For Christmas gifts, we make use of the classics of Portuguese literature. Come and see some fundamental works in the language of Camões.
Portuguese literature contains jewels of the finest carat. It is true that when we are forced to read many of the works, all we want is exactly… not to read. But the truth is that we end up discovering fantastic books later on, in different styles, books that we always end up coming back to, at one time or another in our lives.
Who never cursed the Portuguese teacher who forced him/her to read Os Maias, to later have in the work of Eça de Queiroz The book of your life? Or did it feed the sterile polemics of the scores in Saramago’s books to later enjoy the Memorial do Convento?
Well, the book, and its authors, are never peaceful. They are a personal choice, often dictated by a special moment, an unexpected gift, a sentence that put order in the chaos of each one. Therefore, this choice is not consensual. So little wants to be. They are the choice of the author of the article. What nobody can deny is that they really became absolute classics of Portuguese literature.
Portuguese Literature: 7 classics to offer at Christmas
It is Eça de Queiroz’s absolute masterpiece, an unavoidable book and most likely the greatest novel ever written in Portuguese. It tells the story of the rich and powerful Maia family, belonging to the nobility of the 19th century, and the love affair of Carlos da Maia, grandson of the patriarch Afonso and a self-confessed dilettante. It is also a merciless criticism of Portuguese society at the time, with Eça’s pen sparing nothing or anyone. He also left for posterity a series of unforgettable characters, such as João da Ega, Maria Eduarda, Dâmaso Salcede, Eusebiozinho, Crugges or Alencar.
The Fall of an Angel
Camilo Castelo Branco left an immense body of work. He wrote compulsively and very quickly. It is said that Amor de Perdição, one of his greatest works, took just 15 days to write. But this time the choice falls on this fantastic The Fall of an Angel. It tells the epic of Calisto Elói, a provincial morgado who has just been elected deputy of the Nation. He is thus forced to head to Lisbon, leaving his beloved countryside. Despite Calisto’s initial purity, the solid and traditional Trás-os-Montes turn out to be corrupted by luxury and pleasures of the capital🇧🇷
Mensagem is one of the greatest references of Portuguese poetry. Fernando Pessoa called it his small book, but the 44 poems that are part of it won the poet the Antero de Quental Prize, in 1934. The work deals with Portugal’s glorious past in an apologetic way and tries to find a meaning for the former greatness and the decay existing at the time the book was written. The 44 poems are grouped into 3 parts and represent the three stages of the Portuguese Empire: Birth, Realization and Death, followed by a rebirth. Unmissable.
This novel by Soeiro Pereira Gomes was published in 1941 and portrays child labor in the village of Alhanda, constituting one of the main examples of the aesthetic current of neo-realism. The work narrates, fictionally, the lives of young workers who, on the banks of the Tagus river estuaries, manufacture clay pieces on roofs, revealing at various times a definitive contrast between rich and poor. The cover of the first edition of this classic of Portuguese literature was designed by Álvaro Cunhal and the book was banned by the Salazar regime.
Written during the period of Colonial War, O Delfim portrays the universe of the Palma Bravo family, who live in Gafeira, a provincial and conservative town. In this work, José Cardoso Pires makes a caustic portrait of a society in which it is possible to find men like the engineer Tomás Palma Bravo (the Infante), deeply sexist, racist, and incapable of accepting any change. In a period when censorship was omnipresent in Portugal, Cardoso Pires did not fail to address taboo themes in Portugal at the time, such as homosexuality, betrayal and incest.
Authored by the only Nobel Prize in Portuguese Literature, José Saramago, Memorial do Convento was published in 1982, becoming an unavoidable reference in the bibliography of the writer born in Azinhaga do Ribatejo. The action takes place at the beginning of the 18th century, during the reign of King João V (and the construction of the Mafra Palace), and criticizes the exploitation of the poor by the rich, which leads to war between individuals, and the corruption belonging to human nature, with a special focus on religious corruption.
The Cause of Things
Miguel Esteves Cardoso almost needs no introduction. A genius columnist, one of the forces behind the restless and much-missed weekly newspaper O Independente, he has always had his passion for books. And he always wrote. This set of chronicles, published at the time in the weekly Expresso, draws a merciless and hilarious portrait of the Portuguese being, based on such banal themes as carpets, flies or holidays. There are other books of chronicles by MEC (as it is known), but A Cause of Things was the starting point.
Good readings of Portuguese literature for this Christmas!