This work is a study on "The Highlands of Brazil", the travel chronicle written by Sir Richard Burton in 1869. It deals with visions of modernity and perceptions of the future. Taking Burton's narrative as point of departure, it focuses on a rhetorical pattern that can be traced back to the 16th century, that of a "land of the future". It examines how that discourse was reinvented and applied thoughout the second half of the 19th century, while simultaneously being questioned or abandoned by less optimistic interpreters. It takes other texts into consideration: those written by foreign visitors such as Arthur de Gobineau, Louis Aggassiz, Johann Spix, Karl Martius, William Hadfield, and those by Brazilian authors such as Silvio Romero, Andre Reboucas, Nina Rodrigues, and Euclides da Cunha. It also examines the years Richard Burton spent in Brazil.