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The Colonial Wars in Contemporary Portuguese Fiction

The Colonial Wars in Contemporary Portuguese Fiction

Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    The Colonial Wars in Contemporary Portuguese Fiction
    Book Description:

    The colonial wars in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau in the 1960s and 1970s were Portugal's Vietnam. The novels discussed in this study, written by António Lobo Antunes, Lídia Jorge and Manuel Alegre among others, aroused passionate responses from the reading public and initiated a national debate, otherwise lacking in the contemporary press, with their systematic deconstruction of the rhetoric of patriotism and colonialism of António Salazar's regime. The author's approach is of necessity grounded in postcolonial thought, as these works represent the awakening of a post-imperial conscience in Portuguese literature and society. ISABEL MOUTINHO is a Lecturer in Spanish and Portuguese at La Trobe University, Australia.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-618-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. iii-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. 1-12)

    Recent studies of post-revolutionary Portuguese literature have highlighted how it conveys the country’s gathering sense of a new identity from the mid-1970s onwards.² Deprived of an imperial dimension, which for centuries informed its imagination, and recently rescued from its long isolation by its acceptance into the European forum, Portuguese society now grapples with a need to redefine itself in its new, postcolonial situation. Convincingly scrutinising Portuguese mythology, Eduardo Lourenço (2000: 35–6) has repeatedly pointed out that it wasOs Lusíadasthat first erected the Portuguese maritime venture into the founding myth of the nation’s identity. And given that it...

  5. The Traumatic Memory

    • 1 António Lobo Antunes, Os Cus de Judas
      (pp. 15-35)

      António Lobo Antunes’s 1979 novelOs Cus de Judas¹ was not the first colonial war novel to appear after Portugal’s 1974 democratic revolution abolished censorship, allowing for the publication of such narratives. But its striking literary quality drew attention to those war novels as a recognisable sub-genre within contemporary Portuguese fiction, which the appearance of later works has consolidated.

      Os Cus de Judasis set in 1979, but extensive flashbacks return us to the war in eastern and northern Angola in 1971–72. The narrator, a conscripted surgeon attending to young soldiers, observes the suffering and the havoc war has...

    • 2 Álamo Oliveira, Até Hoje (Memórias de Cão)
      (pp. 36-52)

      Álamo Oliveira’sAté Hoje (Memórias de Cão)¹ [Until Today (Memoirs of a Dog)] is best described as aBildungsroman, a novel that examines the spiritual, social and human development of a young man, in a process that eventually leads him to a fundamental change of direction in life. By the prominence of cognitive verbs such assaberandconhecerand their antonymsignorar/desconhecer– ‘João sabe da pátria o q.b. … Desconhecia Lisboa’ (10); ‘essa vontade perdida de o ser e saber’ (20), (to quote only two examples)² – the novel’s opening pages show that the protagonist seeks to achieve...

  6. The Personal Memory

    • 3 Wanda Ramos, Percursos
      (pp. 55-74)

      While theBildungsromantraditionally focuses on the self-education of a young male hero, feminist critics have been revising and expanding the definition of the genre since the 1970s, establishing the separate category of novels having a female protagonist. The femaleBildungsromanis now recognised in its own right, although often under different names. While Esther Labovitz (1988) maintains the classical term, Abel, Hirsch and Langland prefer ‘fictions of female development’ (1983) and Susan Rosowski opts for ‘novel of awakening’ (1983).

      Wanda Ramos’sPercursos (do Luachimo ao Luena)¹ [Travels (from the Luachimo to the Luena)] defies straightforward genre classification. Thematically the...

    • 4 Lídia Jorge, A Costa dos Murmúrios
      (pp. 75-96)

      Lídia Jorge’sA Costa dos Murmúrios¹ [The Murmuring Coast, ‘The Coast of Whispers’] differs from other colonial war novels in that the narrative focuses not on war service, but on the experiences of a woman living in Beira, Mozambique’s second city, as the wife of an army officer, in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The book begins with a short narrative, ‘Os Gafanhotos’ [The Locusts], which tells in its thirty pages events similar to those re-examined and elaborated in the larger narrative, ‘A Costa dos Murmúrios’, that follows it. The short story’s setting is the wedding reception of Evita...

  7. The Collective Memory

    • 5 João de Melo, Autópsia de Um Mar de Ruínas
      (pp. 99-121)

      Unlike the novels studied in the previous chapters, which move between one of the colonial war settings (Angola, Guinea or Mozambique) and Portugal,Autópsia de Um Mar de Ruínas(1984) [Autopsy of a Sea of Ruins] is set solely in Angola.¹ Its chapters focus alternately on the daily routine of a unit of Portuguese soldiers serving at the front in northern Angola and on the lives of the indigenous Angolans in a nearby enclosed village(sanzala).² The stories of the Portuguese battalion and the people of the Angolan sanzala are presented in parallel, the Portuguese side of the plot unfolding...

    • 6 Manuel Alegre, Jornada de África
      (pp. 122-147)

      Published in 1989,Jornada de África[Expedition to Africa] is the first novel by Manuel Alegre, who had until then been one of Portugal’s most prolific and best known lyric poets.¹ Manuel Alegre has since published another three narrative works, all well received by the critics, at the same time as he continues to produce poetry, so that he is now as much a well-established novelist as an acclaimed poet.

      Poetry plays a major role in the composition ofJornada de África, with many of the novel’s chapters directly quoting lines by Portuguese and other European, as well as African,...

    (pp. 148-154)

    In this study I have investigated the ways in which six contemporary Portuguese writers, in novels published in the ten years between 1979 and 1989, recover the memory of the colonial wars in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea, and give it literary expression. All six novels are retrospective accounts based on the protagonists’ memory of their involvement in the war, either directly or, in the case of female protagonists, one step removed. Invariably, these reconstructions of the experience of war reveal two conflicting impulses: one to rescue the memory of the war experience, so shattering and momentous for the protagonists of...

    (pp. 155-170)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 171-176)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 177-177)