Portuguese Man of Letters
When The Mandarin by Eca de Queiroz came my way I decided to read it because I wasn’t sure if I’d sampled any Portuguese authors. Turns out I’d read the highly regarded Blindness by Jose Saramago, a Nobel Prize winner. It was years ago but I remember not liking it, especially since it made me feel I do not know what constitutes good literature. I enjoyed the book in question, four long stories first published in 1880. The title piece covers familiar territory, a deal with the devil. Since there have been so many similar tales since then, it does not seem fresh but it is amusing. I particularly liked this anecdote concerning a statesman who was stabbed to death: “…The matter of which he consists begins to break down, to become part of the vast, evolving world of atoms, and the superfluous statesman, in the form of a pansy, ends up enlivening the blind seamstress’s garret. The assassin is thus a philanthropist!” And this one: “But no relief came from those inclement heavens to which, for thousands of years, the warmth of human misery had risen in vain.” The other three stories focus on love. I wasn’t crazy about The Idiosyncrasies of a Young Blonde Woman, as I guessed where it was headed and it took a long time to get there. The Hanged Man reads like a top notch episode of The Twilight Zone. Jose Matias is a fascinating, sad, frustrating study of a man’s spiritual love for a woman he could have had in the flesh after the death of her two husbands. He denied himself to keep the love pure. The translation by Margaret Jull Costa is rock solid. The 176 pages glide by. Seven users at Amazon have rated The Mandarin, forging to a consensus of 4.4 on a scale of five. I’ll go with 3.5. Wiki lists 23 titles in de Queiroz’s name, 13 posthumous. Many have been adapted to the big and small screen, though none in English. A British theater company has staged adaptations of three of his novels. His most famous is The Crime of Father Amaro. de Queiroz passed away at 54 in 1900.
Don’t know whether to laugh or cry headline from foxnews.com: “As gas prices soar, Americans consider if businesses should allow employees to work virtually to save money.” First it was Covid keeping people home…
Read it and weep snippets from a foxbusiness.com article by Megan Henney:
“…gasoline, groceries and rents, rose 8.6% in May from a year ago… fastest pace of Inflation since December 1981.”
It was an ideal day to sell stuff curbside. My thanks to my constant benefactress, who insisted on paying for four kids books despite donating two works of non-fiction; and to the woman who bought two kids’ books; and to the one who purchased three hardcovers by John Grisham: The Firm, A Time to Kill and The Client.
My Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Vic-Fortezza/e/B002M4NLJE
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