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Angrid: Romance Oriental by José Frederico Ferreira Martins

 


Angrid: Romance Oriental by José Frederico Ferreira Martins

 

Reviewed by

Pedro Panhoca da Silva

Ph. D. Research Scholar

Mackenzie PresbyterianUniversity (UPM)

São Paulo, Brazil

 

Angrid: Romance Oriental | Fiction | José Frederico Ferreira Martins|

 

The historical fiction Angrid: Romance Oriental, by José Frederico Ferreira Martins (1874 – 1960), is a work that won awards in its time, but was not able to survive time and reach the contemporary reader like other canonical texts of the Portuguese language literatures.

Martins is an author who can be considered Lusophone, since he was born in Goa, India, but died in Lisbon, Portugal, and all his textual production used the Portuguese language. As the place of birth or death matters little to determine the belonging of an author to a literature, it is convenient to call him “Lusophone” because of his contribution serving different cultures of Portuguese speakers. Two examples are the Ukrainian writer Clarice Lispector (1920 – 1977), belonging to the Brazilian literature, and the Brazilian Carlos de Oliveira (1921 – 1981), an author who is part of the Portuguese canon.

According to Pinheiro,

Martins was a prolific author who published more than thirty volumes in his lifetime: some translations of classical Indian texts and a good number of epic books glorifying the exploits of Portuguese colonialism in Asia. In this sense, Martins is not exactly an exceptional figure. Much of the Portuguese memoirs about India are organized from a colonial experience stretching from the 15th to the 20thcentury, in a long tradition of thinking about the "Orient," especially about India. These memories of India/Asia/Orient imply what the Portuguese historian Antonio Hespanha, inspired by the reflection of Said (1978), would call "Portuguese Orientalism" (Hespanha 1999), organizing the way knowledge about this "other" was produced (Pinheiro. 292-293).

 

Angrid: romance oriental was published in the early period of Portugal's “New State”, also known as “Salazarism” since its leader and founder was António de Oliveira Salazar (1889 – 1970), holder of power until 1968 and replaced by Marcello Caetano (1906 – 1980) (Martins 6). This period was a dictatorial political regime in Portugal for 41 years, the result of the “Revolution of May 28, 1926”– also known as “Coup d'Etat of May 28, 1926”, “May 28, 1926 Movement” or “National Revolution”, depending on the political point of view – which resulted in the end of the First Portuguese Republic. After this military coup, the structure of executive power was abruptly altered.

Even though Martins was born outside Portugal, he received several literary awards for his works, especially during the “New State” era, as it was customary for his works to praise Portuguese colonial history, from the title to the end of its content (Passos 208-209).

Although it follows the pattern of the rest of Martins' oeuvre, Angrid: Romance Oriental is a rare case of fiction produced by him. This book tells a tragic story of family revenge: The Goan Vasco de Sá travels to Lisbon and has a forbidden romance with Beatriz da Silveira, daughter of D. Rodrigo da Silveira. Vasco impregnates Beatriz and does not make the union official, murders her after she gives birth to his daughter, Angela, and flees back to Goa. D. Rodrigo, disgusted by what happened, takes his newborn granddaughter and his servant, Manuel, to Brazil to train her as a warrior to avenge Beatriz and the honor of the Silveira family. When she turns 16 and comes of age, Angela is sent to Lisbon with Manuel. The servant of the Silveira family helps Angela embark towards Goa in order to consummate her revenge.

Martins' historical fiction is very reminiscent of The Count of Monte Cristo (2012) by Alexandre Dumas (1802 – 1870). In the actions and in her physical and psychological description of the protagonist Angela, nationalistic values are evident for the purpose of exaltation of the Portuguese people. Angela has long blond hair, blue eyes, great physical beauty, besides being friendly, polyglot, fearless and skilled in horseback riding and sword fighting. When she is on her way to Goa, Angela faces and defeats most of the pirates that invade the ship where she is, to the point of winning the admiration of the pirate-prince Angriá, who instead of arresting her, makes her his protégé and heir to the principality of Colabo, giving her the title of "Angrid", which gives the book its name.

Martins' writing is fluid and simple, to the point that a reader of any Portuguese-speaking language can understand the reading, with few lexical differences that may vary due to linguistic variants between the countries where Portuguese is spoken. Although its plot today is almost cliché, it is capable of bringing the reader an adventure on the high seas and on dry land. Currently this text is being rescued by a doctoral thesis in Brazil that intends to adapt it to the game book format, which can serve both as a rescue of the original work and bring its interactive version closer to contemporary readers

Finally, thinking of Martins not as a historian, but as a fictionist, is a good example of how a fictional story based on historical facts works.

Works Cited

 

Dumas, Alexandre. O conde de Monte Cristo. Translated by André Telles and Rodrigo Lacerda.Jorge Zahar, 2012.

Martins, José Frederico Ferreira. Angrid: romance oriental. Civilização, 1938.

Martins, Maria Antonia Dias. Literatura portuguesa de resistência: a mulher, a guerra e o intelectual como armas de luta contra o Salazarismo. 2006. 133 f. Thesis (M.A.in History) – University of São Paulo (USP), Faculty of Philosophy, Languages and Human Sciences, São Paulo, 2006.

Passos, Joana. Literatura goesa em português nos séculos XIX e XX: perspetivas pós-coloniais e revisão crítica. Humus, 2012.

Pinheiro, Cláudio Costa. Lasmuchasencarnaciones de Tagore y los escritos de suespíritu. In: Klengel, Susanne and Alexandra Ortiz Wallner (Eds.). Sur South: Poetics and Politics of Thinking Latin America India. Iberoamericana/Vervuert, 2016. pp. 283-308.