Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

The first fictional work of José Maria de Eça de Queirós (AY-sah-theh-kay-ee-ROHSH) was a parody of the romantic “mystery” novel, O misteério da estrada de Sintra (1885; the mystery of Sintra Road), which was written in collaboration with his friend, Ramalho Ortigão (1836-1915). It is not considered a significant work, although it does present themes that Eça de Queirós later developed in a serious manner. Complete satisfaction with his texts was an elusive goal; as a result, Eça de Queirós withheld publication of many works. The posthumously published works, edited by his son, his daughter, and others, are pertinent to the study of the thematic and technical development of Eça de Queirós’s fiction. Several novels were to form a Balzacian “Scenes of Portuguese Life” in conjunction with The Maias, O Conde de Abranhos, and Alves and Co.

In 1979 and 1980, two different editions were published of a long-suppressed novel, The Tragedy of the Street of Flowers; the difficulty in deciphering Eça de Queirós’s handwriting led to great variations in interpretations of words and constructions in the two competing editions. A collection of Eça de Queirós’s short stories was published under the title Contos (1902; stories); some of these stories were the seeds for later novels. Eça de Queirós’s journalistic collaborations, his letters and impressions about life abroad, and his...

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(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

José Maria de Eça de Queirós’s adversary stance toward the ultraromantic trend of Portuguese culture was well established prior to the publication of his first novel. Indeed, this stance conditioned the Portuguese critical evaluation and attitude toward his works throughout his lifetime. Eça de Queirós’s early novels were scorned by the national literary establishment as nothing more than poor imitations of the French naturalists. Violent polemics, charges of plagiarism, and legitimate criticisms of his art resulted. The most significant evaluation of these early works was by the Brazilian writer Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis. Rather than discourage Eça de Queirós’s literary output, these criticisms helped him to become a more sensitive artist.

Eça de Queirós’s wide reading in foreign literatures and philosophy as well as his sojourns abroad provided a reference point for the analysis of Portuguese society and an awareness of the literary art that no other previous Portuguese writer had enjoyed. His fiction not only touched on the situation of Portuguese existence in the late nineteenth century but also confronted the more serious question of a Portuguese identity within a European context.

Through his novels, Eça de Queirós revitalized and brought new depth to all aspects of Portuguese fiction. His creation of a personalized linguistic style is of particular distinction. The most revealing testaments to Eça de Queirós’s significance for Portuguese fiction are the enduring shadow his works have cast over twentieth century writers and the continuous critical attention that he attracts. Although widely read and influential in Brazil, Spain, and Spanish America, his major novels have been translated into English, French, and other languages only within recent years. Eça de Queirós has won the critical attention of important European and American literary critics, but he has yet to achieve the international recognition that his works so justly merit.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Coleman, Alexander. Eça de Queirós and European Realism. New York: New York University Press, 1980. A biography placing Eça de Queirós in the context of his literary contemporaries, focusing on his promotion of realism as a literary genre.

Demetz, Peter. “Eça de Queirós as a Literary Critic.” Comparative Literature 19 (Fall, 1967): 289-307. One of the few studies in English of Eça de Queirós’s nonfiction.

Pritchett, V. S. The Myth Makers: European and Latin American Writers. London: Chatto & Windus, 1979. Eça de Queirós is discussed.

Stevens, James R. “Eça and Flaubert.” Luso Brazilian Review 3, no. 1 (1966). Discusses two masters of realism.