The Maias by Eça de Queirós

By Rohan Kamicheril

This review of Margaret Jull Costa's translation of Eça de Queirós's The Maias from the International Herald Tribune comes just in time for our monthlong celebration of writing from the Lusophone world. Alan Riding gives us a glimpse of the pointed social commentary and passionate style of this important writer whom Riding describes as Portugal's Flaubert. The myriad of voices that we see at play in this month's issue seem to have discernible roots in de Queirós's cosmopolitanism and to confirm what de Queirós called the Portuguese tendency to import influence even while it spread its own abroad. Riding quotes the following from the book, which many have called de Queirós' masterpiece:

Here we import everything," João de Ega, one of the principal characters in "The Maias," caustically proclaims. "Ideas, laws, philosophies, theories, plots, aesthetics, sciences, style, industries, fashions, manners, jokes, everything arrives in crates by steamship."

The Maias: Episodes from Romantic Life is available from New Directions. I also recommend that you attend our Housing Works event in New York City on October 17th, where work by Eça de Queirós will be read along with a selection of other writing from the lusaphone world. Featured readers include Richard Zenith, David Brookshaw, Daniel Hahn and special guest Gregory Rabassa. You can find more information on the event, including the time and address over here.


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