Peak Reads and Playlists: Dulce Maria Scott

Inspired by BBC Radio’s “Desert Island Discs,” the Peter Lang Group presents ‘Peak Reads & Playlists’.

Join us on a journey to the mountain peaks near our Lausanne headquarters where we speak with our esteemed series editors.  

In this interview format, our guests share the books, music, and food that would keep them company if they were whisked away alone to this beautiful mountain setting. They’ll explore the reasons behind their choices, revealing the impact and influence each has had on their lives. Get a glimpse into the hearts and minds of the Peter Lang community.

Name: Dulce Maria Scott
Job Title: Professor, Department Chair, Social Work and Criminal Justice
Series: Interdisciplinary Studies in Diasporas


> Which FICTION title would take the coveted first spot on your list?

    Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet (Livro do Desassossego).

    Atop a mountain, one often finds themselves in a state of contemplation, pondering the essence of human existence and feeling a spiritual connection to the wider universe. It was a challenging task to choose from the renowned Portuguese poets and writers from my earlier years in Portugal, including Eça de Queiróz, Fernando Pessoa, Florbela Espanca, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, Miguel Torga, and Aquilino Ribeiro, among several others. Ultimately, I decided on a work by Fernando Pessoa that transcends both place and time, making it universally resonant. Livro do Desassossego is a thought-provoking and deeply poetic exploration of the human condition. I first read it in Portuguese, but it has been translated into several languages, including English.

    > If you were offered the chance to take a NON-FICTION title, which would you choose?

    During a difficult chapter of my graduate school experience, while sharing a living space with Indian roommates, I found solace in Indian philosophy. Its profound deconstruction of the human ego deeply resonated with me. Eventually, I came across Sri Aurobindo: The Life Divine. This masterpiece not only deepened my understanding of spiritual philosophy but also fascinated me with its engagement with the Western thought I was studying in graduate school.

    Sri Aurobindo: The Life Divine

    > We’re feeling generous so we’ll allow you one more book, your choice of FICTION or NON-FICTION – which one makes the list?

    Hermann Hess, Steppenwolf

    Selecting among numerous wonderful novels was a challenge, yet I felt compelled to include Steppenwolf, particularly as I envisioned reading it while experiencing closeness to nature atop a mountain. Steppenwolf is a precursor to existentialism, foreshadowing Jean Paul Sartre’s exploration of “being and nothingness.” The novel delves into the struggle between the human ego, socially constructed within the confines of specific cultural norms, and a primordial state of being, free of the ego. Its beautiful prose and profound message left an indelible impression on me upon my first reading.  


    > The mountain ranges have spectacular acoustics. Which 5 MUSICAL RECORDINGS would you take to enjoy whilst up on the summit and why?

    1. Vangelis, Mythodea Movement 9 With Lyrics

      When at the top of a mountain, one can be overtaken by a deep sense of transcendence—a connection to something greater than oneself, to a universal and primigenius state of being. This musical composition amplifies such feelings, evoking a sense of transcendence and tapping into that primordial essence.

      2. Zeca Afonso – Balada do Outono (Autumn Ballad)

      Zeca Afonso’s “Balada do Outono” is somewhat melancholic, as the singer announces that he will stop singing. It draws on the imagery of flowing waters, evoking the passage of time and life’s impermanence. It is a contemplative journey that invites reflection on our connection to the divine amid the serene acceptance of mortality.

      Also see the composers version here:

       (version by Mixed Choir of the University of Coimbra)

      3. Mariza – Gente Da Minha Terra ao vivo em Lisboa

      Marisa’s “Gente da Minha Terra” (People of my Land) is another melancholic song, deeply rooted in the tradition of Portuguese fado music. It encapsulates the essence of “saudade,” the longing born from the absence of those who departed due to maritime exploration, colonial settlement, and immigration. The singer movingly acknowledges that the sadness she carries within her originates from the people of her homeland. This sentiment is quintessentially reflective of Portuguese culture.

      4. Adagio in G Minor (Albinoni)

      This exquisite composition has often carried me during moments of disquiet and uncertainty. Its serene melody has offered me solace and refuge, bringing peace to times of turmoil. At the top of a mountain, I would play it while seeking moments of introspection and connection with myself.

      5. André Rieu: In a Persian Market

      While at the top of a mountain, where moments of introspection and connection often prevail, I would also cherish times of levity. André Rieu’s rendition imbues the composition with vitality and panache. This piece, although inspired by a Persian market, makes me feel like freely dancing atop the mountain, while recognizing the diversity of humankind and the beauty of the world.


      Main dish: Bacalhau à Brás is a classic Portuguese dish crafted with salted cod, eggs, potatoes, onions, garlic, parsley, olives, and olive oil, all cooked together. I would pair it with a fine Portuguese white wine.  

      For desert: Pastéis de Nata, a delicious Portuguese custard tart, very rich in flavor. I would enjoy it along with a cup of expresso coffee.

      Thank you to Dulce Maria Scott for joining us up on the mountain!

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