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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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CHAPTER 1 Literature as an Institution: Systems Theory 21


21 CHAPTER 1 Literature as an Institution: Systems Theory This chapter will establish that Literature has thoroughly been studied as a social construct and that canon formation and revision can be understood within the framework of systems theory. Sys- tems theory enables us to understand the complex relations that involve writers, publishers, translators, critics, booksellers and readers, who operate as agents of (re)production and consecration when certain texts are chosen, read and rewarded against others in a particular political, social and cultural context. This stance does not imply that aesthetic valuing is irrelevant and that it is not in- herent to literary writing. As Andrew Milner pointed out, ‘value is a transitive term’ and this means that literary writing is valued by a community in a specific context.1 As far as systems theory is con- cerned, this thesis will particularly focus on Bourdieu’s seminal work on the Theory of the Literary Field (champ littéraire) in the early 1970s.2 This theory influenced the academic work of scholars and researchers who published in the 1980s and 1990s.3 Moreover, Bourdieu’s theoretical postulates have also encouraged socio- 1 Andrew Milner, Literature, Culture and Society (London: University College London Press, 1996), p. 22. 2 Some of Pierre Bourdieu’s early works are ‘Le marché des biens symbo- liques’, L’année sociologique, 2 (1971), 49-126 ; ‘Champ du pouvoir, champ intellectuel et habitus de classes’, Scolies, Cahiers de recherches de l ‘École normale supérieure, 1 (1971), 7-26 ; ‘La production de la croyance : contribu- tion à une...

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