Sunday, July 15, 2012

Eça de Queirós

Main masterpieces:   

  • O mistério da casa de Sintra (1870)
  • O Crime do Padre Amaro (final edition in 1880) 
  • O Primo Basílio (1878)
  • O Mandarim (1880)
  • A Relíquia (1887)
  • Os Maias (1888)
  • A Ilustre Casa de Ramires (1897)
  • A Cidade e as Serras (1899)
  • A Capital (posthumous edition in 1925)
  • O Egipto (posthumous edition in 1926)
Historical period in literature: 
Modern literature, period from Romanticism to Symbolism

The literary work

In the work of this important figure of Portuguese literature, creator of the modern novel, can be distinguished usually three aesthetic phases: first, the romantic influence, which includes the texts included in Prosas Bárbaras and goes till Mistério da Estrada de Sintra; the second, pure affirmation of Realism, which begins with participation in the Casino Conferences and is fully revealed in the novels O Primo Basílio and O Crime do Padre Amaro; and third, the overcoming of Realism-Naturalism, reflected in the novels Os Maias, A Ilustre Casa de Ramires and A Cidade e as Serras.

O Primo Basílio

Through the theme of adultery, this work mainly focuses on the fatal consequences of a romantic female education. Luísa, married to Jorge, a mining engineer, had a sentimental education and consumes the day with the same routine. A prolonged absence of her husband coincides with the Basílio’s arrival, cousin and former boyfriend of Luísa, who made fortune in Brazil and now it appears with the charm of the sophisticated life in Paris. Weakened by the type of education she had, the lack of contact with Jorge and the gathering with Leopoldina, a friend that made ​​up for an unhappy marriage with a succession of lovers, Luísa can’t yield to the cousin attempts and has with him, secretly, many dates.
Meanwhile, the maid Juliana captures some letters exchanged between the lovers and begins blackmailing Luísa. The relationship eventually ends and Basílio leaves to Paris. The Juliana requirements will be increasing, even after the return of Jorge. Luísa begins doing the housework, while her health gets worse.
In turn, Juliana, who is seriously ill, dies, which allow Sebastião, a family friend, to retrieve the letters. Luísa thinks herself saved. A chance, however, reveals everything to Jorge, who confronts her with the fact. Luisa gets sick and eventually dies. In the end, Basílio returns to Lisbon, once again to show the character of conqueror without scruples.
O Primo Basílio reflects with great subtlety and realism the different environments of Lisbon in that time, habits and values ​​of bourgeoisie. To this contributes significantly its gallery of exceptional secondary characters, which includes the maid Juliana, Leopoldina, Sebastião, Julião, Joana, D. Felicidade and the Counselor Acácio.


O Crime do Padre Amaro

Eca de Queirós theorizes about Naturalism, defined as a new method to face the truth, and assigns to art a pedagogical mission of social reform. In this perspective, the work aims to denounce the social and moral evils resulting from the priesthood without calling and false religious education.
The fierce criticism to the Catholic clergy and the pernicious effects of its presence in bourgeois homes, besides the seduction process of Amelia by Amaro; his crime, announced in the title, corresponds to the sacrifice of his own son, unfolds in a series of scenes and secondary characters, which brings out the cynicism and lust of the canon Dias.

A Relíquia 

Its epigraph "On the strong nakedness of truth, the translucent mantle of fantasy" became famous for synthesizing the alliance between realism and imagination, naturalism and fantastic, alliance, moreover, evident in the work and confirmed in the "Introduction".  
From the central plot the journey of Teodorico the Holy Land, where he brings, not a relic that had promised to the pious aunt, but, by mistake, the nightshirt of a lover stands the dream or travel on time of the protagonist that, accompanied by his learned friend Dr. Topsius, attends the hearing, trial and death of Jesus. The work that exalts the human figure of Christ as a paradigm of love and kindness was considered heretical by most conservative sectors, by questioning the divinity of Christ.  
While Camilo Castelo Branco resorts to sarcasm and parody to express the vanity of the world in general, Eça makes use of irony and satire, more subtle and delicate, as it is visible in A Relíquia, narrative of the Portuguese man of the nineteenth century, deformed by women through a Christian education that, in addition to not prepare for the practical realities of life, denies him and confuses basic drives, contaminating him with values ​​that he is not able to find in a world where human love is ephemeral and love divine unreliable, and seeming to give him a bit grandiloquent rhetoric little appropriate to this context. The aim is, at bottom, once again, to draw a picture of what is the great latent character of the Eça’s work: Portugal.

Os Maias

This is the masterpiece by Eça de Queirós and one of the most important of all the Portuguese narrative literature. It is worth especially by the language and the fine irony with which the author defines the characters and presents the situations. It is a realistic novel (and naturalist) where fatalism, social analysis, adventures and catastrophe typical of the passionate plot aren’t absent.
The work deals with the story of a family (Maia) throughout three generations, focusing then on the next generation and giving relief to the incestuous loves of Carlos da Maia and Maria Eduarda. But the history is also a pretext for the author to criticize the deteriorating condition of the country (political and cultural) and the Lisboan upper middle class nineteenth-century, where permeates a humor (sometimes thin, sometimes satirical) that sets the defeat and disappointment of all the characters.

Adapted works into movies:

  • Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura (2009)

Director: Manoel de Oliveira 
Cast: Ricardo Trêpa, Catarina Wallenstein, Diogo Dória, Júlia Buisel, Leonor Silveira, Rogério Samora

Watching movie trailer

  • O Mistério da Estrada de Sintra (2007)

Director: Jorge Paixão da Costa 
Cast: Ivo Canelas, António Pedro Cerdeira, Bruna Di Tullio, Rogério Samora, José Pedro Vasconcelos, Nicolau Breyner

Watching movie trailer

Consulted sources:  

Portal da Literatura Portuguesa

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