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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 8 International Acceptance of José Saramagoand José Luís Peixoto 205


205 CHAPTER 8 International Acceptance of José Saramago and José Luís Peixoto This chapter will try to establish that acceptance of Saramago’s oeuvre in Brazil, Spain, the United States and in the United King- dom was determined by three essential factors: the choice of the right timing of publication of his works according to their political, social and cultural environments; Saramago’s social trajectory in the literary field, in other words, the construction of his biography whose selection of aspects and events were presented differently by his publishing houses overseas, critics and by himself at inter- views and other public appearances in those countries; and the importance of the publishing houses which published his oeuvre and were decisive for strengthening his international visibility. The combination of these three factors makes Saramago an un- usual case of a successful literary career. Finally, this chapter will also endeavour to show that José Luís Peixoto’s recent acceptance overseas benefited the expansion of Portuguese publishing indus- try in the 1990s; the improved visibility of Portuguese literature abroad; his literary awards; and also from Saramago’s prestige. The reasons to analyse Saramago’s recognition in each of the countries mentioned above vary. In the United Kingdom, transla- tions constitute a very small share of the book market, not exceed- ing 2.5 per cent, albeit prizes are given to foreign fiction.1 It is not easy for a foreign author to overcome the obstacles imposed by the British publishing market. The United States of America share the same...

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