In The Poetics of Empire in the Indies, James Nicolopulos investigates literary representations of sixteenth-century Iberian colonialism and imperialism by analyzing Alonso de Ercilla’s "La Araucana," a narrative poem that recounts the initial phases of the Spanish conquest of Chile in the mid-sixteenth century, and Luis de Camoens’s "Os Lusíadas," the epic celebration of early Portuguese maritime expansion in the Indian Ocean and beyond.
Delving into the epic traditions of the Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance periods, Nicolopulos outlines practices of imitation within the two poems, focusing specifically on the employment of epic models in "La Araucana." Having made powerful connections to Ercilla’s literary and critical predecessors, Nicolopulos demonstrates that the contemporaneous publication of "Os Lusíadas" further affected the content and presentation of "La Araucana." In so doing, he elucidates the rivalries—poetic, political, commercial—between Spain and Portugal during this age of expansion.
An investigation into imitation and representation in colonial texts, The Poetics of Empire in the Indies offers new connections between two early literary representations of Iberian imperialism.