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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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Foreword (Richard Zenith)


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It took about fifty years for Fernando Pessoa, deceased in 1935, to be recognized as a major European Modernist and not just a Portuguese prodigy who wrote under many different names. A hundred years have passed since the death of Mário de Sá-Carneiro, who still tends to be confined to Portuguese Literature departments – even in Portugal. Mário de Sá-Carneiro, a Cosmopolitan Modernist seeks to pull him out of that fascinating but vision-skewing space, so that we can see the writer more completely, in his relations to the rich cultural and literary milieu of Paris in the lead-up to World War I; and more complexly, in his relationship to other Portuguese Modernists and to the Portuguese literary tradition. Sá-Carneiro was not a passive receptor of Cubism, Futurism, and the still lingering spirit of Decadence; he assimilated elements from these movements into his poetry and prose, making for a body of work that, while singularly his own, can be profitably juxtaposed with the work of other writers and artists from his generation.

In their introduction to this book, which helps to redress the comparative lack of critical attention paid to Mário de Sá-Carneiro, the editors point out that it would be absurd to exclude all talk of the writer who habitually overshadows him, Fernando Pessoa, for the simple reason that the work produced by the two men in the years 1913–16 was...

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