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Mário de Sá-Carneiro, A Cosmopolitan Modernist


Edited By 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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Part II: Cosmopolitanism


Part II Cosmopolitanism Fernando Curopos Mário de Sá-Carneiro and the Demons of Dance The novelist and poet Mário de Sá-Carneiro witnessed the birth of twentieth-century artistic modernity when he moved to Paris in the autumn of 1912 for his first extended stay in the French capital. From there he would set out to spread literary modernity to his native Portugal by, for example, dedicating countless hours to publishing Orpheu, a Modernist literary magazine, which showcased, amongst others, the work of Fernando Pessoa – a constellation of modernity unto himself. The contributors to this magazine, known collectively as the ‘Orpheu generation’, helped to awaken Portugal from its semiperipheral artistic slumber and release it from the stronghold of the nineteenth century that kept the country, in António Nobre’s words, ‘à esquina do planeta’ [at the edge of the world].1 As rather conservative and outmoded literary and artistic movements like Saudosismo and Neo-Romanticism remained strong in Portugal at the time, Pessoa called for artists to ‘criar uma arte cosmopolita no tempo e no espaço’ [to create a kind of art that is cosmopolitan in time and space].2 Whilst Symbolism, Naturalism, Parnassianism, and Decadentism continued to thrive in Portugal, the winds of modernity swept through other parts of Europe, where a desire for novelty, speed, and the inclusion of the world of machines all signalled the way towards Futurism. Many critics have related Mário de Sá-Carneiro’s work to the emer- gence of twentieth-century modernity; however, due...

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