Monday, 17 September 2007

Feras no Povoado (1947)

I recently finished a book that made me wonder if it wasn't better forgotten: “Feras no Povoado” (published 1947, something like “Beasts in the Village”) by portuguese writer Gomes Monteiro. I had neither heard of the author or the book until a few months ago when the publisher announced its release on their website. Try google it and all you get is a list of sites where you can buy the book. Nevertheless, I bought it because I like the publisher, because I know they are small and because they produce in the same series books that I treasure for their quality.

To be honest, these are the only arguments I can use to make anyone buy the book.

Mixing history and fiction, wanting desperately to be a serious historical novel but never really achieving being more than dull, the book tells the story of a man during one of the most violent and less talked about periods of Portuguese History, the civil war in the XIX century and political chaos that followed.

There are three main problems with the book in my opinion. One is that the story is never really that interesting, mostly because the characters are one-dimensional and sometimes disappear for long periods of time. The second, which bugged me a bit more were the long (very long) passages which are nothing but very subjective and highly arguable takes on the history of the period. Finally, he wants to be a famous writer. Not just any writer but Camilo Castelo Branco (1825-1890) one of the greatest figures of Portuguese literature of any century, and from whom he draws considerably.

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