José Maria de Eçade Queiróz Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

José Maria de Eça de Queirós (AY-suh duh kay-ee-ROHSH), also spelled Queirós, is generally regarded as Portugal’s most important author of prose fiction. Eça, as he is known in Portuguese circles, was born an illegitimate child. His parents were later married, but he spent most of his childhood and adolescence separated from them. He completed secondary studies in Oporto and in 1865 received a law degree at the University of Coimbra, where he witnessed extensive polemics about the status of Portuguese literature and the ideas of positivism. After practicing law for a short period and directing a political journal, Eça traveled to Egypt to attend the opening ceremonies of the Suez Canal in 1869 and then to the Holy Land, experiences which are reflected in his writings. Upon returning to Portugal, he became an intellectual activist. He was one of the principal organizers of a historic colloquium on modern thought in Lisbon, delivering an address titled “Realism as a New Expression of Art” in 1871. In this address the author argued for the moral and social roles of the artist, who should seek to better society by portraying it without traditional biases.{$S[A]Queirós, José Maria de Eça de;Eça de Queirós, José Maria de}

While publishing continually, Eça made a career of diplomacy; he served in Havana, Newcastle, and Bristol before settling in Paris in 1888. There he was married and found the tranquillity necessary to devote himself to his career in literature. He met Émile Zola, to whom he was compared by several contemporaries. Others have compared him to Stendhal and Benito Pérez Galdós. Eça spent the last days of his life in France. Many of his stories, travel diaries, and letters were published posthumously. Contemporary interest in his fiction was stimulated with the publication of The Tragedy of the Street of Flowers, a work of long fiction that Eça had left in manuscript form. In 1988, a major Portuguese critic challenged the assumptions that Eça had completed work on this novel and that he intended the work to be published.

The work of Eça de Queirós is customarily divided into three phases. In what may be termed the author’s preparatory phase (1866-1875), he published journalistic articles and late Romantic stories. These initial years reveal an impetuous young writer in the process of developing a forceful...

(The entire section is 970 words.)


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

José Maria de Eça de Queirós was born out of wedlock on November 25, 1845, in Póvoa de Varzim, a village in northern Portugal. Although his parents, members of the rural upper bourgeoisie, married in 1849, Eça de Queirós spent his childhood with a nursemaid and later with his paternal grandmother. His illegitimacy was a subtle preoccupation that often surfaced in his personal activities as well as in his fiction. It was not until 1885, the year of his own marriage, that Eça de Queirós was officially recognized by his parents.

In 1861, Eça de Queirós began to study law at the University of Coimbra. He also became an active member of the school’s literary and theatrical clique. Through his friendship with the poet-philosopher Antero de Quental (1842-1891), Eça de Queirós’s sociopolitical formation was initiated with readings of Auguste Comte, Pierre Proudhon, Ernest Renan, and a wide acquaintance with French literature. After law school, Eça de Queirós combined his professional life with his journalistic and literary activities; he wrote for Portuguese newspapers on literary and social questions throughout his life. After a short stint as editor of the political opposition’s newspaper in Évora in 1867, Eça de Queirós returned to Lisbon to begin a diplomatic career. A trip to Egypt in 1869 to attend the opening of the Suez Canal included visits to the Holy Land’s sacred shrines.

In Lisbon in 1871, the Cenacle, Eça de...

(The entire section is 579 words.)