BHS, XLVI (1969)
REVIEWS OF BOOKS
A. J. SARAIVA, Para a Historia da Cultura em Portugal, Vol. II. Publicacoes Europa-America, Lisbon. 2nd impression, 1967. 364 pp. Price
Another collection of A. J. Saraiva's critical essays has the challenging
yet sensible qualities which make all his writings assured of a welcome.
The essays, which first appeared in reviews, newspapers, book prefaces
etc., and range in date from 1947 to 1960, deal principally with Almeida
Garrett, Julio Dinis, Camoes, Correia Garcao, Femao Lopes, Gil Vicente.
Coming out decidedly on the pro-Classical side, Saraiva regards Garrett's
plays as poor stuff, except the Frei Luis de Sousa: 'obra classica para urn
publico classico'. As in volume I, Saraiva regards the servant Telmo as
the key figure of the play. In the short essay 'A expressao lirica do amor
nas Folhas Caidas' attention is drawn (again as in volume I) to the real
experience ('que causou escandalo') which inspired these poems.
In 'Julio Dinis e a sua epoca' Saraiva points out Julio Dinis's success
and popular appeal,-not limited to his own epoch, since his central theme
is the family ('0 ambiente familiar e para ele urn mundo donde nao
sai . . . : canta-o, magnifica-o, idealiza-o') and even in sophisticated
readers this can evoke a 'lost paradise'; Fernando Pessoa, for instance, is
aptly cited in this connexion:
Coracao oposto ao mundo,
Como a familia e verdade.
While agreeing that Dinis tends to idealize country life, Saraiva rightly
notes that he is more than a superficial, 'romantic' novelist: he sees the
unfavourable political position of the common people, the changing social
scene, the rise of a new middle class, and shares Alexandre Herculano's
liberal creed, i.e. hard work as the basis for a developing agriculture and
The important essay on 'Fernao Mendes Pinto e 0 romance picaresco'
brings up the ever-fascinating questions about Mendes Pinto's ancestry,
reasons for leaving Portugal, activities in the Far East, contacts with the
Jesuits, the Inquisition censorship and so on; but he acknowledges that
the various trails which might provide answers all peter out. The
Peregrinaciio is 'urn livro cheio de omissoes'I Saraiva's main concern,
however, is whether the 'facts' in the Peregrinacdo are 'true or imagined'.
To this his answer is that what really interests the modern reader is not
the truth or otherwise of the 'facts' but the aim and purpose of the book.
The Peregrinacdo is, above all, he maintains, a work of art-indeed, the
only Portuguese work published in the seventeenth century which has a
universal appeal-, and 'em face de uma obra de arte nao se poe a alternativa verdade ou ficcao ... A ficcao nao e 0 oposto da verdade, mas 0
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