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The Literary Institution in Portugal since the Thirties

An Analysis under Special Consideration of the Publishing Market

Margarida Rendeiro

Despite the numerous studies of the politics, economy, culture, and society of the Estado Novo, the relations established between publishers, authors, and governmental institutions and their contribution to the making of the literary canon are still marginal subjects of analysis. Based on the systems theories developed by Bourdieu, Dubois and Even-Zohar, this study focuses on the cultural production produced during the Estado Novo (1933-1974) and after the Revolution (1974-2004), within their political, economic and social framework. The chapters on José Saramago and José Luís Peixoto show them as examples of literary consecration that confirm the systemic relations in the Portuguese literary field. This research makes use of a survey on habits of purchase of Portuguese fiction, interviews with publishers, original statistical analyses, and takes a new approach to the study of Portuguese literature.


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Introduction 15


15 Introduction This thesis will set out to show that the Estado Novo (1933-1974) coordinated its educational and cultural policies with the purpose of implementing a pre-defined political strategy. This influenced the constitution of the Portuguese literary canon and had effects on canon revisions between 1974 and 2004.1 This authoritarianism was particularly felt in the consecration of the Portuguese novel, in view of the associated financial rewards and the struggles for le- gitimacy based on compromise and opposition that involved the Government as instance of consecration and reproduction and Portuguese novelists. Moreover, the novel has played the most important role in the promotion of contemporary Portuguese lit- erature worldwide. The fact that the Nobel Prize for Literature was given to José Saramago, for his work as a novelist, is evidence of that promotion. The number of Nobel Prizes given to novelists, media exposure given to national and international literary prizes for fiction and the importance of the novel in the worldwide book trade were also reasons for focusing this thesis on the constitution of the Portuguese canon novel within the wider struggles for liter- ary legitimacy and consecration. Since literature is regarded as a valuable asset, the aesthetic value is assessed, consecrated, or rejected by the valuing com- munity, understood as the dominant group within a political, so- cial, and cultural context. ‘Valuing community’ is used in this the- sis to refer to the persons and institutions involved in the appraisal of a literary work, that is, publishers, editors, fellow-writers...

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