Favourite Portuguese Authors

Do you want to start reading (more) books by Portuguese authors, but don’t know by whom specifically? I have some recommendations for you! Before deciding to write about this topic, I had never reflected on whom would make their way onto a list about my favourite Portuguese writers. So, I was surprised to realise that all of them had already passed away. This doesn’t mean that I don’t read and enjoy books by more contemporary Portuguese authors. I just didn’t like all of the books I read by them, as was the case with the following four so far.

 

Eça de Queirós

If you are a fan of classics, then Eça de Queirós (also spelt ‘Queiroz’) may be the author for you. Born in 1845, he wrote some of my favourite Portuguese classics – Os Maias (The Maias) and O Crime do Padre Amaro (The Crime of Father Amaro). His books are rich in instances of social criticism and irony. Some of the thoughts he put onto the page are still quite relevant today. In case you want to know more about his work, I wrote a more in-depth feature on him when I first started this blog.

 

José Saramago

José Saramago is the only Portuguese writer to have won the Nobel Prize in Literature so far. His writing style is pretty recognisable. In the majority of his books, you won’t find any quotation marks. The dialogues and the characters’ thoughts are differentiated from the rest of the text by using a comma followed by a capital letter. But as soon as you get familiar with the style, his books become quite readable and flow really well. Continue reading

Favourite Books by Portuguese Authors

Portuguese authors don’t seem to be that well known to book bloggers who are not from Portugal or from other Portuguese-speaking countries. For that reason, I decided to share with you five of my favourite books by Portuguese writers. They are listed in no special order and I read them throughout the years.

 

O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis (The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis) by José Saramago

So far, I have read three books by the only Portuguese writer to have won the Nobel Prize in Literature, José Saramago. O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis (The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis in the English translation) is my favourite. It tells the story of Ricardo Reis, a doctor and a poet, who returns to Portugal after living in Brazil. The idea behind the book stems from Fernando Pessoa’s heteronyms, all of whom are characters created by the poet to write in different styles. The most famous are Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis and Álvaro de Campos. José Saramago transforms Ricardo Reis into a real person who arrives in Lisbon, after the death of his friend Fernando Pessoa, and discovers a country living under a newly established dictatorship.

 

Os Maias (The Maias) by Eça de Queirós

As the title suggests, in this book we are introduced to the Maia family. The novel is built around two plots. One focuses on the relationship between Pedro da Maia and Maria Monforte; while the other, which is the main plot of the book, revolves around Carlos da Maia and Maria Eduarda. However, what this novel excels at is creating a portrait of the 19th century Lisbon, its vices and political corruption, with lots of satire in the mix.

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Eça de Queirós: the 19th century Portuguese master of social commentary

If you aren’t Portuguese, you’re probably not familiar with Eça de Queirós, whom some consider to be on the same literary level as Dickens or Balzac. Born in 1845, he is one of the authors young people have to study at school. Some come to love him and others to loathe him, as it’s usually the case with the authors who are required reading. In my case, he became one of my favourite Portuguese authors and one I believe that deserves to be better known.

Eça de Queirós can’t be categorised into one single literary movement. His first works showed characteristics of the Romanticism movement; in a second phase he adhered to Realism / Naturalism; and he was afterwards influenced by Impressionism and Symbolism. My favourite books by him are generally placed in the literary realism movement, and I dare say that this is the phase he’s most known for.

The literary realism movement, which in Portugal appeared around 1865/1870, intends to present reality as it is, describing it in the most objective and detailed way possible. The authors who followed this movement in the mid-19th century intended to portray the vices of society through symbolic characters, whose very existence serves to embody some major idea or aspect of society. And this is one of the reasons why I liked the novels that I read by Eça de Queirós so much. Continue reading