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History of Portuguese Literature Origins of Portuguese Literature The Portuguese Language Oral Literature Fiction Lyricism
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Almada Negreiros

"Auto-retrato" (Self-portrait, 1943) by Almada Negreiros

The great programmatic modernist of Portuguese literature, being both a poet (A Invenção do Dia Claro, 1921) and a playwright (Deseja-se Mulher, 1928), but mainly operating as a writer of fiction, with the texts K4 o Quadrado Azul, 1917, A Engomadeira, 1917, and the novel Nome de Guerra, 1938.

He used an innovative style in the construction of discourse, particularly visible in the way in which he expounded and organised ideas (sometimes with gentleness, sometimes with violence, or purely at random). Ideas were never secondary features in his constant preoccupation with form, an aspect which was clearly linked to his work as an artist. It was this latter activity that helped to establish him as a decisive figure in Portuguese culture.

Almada Negreiros, Nome de Guerra (written in 1925), 1938

I rise up a pederast booed by imbeciles

I deify Myself as Meretrix, the ex-libris of Sin

I satanize myself as Tara on the Rod of Moses!

The punishment of snakes is laughter in My teeth,

Hell burning My singing! (…)

You, who call yourself Man! (…)

Go on living your bestiality in the Night of my eyes,

go on swelling your ambition-bull

’til your stomach bursts frog. (…)

I shall, meanwhile, use my throat

to insult you, oh beast! (…)

You always arrive first…

I always return tomorrow…

Now I shall wait until you die. (…)

And you too, loathsome politicians,

who, once elected, exploit patriotism!

Maquereaux of the Nation that gave birth to you ingenuous

and lays you out for burial ignominious!

And you too, shabby journalists

who tickle and do other things

to public opinion! (…)

Ah! How clearly I feel that I was born

from a plague of jealousy.

I am the seven plagues upon the Nile

and the soul of the Borgias in torment!

«A Cena do Ódio», excerpt


© Instituto Camões, 2001