Mário Cesariny: Between us and words


Poesia / Mário Cesariny. Assírio & Alvim, 2017.

The UL recently acquired Poesia by Mário Cesariny (1923 – 2006), the first comprehensive collection of poetry by the Portuguese Surrealist. The library began collecting Cesariny’s work in the late 1980s, when much of his poetry was re-published and gained a new audience – but by which time he himself had more or less abandoned writing to focus on painting.

Cesariny was born and lived his whole life in Lisbon, though during his early 20s he briefly studied art at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. While he was there, in 1947 he met one of his major influences,  André Breton. Spurred on by this encounter, Cesariny and his circle, who regularly met at Lisbon’s cafe A Mexicana, formed the Grupo Surrealista de Lisboa later that same year. Before formalising the birth of Portuguese Surrealism, these young writers and artists, amongst them the poet Alexandre O’Neill, had already begun to reject the strict Neo-Realism that had formed the dominant artistic opposition to Salazar’s regime. Continue reading

The Robert Howes donation on the Portuguese revolution and colonial wars

Cambridge University Library is grateful to Dr. Robert Howes for his donation of material on the Portuguese revolution of 1974 and the Portuguese colonial wars.

This donation significantly extends and complements our holdings on the history of the period, providing a good insight into the atmosphere and activism of the times.
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The Lisbon earthquake of 1755


Title page of Carta em que se mostra a falsa profecia (7000.d.1953(11)) Click on image to enlarge.

The University Library has acquired a first edition of Carta em que se mostra a falsa profecia do terremoto do primeiro de Novembro de 1755 (1756). This is a rare pamphlet by the Portuguese historian and writer Pedro Norberto de Aucourt e Padilha (1704-1759) published the year after the great Lisbon earthquake. Writing under the pseudonym of ‘Epicureo Alexandrino,’ the author dismisses the prophecies that, in the aftermath of the event,  claimed that the natural disaster was God’s work.

The Lisbon earthquake struck in the morning of All Saints Day 1755. With a magnitude estimated at eight points in the Richter scale, it opened cracks on the ground of up to five metres wide and destroyed eighty five percent of the city. It was followed by three tidal waves that engulfed the port and the city centre. There were also multiple fires, many of them started by the candles lit in churches to pray for the dead. The fires lasted for five days. Continue reading

Realism and naturalism in Portugal

Portrait of Antonio Soares dos Reis by Marques de Oliveira via Wikimedia Commons

Portrait of Antonio Soares dos Reis by Marques de Oliveira, picture by Joseolgon via Wikimedia Commons

On a recent visit to Porto I spent a happy afternoon in the Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis and particularly enjoyed the work of some of the 19th century Portuguese artists, none of whom I had heard of but who deserve to be better known.  On my return to England, I discovered that the University Library had very few books dealing with these individual artists; further searching on COPAC and the Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal revealed that, in fact, very little has been published so far on them but we will be keeping an eye out in the future for any new publications dealing with them.

The museum is named after the sculptor António Soares dos Reis (1847-1889) and it contains a good collection of his works in a dedicated room. Continue reading

Gregory Rabassa, 1922-2016


Gregory Rabassa in 2007 (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

Many of the Latin American Boom’s greatest writers owe much of their international acclaim to one man: Gregory Rabassa, who passed away last month.

Rabassa’s English translations of Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch (9743.c.74), Mario Vargas Llosa’s The green house (9743.c.108) and, in particular, Gabriel García Márquez’s One hundred years of solitude (9743.c.116) sold millions of copies and brought these authors to a much wider audience. He enjoyed a particularly close and mutually appreciative relationship with Cortázar and also translated the great Brazilian authors, Clarice Lispector, Jorge Amado and Machado de Assis, amongst many others. Continue reading