José Rodrigues Miguéis Gerald M. Moser - Essay

Gerald M. Moser

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

On the surface [O milagre secundo Salomé] revolves around a sentimental plot: a poor country girl exploited in the city and forced into prostitution is rescued by a rich old bachelor, himself a country boy. Bored with luxury, the girl runs off, finding true love with a poor but talented and ardent young writer, who discovers she has conserved her purity! Their fortuitous encounter in a nocturnal Lisbon street tops a series of unlikely coincidences. But reserve your judgment: in fact, the sequence of idylls, fulfilled yearnings and shattering nightmares forms a dream world which contrasts ironically with the realism of the psychological insights, Portuguese settings (chiefly in Lisbon) and historical events….

Following an old penchant for mystery novels, Miguéis hints early at a strange connection between Dores, known as Salomé since her brothel days, and Our Lady of Sorrows (Dores), known universally as the Virgin of Fátima. (p. 84)

The sincerity and intensity of feeling inherent in good autobiography inspire the best chapters of the Milagre, beginning with the one on the arrival of the inexperienced country boy in Lisbon. Only one other Portuguese novelist has tried to give a panoramic view of contemporary Portuguese society, Joaquim Paço d'Arcos, who brought to the task familiarity with the life of the upper class and a mocking spirit. Miguéis has a better grasp of the life, feelings and thoughts of the lower classes, richer emotion and an unsurpassed mastery of subtle, precise language. (p. 85)

Gerald M. Moser, in World Literature Today (copyright 1977 by the University of Oklahoma Press), Vol. 51, No. 1, Winter, 1977.