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Mário de Sá-Carneiro, A Cosmopolitan Modernist

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Fernando Beleza and Simon Park

Although he committed suicide at the age of twenty-five, Mário de Sá-Carneiro left behind a rich corpus of texts that is inventive, playful, even daring. The first collection in English to be dedicated to his work, this volume brings together scholars from Portugal, Brazil, and the USA to reassess Sá-Carneiro’s contribution to Portuguese and European Modernism(s). In the book, established researchers and younger scholars delve into the complexities and paradoxes of his work, exploring not only the acclaimed novella Lucio’s Confession, but also his poetry, short fiction, and correspondence. Each essay engages in the necessary task of placing Sá-Carneiro’s work in a wider literary and artistic context, bringing back to his texts the creative energy of early twentieth-century Europe. Plural in their methods, the essays propose multiple lenses through which to tackle key aspects of Sá-Carneiro’s œuvre: his aesthetic and artistic influences and preoccupations; his negotiations/performances of identity; and the ways in which his work emerges in dialogue with other Modernist authors and how they in turn engage with his work. Though he is sometimes overshadowed by his more famous friend and artistic comrade, Fernando Pessoa, this collection shows just how much one misses, if one overlooks Sá-Carneiro and other writers of the Orpheu generation.

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Introduction: The Making of a Cosmopolitan Modernist (Fernando Beleza / Simon Park)

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Fernando Beleza and Simon Park Introduction: The Making of a Cosmopolitan Modernist As much as a volume on Mário de Sá-Carneiro (1890–1916) might wish to avoid any reference to Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935), lest the mere men- tion of the ‘inescapable giant’ of Portuguese Modernism immediately relegate Sá-Carneiro to the status of a lesser moon in the orbit of his (now internationally) famous friend, the fact is that their lives as much as their work and critical fortunes are intimately intertwined.1 The actual details regarding the beginning of their friendship are unclear, yet it is certain that their artistic and personal relationship started to become closer in 1912, shortly after Sá-Carneiro’s return to Lisbon from Coimbra, where he spent a very short period in Law school, and before his departure to Paris, in the Autumn of 1912, with the supposed intent of resuming his Law studies, this time at the Sorbonne.2 As their correspondence testifies, by May 1913, the dialogue between these two writers was already decisively shaping their work. While Sá-Carneiro’s letters from Paris were introducing Pessoa to the artistic innovations of Paris’s vibrant cultural scene, the latter commented extensively on Sá-Carneiro’s fictional ideas and poetic production. Their mutual admiration, along with a shared mission to bring European cultural and artistic modernity to Portugal, shines through these letters. As Pessoa says in one of them, ‘em plena altura, pelo menos quanto a sentimento artís- tico, há em Portugal só nós...

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