, who sang the horrors of slavery while, later still, Parnassianism overran the whole of poetry.
Brazil has yet to produce drama, but in the romance she has acknowledged masters in José de Alencar whose "Guarany" and "Iraçema" are standard books, and in the psychologist, Machado de Assis. The Romanticists mostly addressed themselves to the emotions rather than to the intelligence, but Machado de Assis rises to a more general conception of life, both in prose and verse. In "Bras Cubas" he has the irony of Sterne, and the pure, simple diction and distinguished style of Garrett, together with a reserve rarely found in a modern Latin writer. Brazil has now emancipated herself from mere imitation of foreign models and her novelists and critics of today show an originality and strength which promises much for the future of a literature still in its youth.
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