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Book Title: Sinais de Fogo|
The author of the book: Jorge de Sena
Date of issue: 2003
Format files: PDF
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Romance único de Jorge de Sena, parcela de um projecto romancesco de grande dimensão cuja designação genérica seria Monte Cativo, objectivando o recorte de uma geração nascida nos finais dos anos 10 do século XX, Sinais de Fogo abriga em si o despertar de um jovem, entre um grupo de amigos e familiares, para a sexualidade, a política e o fazer poético. De uma erudição e de um rigor literário inexcedíveis, aqui se fixa um olhar sobre o ano de 1936 português, tendo como pano de fundo o início da Guerra Civil de Espanha.Colecção Mil Folhas, #48
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Read information about the authorJorge de Sena is one of the most important Portuguese poets of the second half of the 20th century, but he was also an outstanding essayist, a fiction writer of indubitable talent, a significant playwright and a tireless translator of the poetry and prose of writers from a variety of languages and periods. His published works extend to more than a hundred titles. It is difficult to understand how a single person could accomplish so much in one lifetime, and not a long one at that, especially if we consider that he worked under the demands of a professional life and raised nine children.
In 1959, fearing that he would be persecuted for his involvement in a failed coup attempt against the dictatorship of Salazar, Sena went into exile in Brazil, and later adopted Brazilian nationality. There he added a doctorate in the humanities to his degree in civil engineering. In 1965 he left Brazil with his large family for the United States, where he remained until his death. There is a Portuguese Studies Center named after him at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he held his last teaching post.
The innovative character and the excellence of his vast body of work are broadly recognized today, but this was not always the case. Sena himself believed that he was under-appreciated in Portugal and, from the vantage of his American exile, he took his revenge in a series of acid attacks against the mediocrity and provincialism of the Portuguese cultural scene. It is no wonder that his poetry provoked a certain resistance. Though he was a ferociously critical poet, he would nevertheless dispense with the primer of social realism, and occasionally display the outer signs of surrealism. However, he was much too cerebral to submit himself to the dictates of the unconscious, or to practice automatic writing. And though he would give voice to personal circumstances, his practice as a poet of witness, both of his own life and the world around him, had nothing in common with the subjectivity and the immersion in psychology so typical of the generation of writers grouped around the influential literary magazine Presença, launched in the city of Coimbra in 1927.
With the appearance in Portugal, at the beginning of the 1960s, of a poetry dedicated to creating a new autonomy for poetic language, one which would favor control, prosodic rigor and metaphoric density, it was natural that certain characteristics of Sena’s poetry, such as his frequent use of registers more typical of prose, were seen as symptoms of weak technique. But it is curious to note that what tended to alienate him from the successive poetic currents of his times is exactly what the young and influential Portuguese poets of today find so attractive in him.
As an essayist, Sena is an important reference, both when it comes to Luís de Camões and to Fernando Pessoa. He also wrote a novella, dozens of short stories and one powerful novel, Signs of Fire, which presents at once a fresco of Portuguese society during the period of the Spanish Civil War and a detailed portrait of the education of a poet. He will also be remembered as the translator of hundreds of poems by a variety of poets, and of the novels and plays of such authors as Molière, Lautréamont, Poe, Chestov, Brecht, Faulkner, Hemingway, Graham Greene, Malraux and Eugene O’Neill, among many others.
Miguel Queirós (Translated by Martin Earl)
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