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History of Portuguese Literature Origins of Portuguese Literature The Portuguese Language Oral Literature Fiction Lyricism
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Raul Brandão

He was the great Portuguese modernist in terms of prose fiction, integrating a symbolist tension into his work in an attempt to transpose an apparent and deceptive reality and thereby obtain a transcendence or absoluteness that are only fumblingly formulated through writing.

Sketch of the Casa do Alto

A fiction writer who wrote about characters that were both pathetic and grotesque in their incapacity to delineate their dream, or else were shameless in the way in which they betrayed it (A Farsa, 1903, Os Pobres, 1906). It was, however, in the novel Húmus, 1917, that he best explored the terrifyingly small dimension of human existence, enacting the tragedy of the struggle of the “town” for its “dream” and resorting to particular processes of breaking up the narrative time that anticipated the discourse of today’s fiction. He wrote several plays in the same style.

I always hear the same sound of death that slowly gnaws away and persists…

A dingy town - deserted streets - courtyards whose cobblestones have been lifted by the efforts of the grass alone - the castle - the intact remains of walls that have no passageway. A staircase embedded in the cavities of partitions that lead nowhere. Only a wild fig-tree has managed to work its way into the interstices of the stones and extracts their sap and the life from them. (... ) Over this lies a uniform blackened colour: dampness has infiltrated itself into the stone, the sun has infiltrated itself into the dampness. (... )

Silence. (...) I always hear the persistent work of the woodworm that for centuries has being gnawing its way through the timber and souls.



© Instituto Camões, 2001